The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every corner of our lives and our businesses. It impacted how we live, how we work, and how we hire.
Certain industries have been hit harder than others due to state mandates and forced closures. We’ve seen businesses struggle with lost revenues and cash flow challenges. Employers were forced to implement pay cuts to essential workers, furlough valued employees, and lay off contract workers.
Team dynamics have also changed.
The Way it Used to Be
In 2019, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, the lowest rate since 1969. In our role as recruiters, we often saw clients start bidding wars for the best candidate. Candidates had the power to choose and negotiate due to low supply and high demand.
Before the pandemic, some of the top drivers of happiness at work included a culture where employees are encouraged to share ideas and opinions and a workplace where co-workers feel like family or friends.
Employers were implementing team-building programs such as day-long retreats, team-building games, and company outings. Employees would build stronger relationships amongst themselves by sharing a meal, going out for a drink, or going to a concert together.
Today, all that has changed.
What the Recruiting Landscape Looks Like in 2021
In April 2020, the unemployment rate had risen to a record high of 14.7%. By summer, 42% of the U.S. labor force worked from home full-time, and 70% of workers worked from home some of the time. This took a noticeable toll on a team’s ability to communicate, collaborate, and bond. Managers had to learn new ways to manage a team they could not physically meet.
Here’s the good news: many businesses have reopened or are planning to reopen as vaccinations become more available and local COVID-19 cases drop. That means companies are hiring again. But this year, priorities look different for employers and candidates.
What employees look for now
Recent surveys show that people expect to see the following priorities from their employers:
- Flexible work schedules
- Salary protection
- Health policies and protocols
- Paid leave and childcare options
- Increased training and education opportunities
- Options to work from home or hybrid
- A commitment to diversity and social justice
What employers look for now
In addition to the obvious job-specific hard skills, employers want to hire people with the following skills and abilities, many of which tie into an expectation that some level of remote work will continue:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Ability to adopt change
- Decision-making and problem-solving abilities
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Savvy on one or more video communication platforms
- Strong time management skills
How COVID-19 Has Created Opportunities
There has been an exciting upside for employers. In 2019, employers were struggling to find the perfect candidate. Today, due to a higher unemployment rate, there is a vast pool of talent looking for opportunities.
A large number of potential applicants also translates into more work for a hiring manager. For starters, every job listing results in more applicants than ever before. More applicants mean reviewing more resumes, vetting more candidates, and conducting more interviews. Plus, with most interviews conducted via video conference, it has become harder to pick up on subtleties in body language and speech that managers may have looked for in the past. The selection process has become more challenging.
The other concern we’re hearing from our clients is that some businesses are leaning toward hiring temporary, temp-to-perm, and project-based professionals because the economy remains uncertain. They don’t want to be understaffed, but many are afraid to commit financially until the economy officially opens back up.
How a Staffing Company Can Help
Hiring the right candidate takes an incredible amount of time. You don’t have to go it alone.
Here at ACT Professional Solutions, we are perfectly positioned to help businesses in every industry fulfill their full-time, part-time, temporary, temp-to-perm, contract, and freelance hires. Our recruiters spend all day proactively looking for the perfect candidate for you. They are trained to read between the lines when vetting candidates and are skilled at interviewing people in-person and on-camera. ACT Professional Solutions takes the guesswork out of the process, staffing your positions and projects quickly and efficiently, saving you time and money.