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Our Managing Director, Martin Wainman, explores the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 on the attitude of future job seekers, and which businesses will be successful when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought uncertainty for businesses in almost every industry and sector. However, if there’s one thing we can all bank on, it’s that both current and future employees have been watching your actions very closely. In short, get ready to be held to account. 

Previously, questions regarding loyalty and ambition were solely aimed at candidates in a recruitment process. Now, employers are likely to find similar enquiries fired back at them. We fully expect (and will actively encourage) candidates to ask prospective employers about how the company and its senior team managed during the pandemic, as well as what measures were in place to protect employees. Additionally, your existing workforce will expect you to be proactive in all COVID-19 messaging, especially if you’ve had to make some difficult decisions along the way, and particularly if mistakes have been made. 

We saw some of the UK’s largest employers make very public blunders throughout the pandemic. In April, Sports Direct found itself on the wrong side of popular opinion following attempts to keep its stores open, arguing that exercise equipment counted as an “essential service”. The public backlash, coupled with the release of a YouGov poll, which revealed 88 per cent of Brits didn’t class sports equipment stores as a key service, saw the retail giant close its doors. 

They weren’t the only ones. Liverpool FC also performed a stunning U-turn after announcing it was going to furlough non-playing staff and subsequently facing fierce backlash from fans. Both cases demonstrate a changing employer/employee dynamic and the heightened sense of social conscience brought on by the pandemic. Whereas a positive PR spin might have worked for such situations in the past, the likes of Glassdoor, Indeed, Google Reviews and, of course, social media, means businesses have more eyeballs on them than ever before. In short, poor treatment can no longer be brushed under the carpet and, for some, will stick like glue for a long time. 

While offering a decent salary, top-notch benefits and a healthy workplace culture will always be paramount when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, it will be equally vital to prove that you’ve demonstrated compassion, transparency and, crucially, treated your people well, particularly during tough times. 


Support For The Next Steps 

To help HR and Talent Acquisition professionals adapt to the changing needs of modern businesses, Omni RMS has launched our Life After Lockdown series. Each week, our team of resourcing transformation specialists will provide practical advice on the critical areas of Talent Acquisition and retention that requires immediate attention. 

In addition, you can download Life After Lockdown: A practical guide to Workforce Planning and Talent Management, which takes a deep dive into the: 

  • Need for improved workforce planning to help strike a balance between the short-term bottom line and a return to growth. 
  • Importance of internal mobility and how changing business requirements throughout the pandemic have seen a skills redeployment of epic proportions.
  • Focus of Talent Acquisition teams and how it will change in line with the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and sector. 


For more information on Workforce Planning & Talent Management in the age of COVID-19 download our practical guide to  Life After Lockdown.