Strong leaders will help business bounce back after coronavirus crisis

There has never been a more important time to ensure organisations have strong, robust leadership in place. The recruitment landscape may not be as bleak as one imagines for those with the right talent

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live – and work – beyond recognition. The effect on many industries will be profound and relentless, lasting long after the lockdown has been lifted.

Recruitment has been hugely impacted by Covid-19, with travel restrictions and self-isolation policies forcing businesses in many industries to close, downsize or reduce working hours while others have introduced a freeze on taking on more staff.

Yet while many industries are reducing or freezing recruitment during the pandemic, others are pressing ahead with hiring mandates. The aviation and construction sectors are suffering; however, sectors such as pharmaceuticals remain strong. Meanwhile, demand for workers in areas such as food production, supermarkets and cleaning has soared, while in other areas, such as travel and hospitality, the requirement has virtually disappeared.

Business as usual – or almost

More than ever, we are noting that clients continue to seek first-class leaders. There has never been a more important time to ensure organisations have strong, robust leadership in place to steer them through the current unchartered waters.

A good business leader will always be the backbone of a business. During the pandemic these leaders must consider how they emerge stronger – and what resources they need to have in place to take them forward. After the last recession, there was a surge in demand for senior leadership roles such as CEOs, general managers and managing directors, in addition to business development chiefs.

Having effective leadership in place ensures that companies emerge from the current crisis in the healthiest possible position. A good leader will also show support, reassurance and guidance to their employees, giving a business a sense of direction when it needs it most.

Digital solutions

For those who are continuing to recruit, social distancing presents a challenge. Fortunately, the technology not only exists but is widely available to enable face-to-face contact to continue on a virtual level.

Until now, the recruitment sector has required a good deal of face-to-face contact with both clients and candidates. However, video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams enable companies us to reach both clients and candidates when meeting in person is out of the question.

Video conferencing already offered benefits, in terms of saving travel costs and time. In today’s environment, it is difficult to envisage how remote working would be possible without it. The video conference call allows participants to see and be seen; the sense of distance is removed. When the camera is on, people are less likely to zone out than if they were on a regular telephone call. The result of maintaining eye contact is a better level of engagement.

It’s important to remember that in an interview situation, the process should be taken seriously. Just because it may feel more casual than a face-to-face job interview, candidates should still be fully prepared, do their research and dress the part.

It can be more difficult to bond with a person via a video camera as opposed to meeting face to face, so to get the most out of the experience, before the call begins, prepare your workspace, test the technology and dress for the occasion.

Now is the time to master the art of the video conference. It is possible that some of the changes we are currently experiencing to our ways of working will remain long after the pandemic has ended. Video conferencing may emerge as the new norm – provided of course that the method used is fair and inclusive.

The right leadership for when the tide turns

This pandemic will end, and the business world will recover. Being in a place to emerge stronger is critical and will only happen if you have the right people in place. When the tide does turn, businesses will need to concentrate on doing what they do best in order to recover.

Taking on senior staff may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, yet good leaders will be more valuable than ever. Managed correctly, it can lead to excellent results at a time when they’re needed most.

Emma Robinson is Director of Red Diamond Executive Headhunters.

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