Laura O’Driscoll, Managing Director of local businesses OD Talent Solutions, based just outside Taunton, talks to us about the impact that Covid19 is having on her business, and how she has been coping with the lockdown.
The recruitment industry is one of many sectors impacted by the recent lockdown and it is leaving many companies involved in recruitment with an uncertain future. The current lockdown and isolation policies mean that many businesses have been forced to shut or downsize. There have been mass layoffs and a significant reduction in working hours across industries like retail and hospitality and as a result, many organisations have put their permanent recruitment on hold until the crisis ends.
For those industries still recruiting, social distancing makes the task more difficult; much of it has to be done online rather than face to face. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams are being used both to communicate with clients and to interview and ‘meet’ with candidates although face to face interviews are currently out of bounds. This is something we may see more and more in the UK as a way to continue to safely recruit, even after the lockdown is over.
There are fewer candidates due to the virus, either through sickness, or fear of getting sick and, for industries like healthcare, there are added challenges due to urgency, as companies try to ramp up staff numbers in preparation for high levels of outbreak.
Laura said, “At OD Talent, we work mainly with Small to Medium Sized businesses to recruit permanent roles and plan their Recruitment Strategy and growth plans. Sadly, it is the small to medium sized businesses across the South West are also the businesses that are being most affected by the current Covid19 situation. I set the business up 18 months ago and it was all going really well, and my colleague Sean and I were building a really positive client relationships across the region. We had set up our own networking events at Hubbox in Taunton so it is all very disappointing to have had to put it all on hold.
This is a genuinely worrying time for all business owners, but the government support has been welcomed by many. It has meant that many can operate at some level during the current crisis, whilst for others, it simply allows them to plan for when we come out of the crisis. Sadly, few are in a position to even think about growing their team further at this stage.
In terms of emotional support, the Somerset business community has been a real lifesaver and personally I have received lots of support and helpful advice from people who I had not previously connected with. Now is definitely the time when the business community must support each other and work collaboratively".
Laura also stressed that trying to remain positive is absolutely vital as businesses need to be fighting fit and ready to hit the ground running.
From a professional perspective, she recommends that all business owners make the best of this time, review their current recruitment processes, strategies, employer branding and candidate experience, so that when they’re ready to think about permanent recruitment again they are ready to go.
Laura concludes with this final bit of advice, “Find joy where you can, consider others and keep in contact with the business community where possible to avoid that feeling of isolation. There will be a time, hopefully in the not too distant future where we are ready to think about growth again and when we can put this all behind us.”