As we continue to navigate our way through unknown territory, with lockdown in full swing around the world, the Coronavirus pandemic is changing online behaviours significantly and possibly permanently both for consumers and businesses. People have been forced to access information in new ways, interact and purchase new and different products and services online, and the longer this continues, the more likely these are to become habits. 

So I thought I would take this opportunity to explain what it might mean for businesses and recruitment in a short to longer timeframe as we progress through lockdown. My fellow co-founder at Leadoo Marketing Technologies,  Mikael de Costa is author of The Startup Warrior and a multiple entrepreneur in our native Finland including founding Jobilla which was a recruitment digital marketing venture. Launching Leadoo MT, which concentrates on website conversion by engaging in chat bot conversations with customers, was born from Mikael’s recruitment experience as he discovered that talent marketing and employer branding efforts were going to waste, as potential applicants were not converting. Recruitment is an important sector for us. 

What is the new recruitment ‘norm’

In the short term, for all but a very few, business is tougher, and many are rushing to keep up and keep their heads above water. HR Departments are finding themselves in new territory and are needing to become more digitised to thrive and be more effective.

The priority for HR divisions and smaller companies is coping with the day to day implications of a workforce either working remotely from home, or not being able to work at all, and the financial implications on their company’s bottom line.

In the first few weeks of lockdown, corporates and SME’s were inundated with enquiries from employees and communicating efficiently through internal communication channels was paramount. We saw these companies embracing technology and setting up a digital infrastructure to remove a lot of the strain. Employees were able to access information online together with chatbots answering and addressing most of their concerns digitally, freeing up the HR personnel or management to deal with more pressing company issues.

Setting up this infrastructure can take time and investment in the beginning, but the man hours and efficiencies it delivers longer term, easily outstrip this.

Recruitment during lockdown

Many companies put a freeze on recruitment during this uncertain period, for a number of reasons. Some feel they have enough to concentrate on dealing with their current workforce, whilst others are worried about the financials of affording new employees in a time of unrest. Another big reason not mentioned is they do not have the digital means to onboard someone remotely yet – something we predict will change post Coronavirus when companies examine new recruits being able to start work digitally without initial face to face contact.

Whilst the freeze is on for the majority, other essential services like supermarkets and online deliveries are needing to recruit harder and faster than they have ever done before.

In Finland, we were ahead of the curve with the Coronavirus, but have and are seeing the same recruitment patterns emerge in the UK.

More than 40,000 jobs were recently up for grabs in the UK to pack goods on supermarket shelves and to make deliveries of essential goods and services. This is an astounding number, and the speed of hires unprecedented. The new interview ‘norm’ for these jobs is for the candidate to have an interview in the morning and be packing shelves in the afternoon.

HR departments are evolving and changing their processes to keep up with this personnel demand. Technology is key to helping them do this. Video calls, checking references and other techniques like chatbots to conduct the initial screening questions help speed it up. There is so much technology on tap out there and the recruitment industry is having to learn very quickly to adopt it.

Unlock down Day

Of course, none of us know when this will be, but thinking now about the longer-term future of recruitment and HR and how it might operate makes good business sense.    

We do not see these changes just being for the period of lockdown, we predict this is going to completely change the way we work, something Leadoo has been helping companies do for a while.

The recruitment “freeze” will come to an end, resulting in a need to get things happening again quickly whether that’s Universities recruiting students or recruitment for paid employment. Recruitment bots can make the process quicker, easier and more engaging, lowering the barriers for people to apply (which they will thank you for), thereby increasing responses from passive job seekers. Candidates can do a quick chatbot interview of just one – two minutes which show whether they are right for the job. Then companies and candidates can finish the conversation or take it further by asking for additional information or immediately taking a phone number and calling to continue the interview process.   

Some of the experiences we have had during lockdown, such as relying more on the online environment, will last long after the pandemic has subsided. And, yes, that will change the world of work, business and recruitment for good. Prepare now to make sure you stay ahead of the curve.