A company is only as good as the people it keeps and they will ultimately determine its success. In my mind, that makes recruitment the single most important business decision you will ever make and yet I regularly see firms leaving the entire process down to human interpretation.

As an interviewer, your goal is to match the candidate’s ambition, personality, and experience to the requirements of the job and business. The key is being able to tell the great people from the great talkers.

Every interviewer goes into a meeting with the best intentions, hoping to find the ideal person, but, in my experience, the most common mistakes are made when there is a lack of structure and consistency in the process.

One way to avoid this is to plan interviews so all candidates receive the same questions. Eliminating the likelihood of the conversation straying too far from the agenda is a proven way to increase reliability and compare candidates evenly. This will help you to be more accurate in your prediction of future job success.

When interviewing, the best candidates will be well prepared and trying to make a good impression. With their guard up, it’s your job to get under their skin and find out what they’re like.

Build a strong rapport from the start. If candidates trust you, they’ll relax and that will make it easier for you to dig into the detail of their answers and flow into topics they haven’t previously rehearsed.

This not only helps you to get a feel for their communication skills, but it uncovers potentially unseen aspects of their personality and behaviour, which is crucial to making sure they are the right fit for your business.

Try opening with a request for their personal and professional goals; and how they see the role fitting in with these.

Ask them to tell you about a situation that has brought out the best in them; giving examples and sharing the experience they feel makes them ideal for your company. Other behavioural questions could be: What attracted you to this role? What are your motivations? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Whatever you opt for, make sure you ask for details within the answers, as this is the best way to separate people who like to embellish the truth. Liars don’t like to get into specifics as they know they are more likely to get caught out. People telling the truth will be happy to drill deep as they are answering the questions honestly.

Once you’re happy that someone can do the job, move into uncharted waters. Ask about any mistakes they’ve made. This is a great test of self-awareness and will show the scope of which someone is willing to take ownership of their actions; and whether they learn from their errors.

I like to ask who the smartest person they know is (and why). By getting people to explain this you’ll not only find out about their networks, but also the values and personality traits they aspire towards.

Find out what it is that gets them out of bed on a weekend. People’s passions outside of work are critical to fitting in well to any team environment.

Are they entrepreneurial? Examples of innovative ideas they’ve put into practice will help you measure whether they’re a self-starter, commercially-minded, or have a healthy attitude towards calculated risk.

Of course, these are just a few examples to try and help you, but whatever you discuss, don’t forget that interviews are a chance to find out more for both parties. While you aim to work out what makes someone tick, they will most likely be doing the same to you, so make sure you give a good impression of your business.

It’s no coincidence that the most successful companies have strong brand equity and an abundance of great people.
Almost always the result of long-term planning, careful and consistent reputation management, and excellent communication, if you flip this on its head, there is a lot that people climbing the career ladder can learn from the way top brands gain trust and stand out from the crowd.

If you are career ambitious, creating a personal brand that supports your work goals should be part of your development.

Social media offers the best platform to raise your profile and, if you are committed and consistent in your approach, communities like LinkedIn can amplify your voice, build your network, and have a big impact on the way people perceive you.

In a candidate-led job market, it is too easy to lose sight of the importance of this. Skilled people looking for a new challenge are in the driving seat right now. In certain sectors, they have the pick of jobs and can almost be forgiven for getting carried away, but the status quo won’t remain this way forever.

When it comes to looking for your next challenge, if you want to stay respected in your industry, then the key is to remember your long-term goals throughout the recruitment process. To help you navigate this with your reputation intact, here are some things to keep in mind:

Constantly communicate

There is nothing more unsettling than not knowing what is happening during the recruitment process. Even after receiving an offer, if you need time to decide, make sure you keep people updated with your thinking. Silence is deafening. It never leaves a positive impression, regardless of the outcome.

Be decisive

A couple of days to reflect on a job offer is perfectly acceptable but, whatever you do, make a decision. You would be surprised at how many people struggle with this but, if the job is right, you should know fairly quickly whether you want it or not.

Plan for success

You don’t have to take the first job you are offered but, if you are exploring several options, try to organise interviews as close together as possible so, if you get multiple offers, you can manage the decision-making process promptly.

Don’t play games

Avoid playing companies off against each other at all costs. In recruitment, honesty is always the best policy, even if you have two offers or want to attend another interview before committing to a new role. People will understand and respect that, but not if you treat recruitment like a game.

Be responsive

The speed you react with shows a prospective employer how interested you are and also how you are likely to act with their clients and the tasks they set.

Don’t be greedy

Negotiation is part of the process but there is a limit before it turns an employer off. If you want a job but are uncomfortable with the terms, discuss them at the earliest opportunity and be clear about why. I’ve seen many offers withdrawn when an employer doesn’t appreciate the way a negotiation was handled and you risk appearing like money is your only motivation.

In all of this, the important thing to remember is that, whilst good people are in demand, employers want them to be the right people, so you still need to impress from start to finish.

It also helps to remember that the market you are working in is probably smaller than you think, especially in the North East, where people often talk.

How you behave and engage with a prospective employer during the recruitment process and, perhaps more critically, during an offer, is crucial to maintaining your reputation. It reveals a lot about your integrity and character and will leave a lasting impression, so make sure it’s a good one.

In the wake of eighteen difficult months for the recruitment industry, the beginning of the summer saw the market pick up.

Improving business confidence led to a steadily increasing flow of proactive businesses looking for new and permanent recruits.

Due in part to the changing circumstances and priorities for many people, we saw an immediate flurry of market movement, encouraging the positive momentum to endure; so much so that recruitment activity in June was reported to be at an all-time high.

Now, as the final restrictions of the pandemic are removed, there is little sign this newly found aspiration to grow will slow down any time soon, despite candidate availability declining sharply in each of the last four months to reach an all-time low.

Right now, this is the only thing holding businesses back and, as recruiters, we are seeing some worrying signs ahead as the battle for the best talent heats up.

So, what is the answer?

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to a familiar situation. What is clear, however, is that if we want to ensure the economy continues to grow, businesses, the government, and education providers need to be willing to reassess their plans and get behind the creation of a culture that supports training, reskilling, and upskilling of furloughed and prospective workers.

To put this high on the agenda – especially in the long term – better communication between industry and academia is fundamental. The Government, universities and colleges must co-operate with businesses to identify key areas where skilled workers are in short supply.

Positive steps have been made in this regard, with initiatives like Quickstart helping to build bridges, but this alone is not enough. We must take a collective approach if we want to ensure the status quo between candidates and vacancies is healthily balanced.

From the perspective of an employer

Flexibility is going to be important in the coming months and, as we adapted to home working, it is not inconceivable that we could adjust our mindset to see the recruitment of someone who has 75% of the skills you need as a good idea. In many cases, it may even be quicker to train people in the final 25% than to hold out for the perfect person.

Bringing in recruits straight from school, college, or university is another option. While it may not address your needs today, developing the right skill sets within your business will pay off, particularly if you encourage diversity in their experience by rotating people throughout different business departments.

For example, in an accountancy practice, rather than a graduate spending three years training in only audit or tax, why not offer them a programme of six-month secondments across all disciplines so, by the end of their training, they have had a much better exposure of the business and, probably, developed a clearer idea of what it is they enjoy.

In tight job markets, working with recruiters to position your business as a brand of choice is also important. I would say this but, with social media, people have access to many different channels of communication and the way your company is portrayed and how an opportunity is sold to them is crucial.

To be successful, you need to demonstrate what it is that makes you stand out, and that also goes for pre-planning ways to get your company culture across when the interview is via a video link.

The final word

If you take one piece of advice from this article to help with an upcoming piece of recruitment, please make it to act fast.

Taking positive and swift action is the key right now because I can assure you that talented people will get job offers quickly.

If you find the right person be prepared to act as, if they are truly at the top of their game, it won’t be long before one of your competitors snaps them up if you don’t

Permanent recruitment is rising at a record rate according to the latest KPMG and Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) survey.

As pandemic restrictions ease and more industries reopen, there is a mounting belief that the economy will bounce back quickly and that means optimistic businesses are shifting their mindset from consolidation and preservation to target growth.

The survey – compiled from the responses of around 400 UK recruitment agencies, of which I am one – showed that, in May and June, demand for new workers increased at the fastest rate in 23 years.

Record demand

The upturn followed an increase in April, at which time we were unsure if employers were simply recruiting to catch up from the previous 12 months of low activity or we could see new momentum building in the market.

Two months on and the improvement shows no signs of slowing down with, rather pleasingly, the North of England leading the way nationally and boasting the steepest increase in permanent appointments in IT, Computing, and the Hospitality sector. The accountancy market is also one of the busiest I have seen in the last twenty years.

Low availability

Here comes the ‘but’. While demand for good people is at an all-time high, their availability is at an all-time low. Mapped over the same timeframe, the number of workers looking for a new job dropped at the quickest rate for four years. Seeing the same pattern across a myriad of industries, the decline is linked to the furlough of staff, fewer EU candidates, and, of course, uncertainty following the pandemic.

Increased starting salaries

In a candidate-driven market, mixed with a refreshing air of private-sector business confidence, supply is outstripping demand and that means starting salaries are inevitably on the up.

In the North East, for now, they are just about holding up, but we have seen some outrageous salaries offered elsewhere in the country. Taking a London-based job but working from home (anywhere in the UK) can lead to astronomical increases for some, although I believe many national companies are working to address how they regionalise salaries when they have a remote workforce.

The challenge for recruitment

The challenge as a recruiter and an employer is to keep up with demand and always attract the right talent. Staff availability has declined immeasurably, and in part, because those willing to risk moving in the pandemic have already done so earlier in the year.

Positively in our region, I know there are a lot of people who are what I would call ‘window shopping’ right now. They are waiting in the wings and keeping an eye out for something special that grabs their attention.

There is no doubt that the flexibility to work from home and attend the office on their terms is playing a big part in decision making. As is having the flexibility to shape their hours so they can continue with the lifestyle they have built throughout COVID.

How can recruitment help?

By no means the hero, but the recruitment industry has continued to play a role in helping to keep vital services running smoothly throughout the pandemic. Now, it is playing a part in helping displaced workers find new jobs, and supporting companies as they adapt working patterns and prepare for the easing of restrictions.

This is why I couldn’t agree more with the deputy CEO of the REC, Kate Shoesmith’s, assessment of how businesses, recruiters and government need to work together to address the skills gap before it slows down our recovery.

The trends are worrying and we need to urgently address the skills gap together, supporting people to train, reskill and upskill so they can progress their careers and move into new roles.

According to Gallup, the number of people working full-time who are highly engaged and enthusiastic about their work is 15%. Pulling data from 155 countries, their 2017 research reveals a huge obstacle to creating high-performing teams while, at the same time, presenting an enormous opportunity due to the top 25% of companies also being 17% more productive and 21% more profitable.

And then along came COVID.

Bringing with it one of the greatest economic challenges of our time, the pandemic flipped the world on its head. It forced businesses to change overnight, to re-evaluate how they work and, in many cases, what they stand for.
When you think about it, it is all very sobering but, from my perspective, the big positive to come out of the chaos is that the importance of company culture as a key to long-term success is firmly back in the spotlight.

The culture of a business defines the working environment for employees and helps to guide their decision-making. It is the personality of an organisation and, regardless of the corporate values you have written down, is made up of the most commonly shared beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours in your team.

As we all look forward to the return of business growth, I urge you to take inspiration from many of the world’s most successful companies when recruiting and explore the merits of value-based interviews as part of your process.

While competency to do the job is still important, being able to understand a person’s motivation is the only way you can hope to determine whether they will fit well within a team and go on to thrive.

During the interview process, you must provide an opportunity for candidates to showcase their character. If done well, this will help you to understand whether their priorities match your goals and what it is that drives their behaviour.

Your mission is to find the perfect person, but the best candidates will always be well prepared and ready to make a good impression. With their guard up, it is your job to get under their skin. If people trust you, they will relax and make it easier for the conversation to flow into topics they have not rehearsed.

For many years, Timpson – the shoe repair business – has recruited entirely on personality. Priding themselves on great service, the outcome of an interview is the direct result of the cultural match of the Mr Men character your personality most resembles. It may sound crazy, but they live by this rule, meaning you can turn up with the best CV in the world but if they think your ‘Mr Grumpy’, your journey will end there.

While Mr Men may not be right for you, uncovering unseen aspects of people’s personality and behaviour during an interview is crucial to making the right choice, so try opening with a request for their personal and professional goals; and how they see the role fitting in with these.

Ask them to tell you about a situation that has brought out the best in them; giving examples of why they feel that makes them ideal for your company.

I like to find out who the smartest person they know is (and why). By getting people to explain this you will not only find out about their networks, but also the values and personality traits they aspire towards.

These are just examples. You will need to develop a series of questions that match your specific values but, whatever you end up with, try to remember that every interview is also a chance to find out more for both parties.

While you aim to work out what makes someone tick, they will most likely be doing the same to you, so make sure you do not forget to give a good impression of your business and the way it operates.

Even before the pandemic, the typical Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm working pattern had become outdated.

Advances in technology have long supported an always-on culture, with the pursuit of “work-life balance” replaced, for many, by a “work-life integration” revolving around 24-7 access to emails and notifications on your phone or tablet.

Fast-forward (if only we could have!) through fourteen months of lockdown, furlough and working from home. Our adoption of productivity apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams has accelerated to the point where some people have gone as far as to hail this as the death for the office.

Sure, the workplace needs to change because, to some extent, we have all changed but, even after the biggest employment experiment of all time demonstrated that remote working works, we need to think carefully about whether it is the permanent solution.

On the face of it, it appears to be the ideal scenario. Losing office costs and overheads will make huge financial savings after what has been a very challenging time.

Staff have also revelled in an extra hour in bed instead of suffering the daily commute and the opportunity to spend more time with family is not something people want to give up easily.

Despite this, I suggest that business leaders considering their next step approach it with caution. Try to remember that most people have a fundamental desire to be part of a community, as it is the lack of being able to create and sustain a positive company culture remotely that worries me most.

While a virtual culture undoubtedly has benefits – flexibility, trust, increased autonomy – the reason many companies were able to transition seamlessly to a remote working model was that their teams already had a sense of comradery.

They had been in close proximity with one another for a reasonable period before having to work from home and the resulting bond – and shared values – helped to make it a success.

Now, after a year of working apart, research from Gallup suggests that employees are 7% less likely to see their connection to the company’s mission than at the start of COVID. This means that the cultural connection is slowly diminishing and, ultimately, that means productivity will soon follow.

As business leaders ponder how they are going to reinvent the way we work, the challenge they have is to come up with a flexible model that works for us all. It can no longer be about offering a one-size-fits-all solution.

We need to discover a way to get back to work, but not in the way it used to be. We need to be better at being accommodating people’s needs because working from home has shone a bright light on the benefits of being in a comfortable environment and this is something the office will need to reflect; to offer employees the best of both worlds.

As well as the culture, many benefits will also come from being back together, not least creativity and innovation, which undoubtedly increase when people exchange ideas and collaborate. Even an overheard conversation can spark a moment of ingenuity; something that simply would not occur virtually.

In summary, whatever happens, I hope businesses don’t make quick decisions and they allow their teams the opportunity to help them shape when and how people go back into the office.

As social creatures, we all crave connections and while helping to build a strong culture, perhaps the office will also be redefined as a place constructed purely for interaction, where people go once or twice a week to meet and brainstorm ideas.

By allowing people the flexibility and trust to have control of the way they work, as much as possible, whatever the outcome, you stand to gain the benefits of both ways of working, as well as demonstrating understanding and empathy for your team – something the value of which should never be underestimated.

Right now, the accountancy job market is active. It’s moving fast, employers know the skills they want, and those in search of a new role have – in the main – made up their mind to move quickly.

It sounds idyllic; and you’d be forgiven for thinking it is easy to find the right hire but, with high demand for niche skills, it is only those who are adaptable and can move quickly that are thriving.

Increased competition for talented people, by its nature, puts job seekers in the driving seat. If someone with the right skill set becomes available, they can very quickly have several opportunities to consider and, for a recruiting firm, this creates a problem.

Delayed decision-making, the need to seek authorisation, or a lack of time devoted to moving the stages of recruitment forward means you are highly likely to miss out on the best people. They won’t wait to see what ‘might’ happen.

If you want your recruitment to be more successful, you need to ensure your processes are robust and fit for today’s purpose:

Plan ahead

Avoid reactionary recruitment wherever possible by future planning. For example, in 2020, we understandably saw a reduction in trainee recruitment. Fast-forward three years and you can expect to see a black hole in the number of qualified accountants available. It pays to keep a constant eye on the market and to regularly review staffing risks against your business goals. I’d suggest starting by mapping out your team and their skills versus your needs now and in the medium-term. You’ll soon be able to build a plan that gets you ahead of the game.

Adapt your style

Different situations call for different approaches, so make sure your methods stay fit for purpose. Simply offering video interviews in a pandemic isn’t enough. You need to modify the way you build a rapport and demonstrate the culture of your business. Have you adapted the job specification to reflect home-working? How do you plan to induct new employees and integrate them into your team without the opportunity to meet people face-to-face? These are questions that need to be answered before you start recruiting and employers doing this will reap the benefits.

Communicate clearly

A regular flow of clear and honest information is crucial to building trust. Show respect to each applicant by keeping them up-to-date with timings and progress and providing useful feedback. Every communication counts as you are effectively demonstrating the level of care your organisation has for its staff. Communicate consistently throughout the process and – regardless of the outcome – you will create positive advocates for your business.

Remember it is a partnership

People become valuable and loyal to a company because they’ve developed a mutually beneficial alliance. Whether the motivation is future progression, support with study or an increased salary, if you’re helping employees to fulfil their career dreams they will work hard for you to achieve yours and, over time, you will build a reputation as a highly attractive place for aspirational and talented people to work.

Act quickly

In a candidate-led market, you need to be decisive. Good people will vanish as quickly as they appear, so make sure it’s to join you. There’s nothing more disengaging than attending an interview, being impressed and then not hearing back for days. If you like someone, tell them before someone else does.

When times change, the way you recruit needs to change but, ultimately, good recruitment comes down to being prepared, proactive and treating people the right way.

Being fleet of foot is very important right now, but you must also remain honest and genuine in your attempts to help people achieve their ambitions in tandem with reaching your goals. That’s how you can truly build a trusting relationship, as well as a reputation as a great employer and place to work.

Remote working started for many as a way to get through the pandemic. It has fast developed into an expected benefit and, for some, become a necessary lifestyle change.

With any switch in working practice, to be successful you must adapt and, with new rules of engagement, managers and leaders have been forced to reassess their style. Trust in people and flexibility has come to the fore, with different protocols and technology put in place to improve operational efficiencies.

Positively, some companies have thrived amongst the chaos, remaining busy and continuing to grow their teams. At the same time, however, redundancies have been widespread, with others spending long periods of uncertainty furloughed and away from their colleagues.

Whatever your scenario, one certain thing is that everything needs to be re-examined, including the way we recruit and, particularly, how we welcome new people into our business.

When managed in the right way, virtual recruitment has the potential to become a very powerful tool. Coupled with the opportunity to work from home, it offers unique opportunities to widen the talent pool and, with geography no longer a barrier, could also give companies the chance to tackle gaps in diversity.

Whether in race, ethnicity, age, or parental status, a comprehensive remote recruitment plan will give you the capability to attract people you simply could not find before.

When hiring from afar, one thing to note is that your timeline may extend beyond the norm. Put simply, it takes longer to get to know someone online, but the need for more time does not mean you should ever succumb to the pressure to compromise.

Start your planning by mapping out a new series of interview stages, putting in place realistic timelines. This may include a stage focused purely on technical competency, dedicated to culture fit, or even a call with some of the prospective new team. Whatever you choose, throughout the process you should also test each person on their use of multiple communication platforms, so you know they are au fait with technology, as this is critical to a remote role.

Making job advertisements more specific is now also important. Too often adverts are written to appeal to everyone and, while vague may sometimes work, you need to be thorough and engaging. If home-working is preferred, share your expectations and show your flexibility.

Softer skills – self-motivation, decisiveness, communication, and time management – are critical, so define a string of interview questions that will dive deeper into these areas.

When you find the right person, my advice would be to begin onboarding straight away. The most difficult aspect for anyone working remotely is to indoctrinate themselves in the company culture. Make sure you provide information about this, the team they are joining, and projects they will be working on.

Preparation is key to making people feel welcome, so test their IT systems ahead of time. Consider giving them access leading up to their start date, this will not only iron out any problems but also help them to get used to the technology.

Once they have begun, make sure you check-in regularly, letting them know exactly what is expected from them each day, as well as sharing who it is they need to ask if they require support, or have any questions.

Encourage video calls with their new colleagues, organise virtual coffee breaks for the team to learn a bit more about each other, maybe even offer them a ‘buddy’ from your team to mentor them in the early days.

With more than two-thirds of people now favouring some form of remote working, while it doesn’t require big changes, it does require a shift in mindset. Given everything that is going on right now, if you want to recruit and retain the best people, then moving with the times is a necessity.

After more than 20 years providing advice and support to accountancy professionals, I am all too aware of the negative reputation the recruitment industry often endures.

Of course, there are some very bad recruiters out there – including those who blindly fire out CV’s in the hope that something will resonate with someone somewhere – but the truth is that the majority of recruiters work extremely hard, act incredibly professionally, and are genuinely trying to help people make a positive change.

For the entire sector to be tarred with the same brush makes absolutely no sense. It’s just not the way business works, especially in a service-based environment which relies upon the skills and performance of people.

If you’re working with a recruitment consultant, or have been thinking about approaching one to help you find a new role, here is a list of the qualities you should expect to find as a bare minimum:

Honesty and Transparency
A healthy working relationship must be fair, ethical and transparent. In recruitment, this not only applies to the current state of the market and whether your expectations can be met, but also to who it is that will be directly representing you and working on your behalf.

Sector Expertise
A specialist recruiter will be capable of talking comfortably with you about your current role regardless of seniority, offering advice on your next move and job prospects. As a leading authority in the market, they’ll be highly networked, knowledgeable about the latest trends and job movements and, because they work regularly with the best companies, will be able to give you an immediate advantage through their connections.

Impartial and Unbiased
Recognising the importance of diversity in successful teams, a good recruiter will work with you to make sure you find a company that not only matches your aspirations but has a culture that aligns with your values.

Respect
This means for confidentiality, privacy, and also for you and your timescales. A consummate professional, rather than focusing on what works best for them, your recruiter will work with you to find the best opportunity possible.

Excellent Communication
Looking for a new job is time-consuming and can be stressful. It is a big decision which requires serious thought and consideration, especially in a market where talent is in high demand. Regular and clear contact throughout the recruitment process is critical. As well as keeping you up to date, you should also feel that your recruitment consultant is listening carefully to you so that they understand your needs and can react quickly and appropriately when required.

Helpful and Supportive
Flexible in their approach and happy to offer educated opinion or thoughts on salary advice, your consultant will support you all through the recruitment journey – and beyond. By investing time in building a strong relationship before they begin their search, they will not only understand your needs in-depth but also be able to find you the perfect opportunities.

I often ask myself what it is that people expect when they ask for help from a recruitment consultant and, as well as being excellent at what they do, at the top of the list is honesty, integrity, and a positive, helpful manner.

In my experience, when you are working with a recruiter, they will be motivated by one of two things: hitting targets or helping people. While no one works for free, a good advisor is someone who wants to find the best outcome for you.

Placing the right people in the right place is their motivation, and there are a lot of us around so please don’t be afraid to be selective, and don’t ever settle for less.

At the start of 2020, the number of people working in the UK reached a record high of just over 32.5 million.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, 1 million businesses have taken advantage of the Government’s furlough scheme, leading to 9.3 million people being told that their job is reliant upon salary support until a solution can be found. That is more than one in every four people.

As the furlough scheme phases out, it feels as though we are standing on the edge of a precipice. The employment market is facing a crisis unlike any we have seen in a very long time.

If not already, businesses will soon be forced to make some very difficult decisions as they begin to plan and rebuild for the future. There will be tough times ahead for many, and it is going to be critical that you strike the right balance between consolidation and aspiration to succeed.

As a recruiter, it pains me to talk about job cuts, but with a swift ‘V’ shaped economic bounce-back unlikely, the first question that needs to be asked is whether or not you can you manage with fewer people in your team?

Contrary to this – and on a more positive note – there may also be new areas of specialism for your business, or skills and training you lack but now need to drive things forward.

Equally as important is making sure that your team emerges from lockdown as motivated and committed as ever. If they have been furloughed, do you know how do they feel about returning to work? If they worked throughout the epidemic, do they need time off to recharge their batteries before they go again?

Whatever their situation, the last few months will have been difficult for different people in different ways. As a leader and manager, make sure you take time to reflect on their behaviour at an individual level. It will teach you an awful lot about their character, and knowing who you can count on in a crisis is a hugely important lesson to learn.

As time goes by and feeling safe enough to come into work becomes less of an obstacle, the biggest question is going to be around new models of working.

Their looks set to be a huge uplift in demand for flexible and home working. It has been increasingly popular during the last few years, but now seems to be an expected norm for many people. Can you accommodate these new demands in your business, and do you even know what people would prefer to do going forward?

I suggest counselling opinion. What flexibility do staff want or need and, if they are going to work from home permanently, do they have the right equipment and space to do this? There may be new health and safety aspects to consider.

You may also need to adjust to a new way of recruiting. Changing needs, coupled with higher unemployment, and softer skills becoming an essential requirement for the majority of roles (i.e. communication and self-motivation), means it may be time to review your strategy. Not to mention adopt new technologies to video interview and conduct virtual onboarding.

All in all, I think it is fair to say that 2020 has been a pretty dreadful year, to the point where it has forced almost every business in the world to adapt and change the way they operate.

Whether you believe this is a temporary disruption or will lead to permanent change, we need to face the challenge head-on and, hopefully, if we can ask ourselves the right questions and surround ourselves with the right people, we can start to plan our recovery without delay.