Unprecedented times requires exceptional leadership

Unprecedented times requires exceptional leadership


It comes to no surprise; it’s been an interesting few weeks.

In Australia, recent unemployment figures indicate there are an additional 1.4 million people out of work, bringing the total figure of unemployed or underemployed to just under 4 million.

Whilst I sit here in my spare bedroom (which is now the new office), I’m seeing a mixed response from clients with regards to their approach to staffing and recruitment during this crisis. Some companies have open roles they need to fill but aren’t taking action because they want to protect their current workforce, some, have had to let people go; and others are going full steam ahead and taking advantage of the current marketplace and hiring talent for their team.

For the first time in a long time, it’s an employer’s market. A lot of IT and Sales candidates that were once ‘hard to find’, are available.

Though the chance of a viral epidemic is ‘1 in 100 years’, the effects are colossal as we’re experiencing now. It is imperative to understand the ramifications to your team and yourself. You can’t control a crisis, but you can control how you respond to one.

“How companies respond is going to define their brand for decades” – Mark Cuban, entrepreneur billionaire.

Given the uncertainty of the situation and the many different ways business leaders are responding to the crisis, any potential future talent you look to hire will most likely consider how the business reacted to, and, managed this situation as a reassurance of their decision to join.

Yes, companies are taking measured approaches in order to mitigate their operational and financial exposure. For companies that have had to make redundancies or furloughs, it is all about how it is handled. I’ve spoken to candidates who were notified via email/ texts that they were being made redundant with no further 1-1 phone/ video conversations. Making them feel like they are just another ‘cog in the wheel’ – which is not the last impression you want to make as a company. To receive positive feedback in this situation, some companies are proactively analyzing the sentiment from those have been made redundant and helping them with the next steps, i.e. JobSeeker payments. The IT market in Australia is a close-knit community, people talk.  

Nonetheless, there are many firms that are reacting in such a way that is strengthening their brand. The work they’re doing in their efforts to look after their employees today will make them a stronger and more attractive employer of the future.

One of our enterprise clients has committed to paying hourly contractors a regular salary, even if their hours are reduced because of COVID-19. Other clients who are much smaller, have sat down (virtually) and discussed how they are going to survive and get through the other side, together. Whether it be reducing base salary as a team collectively, reducing work hours to 3 days a week, changing commission structure or other reassurances in the form of guaranteed wages, and sick leave. Either way, communication has become more important than ever.

We have had a few candidates start their new job this month and it’s good to see how companies are coming up with creative and inventive ways to support them as they enter a new era of working from home during the crisis and making sure that they are welcomed and truly feeling part of the team, whilst being socially distant.

Final Thoughts

Nobody truly knows just how long this situation will continue to impact people, businesses, economies, and countries around the world. The simple fact remains that although social distancing is making a difference, we may not be fully in control of things until a vaccine is in place. We can control the actions we take, and the humanity behind those actions should be something we can stand by with pride in years to come.

Whilst the fear of the unknown/ uncertainty is real, the team at nVision Talent, like many Australians, are resilient and together, we can get through this, we must encourage our team as best as possible so we can once again, support our clients and our business.

Gartner has put together a free on-demand seminar that outlines a few key points about ways companies of all sizes can respond to the crisis; it’s called 'Leading through COVID-19: How your Business can respond'. It’s an hour-long, but well worth listening to if you can.