In this blog we will be reflecting on the past 12 months and how it has affected us personally as a recruitment business in the architectural ironmongery sector, also the businesses supplying the sector and their employees, as well as job seekers. What was impact for businesses? What is the impact of furlough? What should we expect to happen next?
As we take a bold step hopefully out of the pandemic once and for all, with the most vulnerable people already fully vaccinated and a plan for everyone else to follow, we are feeling optimistic about putting the pandemic behind us. Hopefully, by the time the summer comes, we will be back on track to living a more ‘normal’ life again; meeting friends and family, and visiting pub beer gardens for a nice draught pint again or whatever your tipple.
The impact for businesses
The past 12 months nobody could ever have predicted. Looking back to March last year when we experienced the first UK lockdown there was so much confusion surrounding whether businesses needed to fully close or to what extent they could continue to operate under the new restrictions. Covid-19 has been inescapable for businesses and the construction sector was no different. Obviously, retail, travel, hospitality and the beauty sector were hit the hardest, and unfortunately still remain in the dark a year on. However, many manufacturing businesses supporting the construction sector, and indeed fenestration companies, as well as architectural ironmongers and builders merchants, closed their doors which impacted the sector as a whole.
Getting back to business
For most businesses in the ironmongery trade there was a period of adjustment and contemplation of how they can ‘get back to business’ or continue to trade at all, carefully meandering through the new restrictions, while keeping staff safe and protecting jobs by the use of the furlough scheme.
On the recruitment side of the fence SFR Recruitment Solutions were massively affected by the first lockdown, with businesses closing and operating on skeleton staff, and furloughing staff there wasn’t much need for recruitment, in fact many plans to recruit were instantly put on the backburner. All we could do was support our clients and candidates the best we could during the pandemic, and let them know we are here if they needed us.
Business as normal
Many construction projects remained open during the first lockdown and were hit with a shortage of supply of materials which triggered construction product manufacturers and trade suppliers to plan how they could remain open. With limited staff onsite, trade counters open for collection only and deliveries direct-to-site, businesses in the trade soon realised that it was possible to operate.
The impact of furlough
Perhaps we all agree that the furlough scheme is one of the best things the Government has offered UK businesses. Many businesses used the furlough scheme to protect their themselves from the sharp decline in sales and counterbalancing with lower salary bills, reduced entertainment and travel costs.
It wasn’t plain sailing, however, as none of us knew how long the pandemic would continue for and when the furlough scheme would end. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Budget on 3 March 2021 that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), also known as the furlough scheme, will be extended for a further five months until 30 September 2021.
This is great news for businesses still needing to use the furlough scheme to protect jobs and support their businesses, however the peak of unemployment is ahead rather than behind us which is an unsettling thought.
Embracing change and hiring accordingly
At the moment getting people back to work is the priority and not recruitment for most companies. However, there needs to be a longer-term view of how businesses plan to pick-up where they left off. The pandemic has fast-tracked digitalisation and we must plan to embrace this change and hire accordingly. For example, more people are buying online than ever before, cancelled holidays has led to a massive surge in the home improvement and DIY market. The majority of businesses supplying this trade have already seen a fruitful comeback.
How can companies best plan for the new skills they need to support growing demand and bring in-house any skills they have found themselves outsourcing during the pandemic such as assistance with online trading and marketing. For many businesses they may find that there has been a shift in the required skillsets post-pandemic, and find themselves requiring assistance with recruitment. Businesses may also be considering whether external roles can become internal or perhaps homebased permanently. Companies who feel they would benefit from some recruitment advice should get in touch with us, or check out some of our useful blogs on our website.
Keeping skills fresh
The furlough scheme has given many companies and their employees the opportunity to train and gain new skills. Providing staff with training whilst on furlough is a great way to enhance their skills without the pressure of their usual workload distracting from their studies. Companies should consider how they can take advantage of any new skills when bringing employees back from furlough.
The Guild of Architectural Ironmongery have seen an increase in the number of people taking online courses and diplomas with the GAI. SFR Recruitment Solutions are partners of the GAI and proud to support other members with their recruitment needs, as well as assisting students with finding their next career move.
The employees’ / candidates’ perspective
Time to think and reflect while on furlough, or working part time hours or whatever the situation employees have found themselves in: volunteering, embarking on self-employment, retraining or otherwise, employees may feel they do not want to return to their current job. For some the pandemic has brought about a need for career change, a desire to work remotely permanently, or newly acquired skills means they are now searching for a new role. SFR can support candidates in whatever change they wish to make within the ironmongery, hardware and access control sector.
We have noticed that the number of sales and marketing positions has increased and are now at pre-covid levels. There are lots of vacancies for internal sales executives and business development managers. Anyone considering a new role should check out our vacancies on our website at www.sfrrecruitment.co.uk.
Supporting candidates looking for work
We predict there is going to be a period of ‘displacement’ where employees decide to move on after furlough or unfortunately find that there is no longer a job for them. It is likely that roles alter as businesses realise the full extent of change the pandemic has brought. SFR are best placed to support candidates with their job search, we also offer help with CV writing, interview tips and preparation for video interviews. See some of our useful blogs below:
Let’s climb out of the pandemic together
Now is the perfect time to be optimistic about reaching the end of the pandemic and putting it all behind us! If we can get through this, we really can get through anything! Let’s take our fresh perspective and get our business plans firmly back on track to take full advantage of the continuingly buoyant construction and home improvement market.
Here at SFR Recruitment Solutions, we are employment specialists for the Architectural Ironmongery, Doors, Access Control and Window & Door Hardware industries.
Companies looking to recruit for new roles, or candidates planning their next career move, should get in touch with us at SFR, we would be delighted to help. We can be reached here by email email@example.com or mobile 07512 602431.