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New Year, New Me? Has the New Year staff churn been ended by COVID-19?

For years now, businesses across the world can set their yearly staffing watch by two things: a December slow down (unless you’re in hospitality), followed by a massive January rush of advertised jobs, new opportunity, and employee turnover, or “churn”.


It’s so expected that HR teams up and down the country prepare for it in advance, knowing full well the new year represents both a reopening of business and a less tangible, but equally as important, candidate-driven process: with the new year comes change, new opportunities and a new future.


Reading the eb and flow of the market is a recruiter’s job, but with the rise of COVID-19, what will employee churn look like in future new year periods? Is this year any different from others, and if so, what sort of changes are coming into play and do employers need to change how they hire, retain and retrain their staff?


New Year, Old Jobs


Pre-pandemic, the studies were clear: the busiest days to post jobs, apply for jobs, and hire staff, was a Tuesday, and the busiest months of the year to hire were February and March, followed by May, June, October and November.


But COVID-19 has made huge changes not only to workplaces, but to candidate expectations of turnover and when to move jobs.


The pandemic has shown that remote working, disparate teams, flexible workforces and digitalization of service are more than capable of supporting and growing a business; hiring rhythms have been disrupted as industries battled to retain, furlough, retrain or remove staff.


Firms across the industrial and commercial spectrum are coming to terms with our new normal: a hybrid digital/physical working arrangement, with a modern appreciation of new skills and requirements needed to maintain them.


In essence, this could mean the end of what’s considered “traditional” hiring rhythms, but long-term changes are hard to predict, especially when the industries driving these changes – Tech, IT, Cloud Computing – are so fast moving and revolutionary.


So what’s next for recruitment?


Recruitment can be, in some cases, infuriatingly slow, and speed of service, or lack of, can be a major setback to traditional HR teams.


With a much more agile and online workforce, not to mention the increase in expectation of digitally approving new hires, recruitment is now free to adjust how it does business: in fact, it has to be ahead of the changes.


      Rapid digitization and accessibility mean the hiring process can be done online faster, with no travel stress or costs, and very little effort to organize.


      Undoubtedly, we’ll see a blended version of talent sourcing online and in person, yet it remains to be seen whether or not this affects when people look for jobs – however, the signs seem to point to much more fluid, quicker hiring processes with no calendar bottlenecks, focused more around specific industry requirement. Agility is key!


COVID-19 and your Job


Job security has been put under the microscope – COVID-19 has pushed many incredibly talented people into the job market for the first time in years, while the number of passive job seekers and active job seekers has remained high. Churn, then, should be high.


Except the pressure on our industries has not been felt equally – the loss of investment and ongoing issues with customer and people-orientated industries like tourism, the hotel and accommodation and supply chain sectors have meant the effects of joblessness and the threat of redundancy have been unfairly borne by staff in those sectors.


We can summarize 2020 simply by saying those who changed jobs, reduced hours, or were made redundant did not plan to, and those who retained jobs mostly stayed put, riding out the wave of change and, with one eye on 2021 and the pandemic outcome, delayed seeking change.


2021 and post-COVID churn


So will 2021 see a return to normal candidate churn, or will there be a larger proportion of shifting staff?


      Latent churn: Some say with the dual pressures of re-evaluation of career paths, and the redistribution of talent, for instance the huge swatches of staff moving away from places like the San Francisco Bay to the suburbs of Austin, 2021 will be a year of immense and consistent candidate churn.


      Retraining: Companies who excel in retraining, or recruitment agencies who focus on the soft skills and reskilling necessary to move and motivate whole swathes of professionals, will step in and play a vital part in empowering and directing any candidate churn. But, rather than focus on traditional rhythms of recruitment, the new hybrid workplace will require a much more focused, agile system of working to need and requirement, no matter the time or date.


      Remember the basics: For employers, it’s worth remembering that COVID-19 has exacerbated existing issues within many industries, from unsustainable growth to a lack of cash reserve or the inability to scale: the main issue at the heart of why staff look for new opportunities has not changed. Many are balanced between fair remuneration and a sense of value, community, and purpose. COVID-19 has made some of these issues much more apparent, and it’s wise to address them as quickly as possible to hold onto business-critical talent.


COVID-19 has made an indelible mark on so many businesses, but you can still build a desirable, appealing market leading company people want to work at and avoid the worst of whatever post-COVID churn we go through!


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