As part of a general review of recruitment during the lockdown period, I thought I would just cover off some aspects that I have encountered during the period.
I spoke to a senior Security Manager last week (first week in December) as we were planning to meet up during his trip to London: as it happened, we have now rescheduled for early in the New Year. I mention this, only because this chap had started a new role in the Summer and this was going to be his first physical meeting with his line manager at the corporate HQ that he had not been to before: this situation is far from unique. I know and know of several people who have either been recruited or onboarded during the UK lockdowns some as in the case above, have not met their work colleagues in person or even the companies’ hiring managers.
This does not mean they are unable to work, but merely the way they are supported during their initial period of employment has needed to be adapted to fit the situation in which we find ourselves.
Unsurprisingly, many organisations put recruitment on hold immediately the lockdown happened, many taking advantage of the government’s furlough scheme. Some have subsequently been forced to make people redundant as the business climate has changed but others have been in a position where they can take advantage of people being ‘on the market’ to hire for some open and strategically important positions. All, however, will have had to review and adapt how they conduct recruitment.
We are fortunate that technology exists that, for little or no cost, enables many of us to work from home, despite the difficulties that this brings. A relatively short time ago, this technology (including good broadband connections) was not as available or as reliable as it is today.
As part of any recruitment process, it is vital to ensure that where appropriate, a new anyone recruited has the tools to work from home. This could include but is not limited to broadband, a suitable workspace, suitable chair, printer, security software and the company will need to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place.
The lockdown / WFH environment has given many the opportunity to boost skills, knowledge and qualifications. Many organisations are running free to attend webinars, many of which are particularly good and tackle some relevant topics. There have been and continue to be opportunities to study for formal qualifications and I know of several organisations that have, as a result of COVID, introduced online proctoring for their examinations. Also, an increasing number of people have chosen to take part in short term volunteer efforts to support health services.
Many businesses have been forced to make a bit of a reset in business and recruitment hopefully. Whilst this has been forced on them, it presents an opportunity to review recruitment policies: perhaps those that improve aspects of diversity and inclusivity. This is obviously the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business. A recent study in the Harvard Business Review found that “companies with broadly diverse leadership teams were 45 percent more likely to report growth in market share and 70 percent more likely to capture a new market.” Research from consultants McKinsey has shown “a compelling correlation between companies that made gains in D&I over the past five years and these companies’ financial performance.” These links were less clear for public sector organisations.
Effects of COVID on Recruiters
Many recruiters will have been severely affected by the pandemic and lockdown. Many of the clients will have furloughed or even laid off staff. I have heard of companies who have not renewed office leases as they adapt to working from home.
Across the whole economy there are a large number of individuals out of work at the same time, many of whom will not be able to relocate for work or have the skills and experience to meet the requirements of those sectors where there is a demand.
The furloughing of staff has also made vetting candidates harder as there is often no one around to process the vetting request.
Business are realigning their working practices and there is likely to be and increased use of freelance / contract staff and remote working.
The increased use of video calls/meetings mentioned previously has, overall, been positive and this will probably continue, probably as part of a more hybrid approach to the way business operate as they take advantage of potential savings from reduced travel and office costs.
As I write there is still uncertainty over the future trade relationship with Europe, but we know that there will be changes in how we recruit from the EU with free movement set to end and a new points-based immigration system taking effect. More details are available here. https://www.gov.uk/transition
So, we can see that there are many challenges that will affect UK business and consequentially the way they recruit and the security sector needs to be alert to these so that we can play our important role supporting business operations, adding to the bottom line and protecting people, property and assets.
Mike has been active in the security and fire sector for over 30 years as a recruiter, consultant, event organiser and volunteer leader.
He was Vice Chair of ASIS UK for over 10 years and a main board Director of The Security Institute for 6. He is a board member of The Security Commonwealth, a member of the SyI Validation Board Working Group, Secretary to the ASIS Extremism and Political Instability Community (EPIC) and a member of the ASIS International Awards Committee. His main volunteer activity is as UK and Ireland Director of the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO).