It is always great to hear from a client after two years of “no job orders anticipated for a while.” The pandemic had hit Marla’s company especially hard. The decision was made in March 2020 for all staff to move to entirely from-home operations and may have required some layoffs had it not been for the PPP Loans. While some companies had found new opportunities as the economy pivoted from services to products, Marla’s operations could not quickly realign their business model.
“But we’re back,” Marla reported to her Abel Personnel recruiter. “We were able to find new services for existing clients, enough to keep us in business. Now we are ready to return to the office, resuming our original offerings along with the new ones. Our immediate need is for a full-time receptionist; we had to let go of the one we employed as soon as we retreated to our homes.”
The recruiter was happy for Marla and her company and thrilled to have a client back who averaged 8 placements per year. However, the recruiter first needed to update Marla on the changes in recruiting that tracked the other shifts due to the pandemic and its aftermath.
“The last receptionist we placed with you was on an 8:00 to 5:00 schedule. Is that what you had in mind again? Is there any flexibility?” were the first questions the recruiter posed?
Marla’s surprise was palpable over the phone. “What do you mean by flexibility?” she inquired.
The recruiter then advised Marla that with so many employers offering hybrid working conditions, and the labor market still tight, there was an added challenge in finding someone who wanted to be in the office full time. “In fact, we are seeing fewer calls to replace laid-off receptionists, as most companies are seeing less foot traffic as more clients and vendors have discovered it is more efficient, and now more acceptable, to do most business over the phone or in a video conference,” the recruiter explained.
Marla paused and then started chuckling. “I had to rethink my whole business due to the pandemic; what made me think I wouldn’t need to rethink my whole business again post-pandemic?” she shared.
They briefly discussed how the receptionist position might be split between two people who could be half-time in the office and then half-time at home performing other administrative functions. The recruiter also related how one company had replaced the receptionist function with a video kiosk, as 80% of all arrivals really did not need to speak with a receptionist. Those that did need to interact with a person could do so on the video screen, much like the model many banks were now pursuing.
“Any good news in this new normal?” Marla wanted to know.
- Inflation pressure in wages was being somewhat offset by new employees willing to accept lower salaries on remote and hybrid positions due to cost savings from commuting (gas prices) plus not losing free time to daily travel.
- Those who chose early retirement rather than continue working in the pandemic environment are beginning to indicate an interest in returning full-time or at reduced hours. Many are seeking schedule flexibility to allow them to care for grandchildren. Their hiring is often with the understanding that they need to stay current on technology skills.
- Many companies are planning to call most employees back to the office after Labor Day; this may result in an opportunity for companies willing to offer openings for hybrid or at-home positions to benefit from the backlist those back-to-the-office mandates are expected to cause.
Finally, the recruiter was pleased to notify Marla that Abel Personnel had also evolved its offerings over the pandemic, with new recruiting services for accounting and IT professionals jobs.