Post Lockdown – What are our predictions for the future?

It’s the end of the (old) world as we know it (and I feel fine) 

Now I have finished with my review of how businesses and individuals have been coping, (Click to read Part One and Part Two of the New Normal) I thought I would conclude the final part with some predictions:

  • Too many people, too few jobs – I do believe that we will start to see an increase in the announcement of redundancies as the Government looks to end the Job Retention Scheme.  Once businesses start to incur the significant costs of staff and premises it really does depend on how their revenues recover post lockdown as to whether they can maintain their pre-covid employment levels.  We are already seeing some businesses (including those owned by Gordon Ramsay) using the Job Retention Scheme funding to pay people through their redundancy notice. 
  • Head Office/Home Office balance – This isolation has proved that a lot of people can successfully work from home and businesses are still able to function.  Offices will need to be repurposed in order to cater for reduced employment densities (most offices are now aiming to operate at 20-25% capacity immediately after lockdown easing) and the way we interact with them will change.  Some businesses have already made the decision to not open their offices until 2021.  Most of us will still desire that face-to-face interaction and collaboration with our colleagues, albeit, on a less frequent basis. 
  • Hours to suit – Flexi-time will see a resurgence. Most businesses will need to show willing to enable their staff to commute with minimal exposure at peak times on public transport. The authorities and environmentalists would like to see everyone walk/cycle to work (participation will inevitably be higher during the nice weather) but where public transport is the only practical mode it will mean flexible start and finish times to minimise peak travel. 
  • Digital dominance – We will all emerge from lockdown with new abilities for the digital age – particularly around remote working and video communication.  I feel that this will help diminish the need for some physical face-to-face contact in order to get business done.  It will mean greater scrutiny and justification of travel, particularly with use of public transport.  There will also be an emergence of new rising stars within businesses who have a natural flair for engaging in the digital world – some skills may translate from the physical world, other competencies will be discovered or developed. 
  • Home delivery and online will rise sharper than recent historic growth levels – The grocery sector has seen phenomenal growth in demand for online services in the last few months, to the extent that they have been unable to fulfil all the potential. I believe this will continue as more capacity is added and the crisis proves to be the trigger that forces a step-change in people’s behaviour, with more preferring to have their regular groceries delivered, to the detriment of the environmental considerations. 
  • People will shop local and support their independents – The successful independents have been very good at adapting their offer in the crisis and really engaging in support of their local customers.  I believe there will be a lot more emphasis that people put on supporting these independent businesses and shopping local. 
  • Retail Phoenix from the flames – There will always be a physical retail/leisure/F&B sector in the UK but there will be some clear winners and losers that emerge.  Some businesses will be rendered flightless (excuse the analogy) and be left to wither in the embers, struggling with business models that are unsustainable moving forward. Other businesses will adapt and survive.  
  • The death of retail browsing? The old ‘retail therapy’ rule book will need to be ripped up. Conversion rates should increase as people make visits with a clear purpose, and average basket sizes will increase as shopper frequency will be down and customers will be unable to try before they buy (due to the changing rooms being unavailable). This will result in an increase in returns and in the challenge retailers face on getting this returned stock sold.  
  • Retail Property is broken, and it needs Landlords and tenants to fix it – Both parties need to share the pain out of the current crisis. There has to be a recognition that Landlords still have bills to pay and so withholding rent for an extended period of time may not be acceptable.  This crisis will drive a fundamental re-correction in retail rents in order to take account of the new function of retail and ongoing rental sustainability.  There also needs to be a drive for more flexible leases where both parties share in the upside but share the pain of depressed performance.
  • Staycation havoc – With businesses encouraging staff to take holiday, people wanting a change of scenery from their home, and continued uncertainty on the opening up of international borders (and who will be around to take us to foreign climes) this can only mean that everyone will be holidaying in this country in 2020.  My advice, particularly if you have children, is to get your October half term and Xmas trips booked as soon as possible as prices are likely to go through the roof. 
Have you planned your staycation?
  • We will be better prepared for next time – This may be a once in a lifetime event (or longer) but be sure that UK plc will need to become a little more self-sufficient in certain areas – particularly with regards necessary medical supplies.  Who is to say that some forms of manufacturing won’t come back to our shores?
  • It will be an employers’ market – to a certain degree.  With too many candidates chasing too few roles the big challenge will be efficiently filtering applications.  This is where, as a recruiter, we can do our big value add to hiring managers and HR teams.   This will also mean that candidates will have to be more on point throughout the process than they have ever been, from their CV and covering letter, to interview skills – again, something we are well placed to support.  

Give us a call on +44(0)7918 653 877 / +44(0)7979 756 257 or email if you would like to talk about finding talented individuals wishing to consider a fresh challenge to join your team.

Image: Photo by Mark Arron Smith from Pexels

Hey, how ya doin’? I’m sorry you couldn’t get through…

It has been an interesting month as a Recruitment Consultant, working without any live assignments. I did have one existing role until a couple of weeks ago, but I advised my client to pause it for now as it is unlikely that candidates will agree to a move during such uncertain times. It’s important that we all adapt to adversity and use this down time wisely.

I just called to say how much I care… 

At Red Tiger Talent we are using the time to speak to a lot of people. Of course, speaking to people is at the heart of successful recruitment, but our diary certainly allows for much more call time. Over the years we have built a very good relationship with a large number of people and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to check in with each and every one of them. Recent conversations tend to focus on checking in with how people are coping and in providing careers coaching and advice. Conversations vary from how people are coping with the isolation, advice on CVs and new skills to learn while in furlough. Most people are now experts in Zoom, Teams or Houseparty. We’ve also discussed what the retail landscape will look like, concerns about being made redundant and ideas on where next in their career. We do feel it is our duty (as well as the duty of our friends, family and work colleagues) to check in with people (both clients and candidates) and ensure they are OK in these very isolating times.

Red Tiger are in a very unique and privileged position in that we speak to a lot of businesses and so have a pretty good handle on the range of measures being taken to ride through this particularly tough time. We are very careful to not breech any client or candidate confidences, but we are in a position to provide clear assurances to concerned individuals that they are not the only ones who are experiencing specific concerns and challenges at this time.

If you do get a call from Paul or I, it is because we want to see how you are doing and are likely to offer a different conversation to the ones you’ve been having with friends, family or colleagues.

Call me, anytime just call me 

One of the more frustrating parts of recruitment is the number of phone messages that I leave that seem to disappear into the ether. Whilst I appreciate that there are a number of reasons for no response, you certainly need a thick skin to be a recruiter. Let me give you an example, over the last week I have made 40 calls to clients and candidates which have been divided up into the following outcomes:

  • Called and spoken to recipient first time – 35% 
  • Left a message and the recipient has replied and we have since spoken – 25% 
  • Called and left a message but, to date, no reply – 40% 

An initial 35% hit rate is quite good – over a third of my calls are being answered and it seems to have been a convenient time to have a chat with someone. I really relish these calls as I am also socially isolated, so I thrive on having a different conversation in comparison to those I typically have with my family (what time’s tea? What we having for tea? Why is the wifi so slow?). In the last week my hit rate rises to 60% of calls resulting in a conversation, if you include the 25% of calls where I left a message and the recipient returned my call. Most Sales Managers would think that 60% is an excellent return on my efforts, but I am not in sales and I currently have nothing to sell.

I understand that we may well be low down people’s priority lists, or that the last thing they want to do is speak to a pushy recruiter, but it is the 40% that I call and hear nothing (there is still time for this number to drop!) that can, at times, be frustrating. This is not a cold call list; it is people that I have more than a traditional ‘functional’ recruiter-candidate relationship with. These are people who I’ve either worked with in some capacity or built up more of a ‘trusted advisor’ relationship with.

Moving, just keep moving 

There still seems to be some movement of people (likely agreed prior to Coronavirus) in the last month or so, driven by a promotion or change of role in their current firm, or a move to another business. These changes instantly make our database out of date. I shouldn’t complain as if there was no movement there would be no need for recruitment. I’m also sad to say that we have started getting inbound enquiries from candidates seeking roles as a result of redundancy – a trend that is likely to gather pace over the next few months.

You’ve got to work hard, if you want anything at all 

The Red Tiger team have not been furloughed and in summary we are dividing our time between three main areas.

  1. Red Tiger Training – Based on feedback from clients and candidates we are busy developing our skills training materials.  Paul is creating an ‘Introduction to Alteryx’ training course and I am repurposing our ‘Excel for Business Analytics‘ training for a wider, remote audience.  These will be launched in the next few weeks – please get in touch if you wish to find out more about either of these courses. 
  2. Red Tiger Consulting – Our Location Analytics Consulting business has certainly taken a back seat over the last year or so, largely due to the rapid growth of our recruitment practice.  We have a wide range of experienced contractors on our books, all available at very competitive rates, so if you have a requirement for short term analytics resource then please get in touch to discuss further.
  3. Red Tiger Talent – Effort on our core activity of recruitment is still our focus.  We are using this downtime as an opportunity to tidy up our extensive contacts and candidate database.  We are also putting the finishing touches to the latest salary survey which will be released in early May.  We will continue with our calls to clients and candidates – hopefully this time we will manage to have a catch up, or if we leave a message please find time to call us back.  Our blogs are also coming thick and fast and we are planning a number of other ways to reach out to clients and candidates in the months ahead. 

PS – Message me if you know the songs that I reference in the sub-headings to each section, no cheating, mind! 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Its Xmas, Xmas, Children Singing, Singing, Church Bells Ringing, Ringing…

I dream of a January 2019 where the news feeds are dominated by positive stories of retailers posting strong Xmas trading figures and looking forward to continued growth in the year ahead.  2018 has largely been dominated by negative stories of closures and the removal of a number of retailers from our retail landscape, so I am not convinced that my dream will become a reality.

The ringing church bells depicted in the blog’s title are more likely to be for funerals marking the death of some more familiar high street brands.  Incidentally, the title to this blog was shamelessly stolen from an unfinished Christmas Carol that my younger brother John penned when he was in Primary School as part of a national competition.

Doing it for the kids

In recent years my siblings and I have agreed to only provide presents for the children.   Prior to the adult present ban, it was customary for at least one member of the family to be disappointed, so in came the traditional asking people what they would like approach to Xmas shopping. This process resulted in the removal of any semblance of thought and surprise to the whole affair and somewhat detracted from the whole point of Xmas.

The ease of online

The internet has made things a whole lot easier with an endless stream of suggestions, recommendations and bargains all at your fingertips on your smartphone.  I have lost count of the number of people who brag about doing all of their Xmas shopping online.  I have been in a presentation to a major shopping centre where most of the attendees admitted to using online as their principal means for Xmas shopping. Only last week I was involved in a discussion about someone who bought a £2.50 pair of shoe laces for next day delivery on Amazon Prime as it was deemed more convenient than going to a local store.  What price will we pay for online ‘convenience’?

Prime of life

It’s hard to write a blog about Xmas shopping without referencing Amazon’s role. In the US approximately 60% of all Amazon shoppers are now paying for the Amazon Prime Service, and at least 70% of Americans with incomes of $150,000 or more have Amazon Prime. It wasn’t that long ago that to me home delivery seemed like a massive inconvenience. You were more likely to get the product at an inconvenient time or on a day you weren’t at home, with the added bonus of a trip to the local collection depot to retrieve your parcel. Now we have every means possible to ensure that Amazon can deliver your parcel (via your work, preferred safe place, a neighbour, or a locker).  Newer additions to the Prime app include a live update as to where your deliver is. My delivery is currently 7 stops away right now.

An inconvenient truth

How can we all contribute in our own little way to the ongoing challenge (and opportunity) of online, particularly its impact on local bricks and mortar retail? Let’s start by looking at other initiatives closer to home.  In a bid to support the dwindling number of independent record stores we now have a Record Store Day (ironically an initial online search about record day brings up Amazon as the first link) which will be on the 13thApril in 2019.   We now have an Independents’ day (4thJuly!) and an Independents’ Month (July). My suggestion, which will have to be implemented for Xmas 2019, would be to ban all online Xmas present purchases and encourage buying from local, ideally, independent retailers. It’s like a Retro December where everyone makes an effort to pretend the internet doesn’t exist (delete the app for the month!) and take time to really think about what people may like for Xmas and how you go about sourcing locally.  The process will take longer but it should be much more rewarding. It will also likely eliminate those embarrassing situations where two people have bought the same present for someone.

Keep it local

Partially switching our behaviour from online to bricks and mortar in December will help but retailers generally cannot survive on one months’ strong trading.  These independent retailers can’t often compete on price alone, they have to differentiate on service and quality. Supporting your local independents has the double benefit of keeping the local retail offer vibrant and fresh (do we want a clone high street?) and are a proven way to maximise the retention of spend in the local economy.  These local shop keepers are there for advice (the service element) and may even help with recommendations on suitable presents for your loved ones.

So how will you do your Christmas shopping this year? Maybe you have already finished and are feeling a little smug as everyone else panic buys off Amazon? Well even if your Xmas shopping is a wrap for this year (excuse the pun!) it is worth considering your shopping tactics for next Xmas and maybe make it a local one.

Author: Steve Halsall, Director, Red Tiger Consulting

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash