How to Plan for Crisis as a Recruiter

You find out a lot about people during a crisis. Some remain calm, others panic, some step up, others hide. But the people you really want on your side are those who have prepared and planned for unforeseen circumstances.  

Recruitment is notoriously affected by external events. In the last few years alone, we have seen a global pandemic, the move to hybrid and remote working, the great resignation (or reshuffle as it’s now been reframed), economic uncertainty, and the rise of AI. It is no surprise that the recruiters that have thrived have prepared for uncertainty.

Recruiters face continual challenges. So, how do you make your teams unstoppable, no matter what gets thrown at them?

What Are the Crises in Recruitment?

A crisis usually appears unexpectedly and can be out of a recruiter’s control. This includes things like the pandemic, an economic downturn, regulatory changes, and unexpected industry or marketplace disruption. 

But crises can also be manufactured or occur from within a business. Such events might be data breaches, high employee turnover, loss of a major client, bad reviews affecting candidate and client uptake, failures in technology, or poor productivity from inefficient systems and processes.

Some crises have an external and internal component. Consider the behavior of candidates, like ghosting, for example. This could be considered a purely external issue – the recruiter has no control over the actions of candidates. Well, yes and no. Ultimately, a recruiter can’t control the actions of candidates. However, excellent candidate experience, responsive communications, and accurate skills matching can do a lot to solidify relationships.

The critical thing to know is that a crisis can be catastrophic to the business if teams can’t pivot and respond effectively. Maintaining operational efficiency during times of crisis can be extraordinarily difficult. In this respect, one crisis can quickly lead to another. 

The most successful recruitment firms continually plan for crises. You can, too. Here’s how.

1. Develop a Crisis Management Plan

The first critical step for any business to navigate future crises is to have a crisis management plan. 

Of course, unknown curve balls are hard to plan for (the pandemic is a prime example), but watching the markets, keeping up with industry news, keeping your ears to the ground through networking, and gathering feedback from clients and candidates can all help to keep your ‘crisis response radar’ primed and ready for action.

Key steps to create and maintain an up-to-date crisis management plan could include:

  • Risk assessment – know the potential threats
  • Determine the potential business impact of all known threats
  • Identify potential crisis scenarios
  • Identify contingency actions for specific crisis types
  • Define transparent chains of command
  • Ensure all team members understand their roles during a crisis
  • Establish internal and external communication plans
  • Monitor threats and recognize warning indicators
  • Gather data and analyze
  • Revisit your plans frequently

2. Make Your Crisis Planning Inclusive and Fun

Creative managers crew, business people, designer working with new startup project in office

If you want your team to be able to deal with anything that comes their way, they need to be included in the planning stage.

In our Crushin’ It in Staffing episode on remote working, our co-founder and CEO, David Alonso, spoke with Chris Dyer, CEO of PeopleG2, about how to prepare remote teams for the changes and challenges that lie ahead. Chris believes it should be a fun and engaging process getting remote teams to think more creatively about how they would handle certain situations.

At the beginning of team meetings, Chris throws in some crazy questions. For instance, he might ask, “What would happen if I died tomorrow? What would happen if we landed a giant client? Do we have a recruiting plan or staffing company on deck?”

Planning for potential disasters has a terrifying edge, but having these conversations with staff is crucial before something significant presents itself. Posing the difficult questions in a fun and engaging way can considerably impact mindset, making staff more able to cope with difficult situations as they arise.

3. Don’t Get Stuck in the Past

Chris Dyer firmly believes that, in most cases, focusing on past behaviors wastes time. In his experience, he says. “When it comes to addressing things from the past, people are inherently negative, they are defensive, and an argument ensues.”

Instead, Chris advises that it’s best to exemplify ‘forward behavior’, letting everybody express themselves and be fully present in the moment. Taking steps to move forward from prior negative interactions is the most impactful way to start a positive conversation among your team.

Regarding what will happen in the future, Chris believes it’s essential to “have a conversation about what that looks like, set those expectations and remove all the negativity.”

It’s vital to promote an open exchange of information and next steps and not get into the blame game and get stuck in the past. This is an opportunity to bounce ideas and revisit strategies so you can tailor your responses more robustly going forward.

4. Promote Collaboration

Group of entrepreneurs having a business meeting and communicating with their colleague via video call in the office.

The degree of collaboration during a crisis has a massive impact on outcomes. Individuals and teams must work together to solve rapidly changing complex problems and ensure a broader cross-functional perspective.

Research shows that people are more risk-averse in a crisis, and this means they tend to reach for solutions bedded in past behaviors and act from a place of self-preservation.

One study that looked at a decade’s worth of data on collaboration and financial performance across dozens of organizations, including professional service firms, found that the most highly collaborative workers — the top 10% — grew their business during the crisis and continued that upward trajectory.

In businesses where collaboration declined during a crisis, revenue contracted during the crisis and didn’t recover for a significant time.

To promote collaboration, leaders must:

  • Encourage constructive challenge – employees must feel able to float ideas and challenge each other’s assumptions
  • Keep track of and address unhelpful behavioral patterns, like work hoarding
  • Keep communication lines open with everyone in the organization
  • Ensure everyone understands the business goals, vision and purpose
  • Observe how your team responds to stress and provide support to help people work more collaboratively

Adopting recruitment software that provides innovative collaboration tools is also vital.

5. Focus on Goals

Setting goals is essential when times are good, but even more so when there’s a crisis. Goals can help keep everyone focused during times of turbulence and uncertainty.

You can’t execute any meaningful plan of action without clear goals. Often, employees are expected to fulfil multiple responsibilities each day with little knowledge or foresight about what they’re supposed to be working towards. Shorter-term, manageable goals can give employees a sense of control and insights into the bigger picture.

By communicating measurable goals, employees have an incentive to stay focused. Also, goal setting in a crisis can lead to better long-term decisions.

6. Celebrate Marginal Gains

Creative business people working on business project in modern office

The bigger picture (especially in a crisis) can cause panic and overwhelm when the pressure is on. Getting staff to focus on marginal gains is a powerful strategy. Small incremental gains can seem insignificant in isolation, but they can effectively improve overall performance and contribute to operational efficiencies before, during and after a crisis. 

7. Be Proactive

The recruitment landscape is turbulent. Anticipating crises and having action plans to navigate challenges is vital. Being proactive and leaning into possible challenges rather than shying away from them, will stand you in good stead and help to reinforce your business as a reliable partner.

Stay One Step Ahead With Tracker

Your recruitment software matters. While it’s hard to plan for the unknown, you can head off internal crises and free up recruiter’s time, so they have more scope for dealing with curve balls. 

Tracker’s integrated (ATS & CRM) recruitment software helps recruiters build better processes and relationships, takes the busy work out of everyday tasks, and enables accurate forecasting and pipeline visualization. With Tracker, you have all the data you need to plan ahead at your fingertips.

Make your recruitment challenges more manageable. Get a demo, and we’ll show you how. Or get in touch to discuss your recruitment software needs with our friendly and knowledgeable team.

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