Opportunities and challenges Covid-19 is presenting to job seekers and businesses

Clinton Poore our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 02 June 2020
Much has been written about the negative repercussions Covid-19 is having on industries and businesses, but little said about the glimmers of hope and opportunities that are emerging in the wake of the global pandemic. In addition to the massive groundswell of working from home, we’re also seeing fundamental changes to the way that businesses operate and professionals interact – for better and worse. With economies reopening across Europe and North America, we can expect to face many questions in the coming months about how we work – and indeed, how we look for work. Here’s an overview of the challenges and opportunities faced by candidates and organisations due to Covid-19.

A state of play

There is no hiding from the fact that virtually all markets and sectors have been impacted by the pandemic in some way. An April Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics found that 24% of responding businesses had temporarily closed or paused trading from 23 March-5 April, with the arts, entertainment and recreation sector hit particularly hard. Within Hanover’s sectors, we saw initial client enablement issues with home working and bandwidth. However, these have been quickly resolved, with most of our clients reporting surprising success in utilising technology to encourage remote working.

From an executive recruitment perspective, movement has been slow. Firms have been preserving cash to protect hard-hit revenues, and non-critical hires have been put on hold. Operational efficiencies are the priority, with organisations measuring efficiencies to ensure a new working from home landscape still allows them to achieve profitability in a more streamlined, post-Covid-19 world. We’ve also seen an enormous focus on wellbeing and wellness, with clients going the extra mile to help their staff in this uncertain time. Within the insurance sector we're seeing a lot of media coverage about business interruption, refunds versus vouchers within travel insurance, and coverage wording issues where pandemics may not be covered. The group risk protection market has seen an uplift, however, particularly amongst companies that have proven to be flexible and agile. Life insurance companies are also relatively protected, while pension and investment firms, as well as asset managers, are experiencing more degrees of market turbulence.

Emerging stronger after Covid-19

Organisations looking to bounce back from the pandemic need to take a close look at their business and understand where the greatest impact has been felt, and indeed where the biggest opportunities are. We expect to see clients looking for more strategic and commercial skillsets amongst their staff, recruiting candidates with market contacts and strong subject matter expertise. Working from home will undoubtedly continue, so clients will put emphasis on self-starters and professionals who are confident with technology.

Now more than ever, it’s clear that people are an organisation’s greatest asset. This is an ideal time to embark on strategic hiring to gain market share, as well as tap into the knowledge and experience that professionals have in order to help evolve the business. We’ll likely see organisations seeking assistance with market intelligence and leadership solutions, partnering with executive recruitment firms to ensure they have access to not only the best talent, but also the most insightful industry intelligence available. With deep market knowledge and years of experience in executive recruitment, Hanover is ideally placed to assist with this post-pandemic resourcing.

Reservations around working from home

Since the start of lockdown, many firms have been surprised at how successful working from home has been operationally. We’re seeing clients thinking now about how to measure staff productivity in this new setting, as well as how effective long-term remote working might be. However, businesses must be mindful of the need to balance the social elements of work with the flexibility of remote working. Virtual catch ups, quizzes, chat groups and video calls go some way to mimicking the office interaction, but many workers want more of a physical presence after such a lengthy lockdown period. Similarly, virtual interviewing and onboarding will not completely replace the demand for face-to-face meetings, particularly for mid-to senior-level hires.

Technology is key to ensuring the operational success of a work from home business model, while cyber security will play an even greater part.

Looking to the future

Insurance and other industries face a range of challenges and opportunities in the wake of Covid-19, many of which are still emerging. One thing we know already is that the daily commute will be reassessed, and in some areas may be eliminated as more flexible work options and rotation-based policies are implemented. 90% of the UK’s workforce commuted to work before Covid-19, and many of those commutes were in excess of 30 minutes each way. Organisations who give this time back to professionals by allowing more home working may see heightened productivity.

Companies will implement dedicated work from home policies and we will see more localised hiring. Business travel may well be replaced by virtual meetings, with organisations saving revenue on travel costs but potentially spending more on tech solutions and tools to support home working. With many hit hard financially by the pandemic, salary packages may remain lower than usual, however we’re already seeing firms get creative with how they can secure the best candidates. Where they can’t compete on salary, they are looking to benefits to attract and retain employees, something we are likely to see continuing into the future.

Tech-enablement will remain a top priority, as will wellbeing, diversity and inclusion. There will be more communication and collaboration between companies and clients, as well as with employees, and a focus on reskilling, upskilling and retraining to help clients retain their best people, and indeed to help jobseekers remain employable in the competitive job market.

How Hanover can help you

Ultimately, the insurance industry - just like all sectors – is working hard now to prepare for the future. For most, this has involved preserving finances whilst doing the best they can for their people, and making a plan for business as usual and returning to work. Hanover’s insurance team continues to support our clients through this time, providing everything from recruitment advice through to insights on industry sentiment. If you’re interested in hearing more about how the insurance market or any of Hanover’s industries have responded to Covid-19, we’d love to chat. Contact us here to get started. 

Thank you to Rob Bulpitt, Alistair Brindley, Amanda Baggott and Thomas Meade-Hunt for contributing to this article.

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