The UK is facing a deep recession. With almost 750,000 jobs lost since lockdown and the furlough scheme set to close in October, recruitment firms find themselves at the heart of a jobs crisis and must seek quick ways to save if they are going to weather the worst of what is to come.
IT was the hero of the transition to remote working and has been fundamental in keeping operations ticking along. With many recruitment consultants now facing a damaged jobs market, they will be looking to cut costs and eliminate inefficiencies in any way possible. Before taking drastic action, it’s vital to consider how IT can streamline operations and boost productivity quickly and cheaply. Here’s what tech can do:
Review your cloud
Data by IT asset management firm, Snow Software, shows that 82% of firms increased their cloud usage during the pandemic. Most recruitment firms will be using cloud-based platforms and software already, but, as if often the case with tech investments, managers simply might not know where (or how) to look for savings.
Millions of pounds are wasted every year by cloud mismanagement, which makes it essential for recruitment firms to review their expenditure in this area. Cloud businesses and large software vendors, such as Microsoft change their licensing and billing methods continually, so a market assessment should be undertaken at least every 6 months. You may be locked into a contract with some services but there is usually room for a renegotiation, especially now.
Level up tech training
Recruiters with IT and tech roles to fill have been kept busy during the pandemic, as businesses have looked to plug a skills gap or expand their digital offering. But looking internally, how many people in the company really know how to get the best out of the IT at hand? Whether it’s Microsoft Office 365, CRM software or the CMS, employees are often only familiar with the features they need to ‘do the job’ and might be missing out on functionalities that can help boost their productivity.
From a security point of view, end-user training is also critical. Hackers are well aware of human error-related weaknesses, so you should regularly educate your employees on the types of attacks, how to spot them and how to respond. If the business is unable to conduct training on this topic in-house, it should certainly consider involving a third-party or signing up to an online service. While this may require some initial financial outlay, it will be significantly lower than the financial, operational and reputational impact of a successful cyber-attack.
Get cyber secure
The move to remote working led to a significant increase in cyber-attacks and entirely new issues for recruiters, such as ‘Zoombombing’ – the intrusion by hackers into video calls. More serious attacks like phishing scams, malware and ransomware are all on the rise too, making security a key priority for all firms wanting to avoid breaches that can affect their reputation, finances and productivity. It’s too easy for firms to be complacent and that’s dangerous.
An immediate win, therefore, is to get Cyber Essentials accredited. The government-backed scheme is designed to minimise the risk of cyber-attacks by applying very basic security controls in areas such as access control, secure configuration and malware protection. In order to keep clients’ and applicants’ data secure, firms should really implement Cyber Essentials as a bare minimum, any less would be negligent in their duties.
Change the phones
A recruiter’s most important tool is their phone, so it’s vital that they have access to features that enable collaboration, top client service and agile working. VoIP is an internet-based phone system that allows companies to direct extensions to any location, from any mobile device, and it’s typically cheaper, more flexible and offers greater functionality. Many firms will already be running it but it’s important to review system capabilities and cost, especially for those who plan to continue flexible working post-COVID.
The big shift for many firms has been the widescale move to softphone applications. They allow employees to use their mobile, laptop or other smart devices as their desk phone. Wherever an employee is, their phone number can follow them automatically and seamlessly. Microsoft Teams is also being used more regularly for direct calls in remote working. Although the analytics and reporting are not quite there yet, the collaborative aspect certainly is, so it may be a suitable option for smaller operations.
Management should have a radar of what’s going on within the business, from the high-level right down to granular detail where required. KPIs should provide a scorecard of company health, allowing firms to measure progress towards long-term objectives. For recruiters, this may include basic metrics around agent activity levels through to more general areas, such as the number of interviews to offers, offer acceptance rate to the quality of hire, and time to hire. Measuring and adjusting KPIs will keep firms focused and allow them to pivot more quickly when tactics aren’t delivering the results needed.
Those more experienced with KPI tracking may wish to consider investing in Business Intelligence (BI) software. More BI products are coming onto the market which can, for example, use AI to give granular insight into how the company is performing against a wide range of metrics, allowing agencies to take a more targeted approach to any policy or process changes.
Taking big strides with small steps
When the going gets tough, it’s tempting for decision makers to drastically cut all IT spend. Such a blanket approach rarely has a positive effect, but that doesn’t mean recruitment firms cannot optimise and reduce costs. Simple gap analysis, reviewing what is already in place and making strategic low-risk, low cost investments can pay dividends – in the short and long term.