Who would have predicted this post lockdown business problem!

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When the pandemic hit and the country went into lockdown, businesses (small businesses and those in retail & hospitality in particular) had to make some hard decisions in order to survive.

Those decisions were made in a vacuum, nothing like this had happened in most people’s living memory, no one knew what to expect; how long lockdown would last, what would be allowed and when, what support would be available, would it be enough and what would the world look like as restrictions started to get lifted.

People, unfortunately, were made redundant as organisations tried to guess at what measures were needed to give them the best chance at survival, others were put on the furlough scheme when it became available and others, where possible, were given the wherewithal to work from home.

Those that were made redundant immediately started looking for other jobs or made the decision to start their own business. Those on furlough found they had a lot of free time on their hands and for some thoughts turned to what direction their career should take with regards to employment and working patterns that best suited the lifestyle they wanted post pandemic. And many of those given the capability of working from home found it better suited their lifestyle and looked for options that offered them this working solution.

The pandemic caused massive disruption to the UK’s workforce in many sectors with a legacy of recruitment problems further down the line.

For some organisations the pandemic was the start of the perfect storm as they lost experienced employees, added to this, many non-UK workers who returned home either couldn’t (Brexit) or didn’t want to return back to the UK to work. And, even though there were some good things in the autumn budget, especially for Retail & Hospitality, the minimum wage increase has the ability to cause further financial headaches especially for small businesses.

Recruitment difficulties have been hitting the news as the country starts to open up again with logistics and shortage of HGV drivers being a prime example. However, there are many other sectors struggling in the background – we have seen it especially with businesses that do data collection and there are no easy answers. Employment is high compared with predictions made at the start of the pandemic and few exceptions for migrant workers are being made to cover the gaps.

Some companies are increasing their salary offers to attract candidates, taking a hit to the bottom line and in effect robbing Peter to pay Paul and putting the problem on another organisations doorstep.

Businesses could take into account the new working practices that future employees or newly established contractors want to live with. When thinking of promotional activity, by identifying the right venues for promotions, organisations can match peak footfall with employee availability and target audience.

Organisations need to, within limits, do whatever they can do to retain staff and make working patterns as attractive as possible; working around school hours and holidays, part time or shift work to fit in as a second job or work around university lectures or join the work from home/zoom meetings movement. Businesses will have tried every channel going as part of their recruitment drive – however, going direct to the public, may still be an option. And, for those that are doing data collection, when engaging the public, a secondary need could turn the conversation to recruitment if the person shows the right attitude.

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