By Karina Margit Erdelyi

COVID-19: Impact on Hiring, Interviewing, & On-boarding

COVID-19: Impact on Hiring, Interviewing, & On-boarding

Madison Wells recently released a report detailing the impact that COVID-19 has had on the Market Research and Advanced Analytics industries. The information gleaned has illuminated our understanding of what the landscape is currently—and where it may be headed. 

We are in a state of suspended economic animation—together with its citizens, the American economy is sheltering in place.

To help contain the spread of COVID-19, a substantial pause in activity was necessary from a public health perspective for a period of time. As social distancing is likely to continue in some way until the development of a vaccine or the discovery of a viable treatment, Madison Wells—an executive recruitment agency and thought leaders in the Market Research and Advanced Analytics sectors—sought to gain a better market understanding of where we are today and what tomorrow might look like. We conducted a brief survey to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on hiring, interviewing, and job on-boarding in these industries. The picture painted is a mixed one: with both bright and less-bright spots.

Hiring and Interviewing: Our Key Insights

  • The impact of the “pause” is substantial. Market Research and Advanced Analytics respondents report that close to 25% of the companies they work for have enacted furloughs or layoffs—and over 50% have put hiring on hold.
  • But there is also positive news. 34% of those surveyed report no changes in hiring, interviewing, or on-boarding—and 48% do not have a hiring freeze.
  • Clarity in communication has never been more vital. Between 24% and 31% of respondents were unclear as to whether their companies were interviewing, had a hiring freeze, or were on-boarding, which may indicate that communication could be improved.
  • Hiring is a virtual exercise right now. From a candidate perspective, it is much easier to interview—but for employers, a possible challenge may be to ensure that their assessments and evaluations are on point. Developing internal guidelines for remote interviews and virtual on-boarding will be instrumental in keeping things moving during this VUCA—volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous—time.
  • A crucial theme when it comes to hiring and economic uncertainty is risk aversion. No sector is safe from workforce reductions or hiring freezes during a recession, especially one triggered by a global pandemic. The current crisis has emphasized the need to create better, more sustainable opportunities for Americans.
  • However, this does not mean all companies are putting a freeze on hiring. Based on our network activity—interviewing and hiring in Market Research Insights, Data Science, and Marketing Analytics can be found in these sectors:
    • Gaming and online-streaming entertainment
    • Pharmaceutical and healthcare
    • Technology
    • Pockets of retail
    • Consumer product goods

The “future of work” seems to have arrived even sooner than anyone had anticipated.

The pandemic has propelled new technologies across all aspects of life at an unprecedented rate—from remote working to e-commerce to virtual learning platforms to wide adoption of video conferencing for both work and social purposes—and these new working, learning, and communication modalities will likely become a permanent part of our next normal.

Companies are dancing a delicate line between facing hard truths about revenue and the ensuing need to make tough decisions like whether to furlough employees, enact pay cuts, or make layoffs—with the need to protect the health of their workers and brand reputation. Forward-looking business leaders know, however, that investments must be made—people are the most important asset for any company—and some of the most impactful hires have historically been made during market corrections. The risk is not necessarily the recession itself, but rather, the risk is not having top-tier staff to advance your company out of a downturn into the next normal. According to the Harvard Business Review, hiring talent was, until recently, the number one concern of CEOs, and a top concern of those in the executive suite. 

The United States has been through many challenges—from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, Great Depression, wars, the 2008 recession—and has always emerged stronger and more robust than before. The current COVID-19 crisis may also turn out to be a moment in history that pushes us to create a more inclusive and resilient future.