While the pandemic has put unparalleled pressure on businesses around the world, many employers in the recruitment sector have used it as an opportunity to take stock and positively restructure their businesses, ensuring that they respond to the opportunities for change that the pandemic has created and come out the other side stronger and more competitive. In this article, we look at the innovative ways in which recruitment businesses can respond to the pandemic with a positive message for their workforce.
The national lockdown and the requirement for employees to work from home where possible demonstrated that employers can allow greater flexibility in their employees' working arrangements and challenged the preconception that work needs to be done in person. Numerous companies have embraced working from home and decided to adopt it more widely moving forwards.
Not only is flexible working popular among employees, but it also helps to address barriers to inclusion. Studies have found that flexible working is of significant assistance to persons with disabilities and it has obvious benefits for working parents or those with caring responsibilities as it allows them to arrange their workday around their other commitments. Flexible working can promote a more inclusive workforce, without sacrificing productivity.
Diversity and inclusion
The Black Lives Matter movement and the wider conversation it started has encouraged many employers to revisit their diversity and inclusion initiatives and consider the ways in which they can promote change within their own organisations. This has included conducting analysis of their recruitment practices, setting targets to increase representation, establishing diversity and inclusion groups, requiring staff to take mandatory diversity training and reassessing their policies on discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Rethinking workplace culture. The pandemic has dramatically reduced the appeal of upmarket offices, in-house facilities and company-sponsored social events, forcing employers to think of new ways to revitalise the workplace and encourage their employees to return to work. This has ranged from subsidising taxis, providing free breakfasts, offering occasional free care for dependents and the supply of free COVID testing kits.
Many employers have had to reconsider how they attract and retain talent in a climate where they are cash poor. Our Incentives Team have set out some helpful pointers on creative ways of re-incentivising employees here.
The pandemic has seen a surge in mental health issues among employees as they contend with increased stress and anxiety, isolation and health concerns. A growing awareness of mental health has enabled companies to consider their internal practices and policies, develop new systems to support their employees and amend their policies around disciplinary and sickness absence procedures to show a greater understanding of mental health issues. Greater pastoral support for employees and more open attitudes to mental health can ultimately serve to reduce the likelihood of long term sick leave or loss of talent, as well as ensuring inclusion of those with less visible disabilities in the workplace.