How to Re-hire Post Covid

Business Insights

The last year has been particularly tough on SMEs, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a huge amount of disruption. The Federation of Small Businesses has predicted that 250,000 SMEs face collapse without additional support. Many SMEs have been forced to lay off a large proportion of their workforce just to survive. 

So, what happens post lockdown as the economy opens up again and things start to return to normal? You may have little or no staff to fill key roles and will have to recruit quickly. Alan Jenkins, MD of exhibition stand designer Quadrant2Design sums up the worry that many small business owners currently have ‘We know we will need to hire in all departments over the coming months, but we don't exactly know when and how well our industry will return, so every decision requires careful planning’.

But when is the best time to recruit? Doing it too soon will risk having staff with little to do, plus the business may not be solvent enough to cope with the extra wages. But taking too long could jeopardise the running of the business. It will take time to train new teams of staff. They may not have enough staff for restarting the business, which could lead to chaos. If existing staff are over-stretched then customer service and ability to fulfil requirements will be impacted. This could damage the reputation of your business, leaving it stumbling just when you need to make the most of new opportunities.

The steps you take now to improve their recruitment strategy will be essential to coming out on top post pandemic. Things to consider when setting a recruitment strategy:

1. Recognise the skills gap in your business

Now is the time to start looking at the skills gaps that you have across the business, or within your own team. Assessing skills gaps allows you to be more streamlined during the recruitment process and identifying specific areas will ensure that you’re making the correct hire technically as well as culturally. It can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to grow quickly, without any real regard as to how you’ll do that sustainably. To achieve sustainable growth, you must recognise the skills gaps in your business before you do anything else.

2. Do you need to hire or can you upskill instead?

There is a fine line between needing to recruit someone completely new or upskilling current individuals in the business to facilitate the skills gap. Defining that can take some time, ask yourself the following questions before hiring someone new:

  • Are the requirements going to take longer than 3 months for my team to learn? 
  • Are the requirements too niche/technical?
  • Are the requirements permanent or temporary?
  • Will I/my team feel burnt out if we take on this responsibility together?

If you find that you’re answering “yes” to more than two of these questions, then it’s probably time to start writing a job description. Remember, if it’s only a temporary skill gap it may be worth looking at a contract option to facilitate this rather than a permanent hire. 

3. Assess your interview process

Behavioural interviews are defined as “a technique used in which the candidate has the opportunity to demonstrate their potential for succeeding in the new role, by providing specific examples of how they handled similar situations based on their past experience” 
A lot of interviews are based on technical skill and cultural fit, but these are only surface level assessments. Using behavioural interview techniques will not only allow you to understand your candidate pool better, but you can also get a real insight into how the individual deals with challenges. 

Another step that can help to enrich your recruitment process is psychometric testing, also known as aptitude tests. The benefit of a psychometric test is that there’s no right or wrong answer; it allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the individual that is being interviewed, as certain tests can reveal information on how they like to be managed, as well as behavioural style and mental capabilities.

4. Onboarding and post-placement care

Your recruitment process shouldn’t stop when a candidate officially becomes an employee. Post-placement care is crucial to ensuring that your new employee feels included and can settle in with ease. What does your candidate experience currently look like? With many businesses opting for a remote workforce, this needs to be considered if you have also made the decision to have a part, or all of your team remote.

How can you improve and adapt it? Knowing where to start can be difficult.

  • Ask your current employees how they would envision the candidate experience looking like if they were to join the business now.
  • Ask candidates during an interview process what their expectations are so you can get real-time insight into how the candidates of today think.

Post-Covid, recruitment and training are going to be major issues for many companies. Small businesses may have survived the past year with just a few key staff. Training teams of new employees will take time and money, just when you need to focus on the reopening of the business. You may be lucky enough to rehire experienced staff or bring them back from furlough. But if you’re starting from scratch you will need a strategy in place.