COVID-19: How the pandemic has transformed labour sourcing

by | Jun 23, 2020 | News

By Ged Mason OBE, CEO of the Morson Group 

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused a huge shake up in labour sourcing. From challenges in HR to redistribute teams to cover in-demand services, to the pressure on essential businesses to recruit enough labour to keep the country moving, each organisation faces individual issues.

With no blueprint mapping out the steps to solve these concerns, our expertise in contingency labour planning continues to be sought after. In our pursuit to keep Britain working – and as the official Northern Partner of the KeepBritainWorking.com campaign – we are collaboratively supporting organisations who, due to COVID-19, are facing unprecedented challenges with labour sourcing, providing a range of specialist services and added value options to ensure they can achieve a level of continuity.  

Sector-transferable skills

Businesses in particular sectors – namely pharmaceutical, logistics, healthcare and eCommerce – have seen surges in demand for their products and services. Even if all their staff return from furlough or home working, they still fear they won’t have enough labour resource to deliver their usual service levels. In response, businesses will launch a recruitment drive. 

But when the UK faces a skills shortage in these industries, where will the extra resource come from? In these instances, we encourage businesses to expand their candidate criteria and rather than looking for those with specific qualifications, instead we say to look for individuals who display transferable skills. Their experience might be in a completely unrelated industry – which, previously, might’ve made them an undesirable candidate – but looking outside your usual parameters opens you up to a wider talent pool. 

For example, we’ve seen engineering specialists with decades of experience in aerospace be snapped up by medical device manufacturers; they won’t know the healthcare industry inside out, but at the core of their skills is an ability to design and construct technical equipment. And that’s in need in the medical sector. Elsewhere, we’ve seen contractors who we’ve placed with telecoms companies transferred to the NHS to help upscale their call centres in this time of national emergency. 

Building well rounded teams who are passionate about delivering a key or essential service comes down to more than experience. Often, a cultural fit outweighs any amount of industry certification, and we can help businesses identify the transferrable skills they need to meet demand even when it seems like sourcing extra labour is impossible. 

Internal remobilisation 

For other industries, however, it may be the case that only certain departments within a single organisation need to be upscaled, while others can be put on pause altogether. 

Internal remobilisation solves this challenge. The first step is to analyse what has remained the same about your business and what has changed, in terms of demand. This will help you identify where adjustments need to be made, and you can assess how your existing workforce is equipped to deal with this. 

In many cases, staff can be redeployed within the business. Again, this comes down to looking at skillsets and personalities to see which are transferable and can be effective in different departments or functions – even if these individuals have little experience in that space. The benefits are that your team remains consistent and you can potentially unfurlough easier than planned. 

However, reorganisation can often leave gaps in terms of resource and firms are sometimes reluctant, in these cases, to quickly employ new blood which might not be required long term. To fill this temporary void, consider short-term, contingent labour. For example, we provide highly-skilled HR contractors to businesses, assist with the remodelling of strategic initiatives, deliver change and transformation programmes to ease the strain, as well as upskilling internal HR teams, and in turn, saving huge amounts of money and time when compared to recruiting and training new team members. 

Post-COVID, businesses facing revenue pressures will be likely to only recruit for permanent positions in critical roles – health and safety, for example. When the situation changes week by week, it is a safer option to adopt contingent labour pipelines that are used to quickly scaling up and scaling back down in line with demand. For teams which have remobilised, consolidated or reconciliated, contractors are the most commercially viable option. 

We want to keep Britain working and though that will mean significant changes in every industry, it may well even highlight benefits you had never previously considered. Whatever challenge your company faces in terms of sourcing labour, Morson can offer advice on which solution is best for your needs – or can act as the solution itself. 

To find out more, contact our Group Sales Director, David Lynchehaun, on david.lynchehaun@morson.com

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