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The four key impacts of Covid-19 on your business and how to navigate them

Lighthouse Storm Huge Wave

Stephen Brown

Reset – Restructure – Redundancies – Recruit

All these “Re” words seem to be defining the journey of most businesses right now. Depending on the length of your sales cycle and market will depend where you see yourself on this map right now.

Businesses with longer lead times in production, such as bespoke capital equipment are likely to have been slower to see the impact of the pandemic on their business as others in more immediate supply-chains, these are however now experiencing a gap in their sales pipelines. Whatever the size of your business, or your pace through this journey, we are seeing a lot of commonality in the recovery process.

1. Reset: (most businesses affected will have done this by now), it involved rationalising production, short circuiting systems to get things done with agility and implementing remote working teams and communication platforms. It is also the birthplace of diversification and the need to adapt and survive.

For example, we saw one client quickly move from high-end products, which were bespoke designed, manufactured and installed and sold through showrooms, move into self-assembly units sold as kits online, and another client move from event merchandise into branded PPE.

Some sectors remained unscathed such as scientific testing, whilst others desperately sought out contracts in utilities, defence and med-tech to replace aerospace work.

2. Restructure: To fit the new shape of a re-modelled business, restructuring is taking place with increasing incidence and speed. This has put many roles at risk of redundancy and created opportunities for new positions alongside them. Whilst in a pre-Covid Britain, productivity per employee was lower than other key economies, (largely due to the cost of ‘stock-piling’ scarce skills), the sea change into preserving cash as an absolute priority has changed the shape of many businesses. As businesses look for new markets, products and ways of working and selling their products and services, new types of expertise are required.

For example, we have a client now developing a completely new logistics and supply chain model to provide continuity for critical components into their market with associated and new automated customer ordering systems and delivery customisation, requiring a completely new team and skillset.

In tandem with this, we are seeing an increase in our confidential Search & Selection business activities, enabling businesses to recruit to some new roles, whilst others are being made redundant.

3. Redundancies: Cost cutting through job cutting is extremely prevalent at present, whether this is due to straightforward order loss or restructuring making some former roles redundant. Those businesses hardest hit have been the fastest to respond in this way and as previously scarce skills have started to flood the market, the pressure of holding on to people with scarce skills has been reduced as the available pool of such people increases. Redundancies are becoming more common a government support through furloughing is tapering down.

In common with the agility seen by many of our clients, our HR Consulting Division has moved into redundancy process consulting and is providing a guiding hand to many firms who are undergoing their first large scale redundancy programme for some time.

To respond, we have launched an Outplacement Service, where our Consultants are using their candidate preparation skills to coach redundant employees in how to find and secure new opportunities.

4. Recruit: For some businesses this opportunity to upskill with formerly unavailable talent has proven to be a major boost. Our clients are up-skilling and ‘top-grading’, meaning the disruption in the market has both exposed areas of weakness in their teams and structures (as Warren Buffet said: “It’s not until the tide goes out you can see who was swimming naked”), whilst at the same the time providing the opportunity to recruit back better.

For example, we have a client who previously felt their accounts team was sufficiently skilled, only to find that when they required an integrated Balance Sheet, P&L and Cash flow forecast for essential funding, they were unable to generate one of sufficient quality in the available time. This type of issue has created immediate opportunities for interim or contract workers and for businesses to reassess the new requirements of every key role and to hire at the right level.

But Buyer Beware!! Due to the amount of disruption in the employment market, there is now an even greater risk of hiring ‘the wrong person’. Whilst the unfortunate circumstances have caused many good people to be let go, we have heard the term “an opportunity to do some dead-heading” from businesses on more than one occasion. The result is we are seeing applications for roles from people who either don’t fit the profile of the role they are applying for, or they are candidates looking for a safe haven or bridge to other things. Finding the right person is therefore still like finding a needle in a haystack, but the haystack just got a hundred times bigger.

Our thorough and robust recruitment process reduces the risk of you getting it wrong and the attendant costs of such mistakes. It also removes your burden of selecting candidates from increased volumes of applicants (A General Manager role we recently posted received 287 applications in 24 hours – I’m glad that wasn’t my inbox!)

To find out how we can help you and your business navigate through employment the employment related journey of the economic effects of Covid-19 please email us at