Over the last few weeks I’ve had many conversations with founders, hiring managers and internal recruiters.
Initially my intention was to review how organisations are planning to weather this next phase of Covid19.
As the shock of working from home has settled for most, it seems we are heading out of the first reactive period to the pandemic, and so I was curious to delve into the effect this will have on hiring for the future.
However, it became clear very quickly that long-term planning is very difficult to do in such highly uncertain times.
For the people I spoke to, the main concern shared was around culture. Common questions included:
- How do we keep our teams intact?
- How can we support and motivate our people?
- How far do we have to think outside the box to make this possible?
I would love to whittle on, but I appreciate we’re all trying to limit our time on screens so here’s a hot fire list of my findings:
1. Agility and flexibility is key
We can replan and budget, but as Celia Trevisani (Head of Marketing, NAOS) stated: “nothing is ever set”. Being part of a global skincare organisation who produced hand sanitizer in the wake of the crisis, their operation in Australia is in the exciting start up phase.
They have been building their team throughout this period with skilled hires who can really hit the ground running.
It was amazing to hear that despite having barely had the chance to spend physical office time together, they have come out stronger with increased efforts to connect virtually with video ‘out of work’ catch ups.
2. Upskill and innovate
Robbie (Senior Campaign Manager for equity funding platform Birchal) agreed we were heading out of a reactionary phase and it was vital to “learn from the past” to make smart business decisions moving forward.
If your company isn’t responding to what the new ‘need’ is, then another business definitely is.
And now is the time to see real innovation. The speed at which companies have managed to respond to the crisis provides an excellent example of just how quickly we can hit ‘go’ on future organisational changes.
For the graduates out there, Robbie’s advice was that now is the perfect time to upskill, especially if joining a start-up is the ultimate aim – the more ways you can get stuck in, the better!
3. It’s the small things
It was a small cost for the international FinTech business, GoCardless to send out personalised leisurewear (part of their tailored survival kits) to their clients and care packages across the team but essentially priceless to keep the global offices connected as Joseph Robins (Account Executive, GoCardless) explained.
It will be important as we come out of this for employees take note of how the company tone was communicated and how that translated to make teams feel appreciated.
With really clear and strong held company values, Joe made the point that those need to be embodied with every business decision and if we can come out of this saying “we kept the culture… then we did the right thing”.
4. Rethink traditional methods
It’s been a particularly exciting growth stage for Al Bentley and his Sydney based team Simply Wall St.
The pandemic came at a time when Al was accelerating his hiring strategy and was able to easily move the process online, starting with a 10 hour technical task.
Al has also found huge success with video interviewing software to bring that personal touch.
And as their team continues to grow in these virtual conditions, there is the increasing concern to maintain a real team environment and Al confessed it’s made them more proactive to enjoy online activities together like remote cooking classes and online gaming together.
And on that note – Al’s key piece of advice for any graduate out there is LEARN TO CODE (if it interests you of course).
5. Final musings
A theme that has prevailed throughout was impermanence: the state of things only lasting for a limited time.
Before landing in Australia this year, I was fortunate to take a slight detour and spend a wholesome meditation and yoga retreat with my family (bear with me) – including my Dad who has been practicing Buddhist values for the last few years.
With no Netflix or phones, we had lengthy discussions on the world and its whereabouts with a huge emphasis on my Dad’s favourite topic of impermanence.
It has certainly provided a comforting fundamental idea to return to whilst navigating through these past few months and found its way to the front of my mind when discussing ‘what next’.
Long and short – we don’t know what’s next (if you do, please get in touch), but what is becoming clearer is that the companies that will come out on top are those that truly know the foundations they are built on.
Management have taken the time to look inwards, reassessed, and remeasured processes, recognising which areas need to be leaner and where new technology could be introduced.
I am looking forward to catching up with everyone in a month, and the month after that, and the month after that because I have no doubt we will be telling a different story each time.
Keep going, keep pushing and learning – now’s the time to achieve.
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