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Staying on-board

Coleen Cloherty, MD at Build Recruitment looks at remote on-boarding and why the Property, Construction and Facilities recruitment sector can help improve people’s job prospects post-lockdown

The past few weeks have been unprecedented in terms of upheaval and change to all our personal and professional lives. Things almost unimaginable are now considered the new ‘normal’. Lockdown has been announced and implemented to mean that only those who cannot work from home are allowed to attend a workplace. Town-centres and offices are deserted and some industries have come to a complete standstill.

A virus that seemed so far away at the end of 2019 has affected us all a gargantuan way. We have found out who our key workers really are and hopefully now we all realise people can no longer be referred to as unskilled or low skilled staff ever again. We now rely on all our key workers simply to continue to survive.

At Build Recruitment , we have communicated to all our clients that we are fully operational and working remotely. We are fortunate that we are able to operate in this way and over the past eight weeks have been using communications technology such as Starleaf, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and Skype.

Clients are still hiring and some who cannot work from home are continuing to interview face-to-face while adhering to social distancing measures in a safe manner. Those of our clients who are able to work from home are interviewing and hiring entirely remotely. For many companies that would not have considered doing this before – it has now become a necessity if they wish to add new hires to their businesses. We expect this trend to continue even as restrictions to working practices are expected to ease over the coming months. Working from home has been tested in a widespread and mainstream manner, and it can no longer be claimed that working from home cannot be done en masse.

Many hundreds of thousands of people have now been furloughed under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and are naturally worried about their future post-June when the current scheme expires. It isn’t widely known or understood that furloughed workers can work in alternative employment during this time but we recommend they do consult their employers before doing so. Many of the hundreds of thousands of additional key workers required for the national effort include some of these furloughed employees.

There have sadly been hundreds of thousands of workers who have been made redundant for various reasons during this time who look like they may not be able to return to a similar role in the near future. Hospitality, catering, construction, education and manufacturing are some of the worst hit sectors. While some of our Construction & Social Housing clients have announced they are reopening sites/operations in May, only time will tell if this is possible. Over the last eight weeks companies have been busy dealing with scaling down their operations and dealing with the crisis as best as they can. Some companies have been planning and preparing for their return. They have been re-organising their supply chains and making sure they have sufficient supplies, equipment and crucially PPE, to re-open safely.

At Build recruitment we are monitoring all our markets closely by observing the jobs registered, the volumes of CV’s sent to clients and the roles registered. Some of our FM clients have had to bolster their support service teams, and in order to maintain social distancing guidelines this has added extra cost and complexity to delivering services. These have to be monitored, reviewed and reinforced or changed when necessary.

It is important to recognise how FM companies, along with the Public and Third Sector have in my view stepped up and been counted by supplying staff into some of the most dangerous and high-risk areas where they are needed most. Our NHS teams have been amazing and continue to defy the odds to protect us and save lives. This is changing the perception held by some of the public sector.

As a Business Services organisation we follow and grow as the market grows. We therefore need to contract when capacity falls within the market. We have watched demand fall off a cliff in some sectors and fall significantly in almost all areas. However, some areas of our FM business remain buoyant and we remain hopeful that demand will return when things are freed up a little and the NHS can cope with potential capacity issues.

Some of our clients have told us that certain competitor recruitment companies have stopped supplying staffing services completely, and aren’t planning on returning until the market demand returns. These are of course the worst trading conditions I have seen over the last 20 years in recruitment, however I do feel this is a little short-sighted. We have just approved and are making payments to in-scope furloughed temporary workers and urge others in the sector to do this. The decision and ability to do this rests with the employment agency, and by our doing so, jobs can be protected and our clients can aim to re-hire these individuals as soon as they are able.

We also recommend that furloughed employees and those still working keep in touch with each other and check in weekly or periodically. Training and development should not be neglected at this time and we recommend people update their CVs and review their own personal development. Here are Build we are happy to carry out 121 phone or video call consultations along with providing free CV advice and guidance.

The sector post Coronavirus will look markedly different than what occurred before. Some sectors may never recover to what they once were and many people will retrain into new sectors. The FM, Property and Construction sector needs many new recruits and the skills shortages will still exist when we return to more normal times.

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