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Coronavirus: how are hiring companies handling the crisis?

25 / 03 / 2020

The impact of the coronavirus continues to be felt across the globe, as countries implement increasingly robust measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

These are unprecedented times, and yet many businesses are making the best of a bad situation. Safeguarding the health and wellbeing of staff is obviously a priority, but firms are also working hard to stay operational, delivering the goods and services that millions of people rely on.

We've spoken to many of our clients over the past week to find out what recruitment and staffing measures they're implementing to cope with the crisis. Here is a brief overview of the market as it stands.

Hiring intentions

We recruit across internal audit, company secretarial, compliance, legal, risk, cyber security, treasury and interim roles. While some organisations are continuing with hiring as normal, others are placing a temporary freeze on recruitment until the situation is clearer.

Cyber roles appear to be the exception, with many clients telling us these roles were too important to delay, particularly within financial services.

Nevertheless, hiring managers across the board frequently emphasised that recruitment remained a priority for them and they wanted to be prepared to hit the ground running when the markets inevitably pick up again.

Interviews and job offers

Companies that continue to hire have pivoted away from face-to-face interviews and are instead taking advantage of video conferencing and telephone interviews.

While some hiring managers said they would consider offering candidates new positions without face-to-face interviews, there was general uncertainty over committing to a firm policy in this area. Many are opting for a wait-and-see approach until further notice.

Currently, some businesses may be hesitant to place candidates without an in-person meeting, but this stance could change if government lockdown measures remain in place for several weeks and crucial vacancies need to be filled.

Office working policies

Unsurprisingly, work from home policies are widespread across all our clients. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday (March 23rd) that employees should only travel to work if absolutely necessary, and only where this work can't be performed at home.

Prior to this, some businesses were asking business-critical employees or those who cannot work from home to remain on-site. Others were rotating teams in and out of the office on a weekly or biweekly basis. However, the government's more stringent self-isolation and social distancing measures will likely result in the overwhelming majority of workers going fully home based for now.

New starters and onboarding

Candidates who have accepted job offers and received a start date can generally expect to begin on their first day as planned, but they will often be required to work from home immediately.

Some new starters were previously being invited into the office briefly to pick up laptops and other equipment. Given the new lockdown restrictions in place, this is less likely occur. The onboarding process is also largely being carried out remotely, with starter packs being sent out to new employees ahead of their first day.

Interim staff and IR35

On March 18th, the government announced that impending IR35 reforms would now be delayed for a year to ease the burden on businesses amid the fallout of Covid-19.

The responses from organisations has been mixed. Some informed us they are now choosing to keep contractors on, while others said they would be releasing them and sticking with their original IR35 plans. However, most organisations were still deciding their approach, given how recent the announcement was.

We're here to help

Our conversations with clients have shown us that organisations are making incredible efforts to prioritise the health of their staff, while minimising uncertainty for their businesses.

We want you to know that we're available to provide ongoing guidance and support to both our clients and candidates during this difficult time. Our consultants are still able to source candidates and run full recruitment processes, including helping to organise video conferencing interviews, onboarding initiatives and reference checks. 

We're also on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have about potential disruptions to your recruitment processes or job search. So, if you'd like to discuss anything, please give us a call on 020 7936 2601 or send an email to tgb@barclaysimpson.com.

Image credit: Fred Moon via Unsplash
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