On March 18, the International Labour Organization sounded the alarm. The organization called on governments to take urgent action to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic currently affecting the world. And with good reason: the pandemic could result in the loss of 25 million jobs worldwide. As the health disaster will be coupled with a severe economic and social crisis, we wanted to check how the situation was evolving on the ground by speaking directly with employment experts. Despite an overloaded agenda, Aude Boudaud, Associate Director Finance and IT at the Robert Walters recruitment firm, agreed to answer our questions. For Jobgether, she talks about not only of the state of recruitment assignments in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, but also of how her company has reorganized internally to meet the many challenges of the day.
How does the coronavirus crisis impact recruitment missions?
In the majority of cases, recruitment missions continue almost normally, especially if the process is well under way. Things are easier if a physical interview has already taken place.
However, a few missions have been put on hold due to the lack of visibility on the economy. Some of our clients prefer to remain cautious and wait until the end of the health crisis to proceed with a possible recruitment. Others do not wish to start a process for the moment, because of the impossibility to organize a physical meeting with the candidate.
What about missions that are in their very early stages?
The Robert Walters firm is being called upon for new recruitment assignments despite the health crisis, a sign that everything is far from being frozen. Exchanges take place very well at a distance, particularly with the help of video. However, a fundamental question arises: will the process thus initiated go through to its conclusion in the absence of a real meeting between the company and the candidate for the position?
Why is the physical meeting so important?
For a candidate, it can be more difficult to fix his or her attention on video, especially if he or she has to deal with several interlocutors simultaneously: for example, a HR manager and two operational staff. Similarly, travelling around the company premises can provide a lot of information about the company that’s recruiting them.
For consultants and companies, the challenge is to effectively measure how one feels about a particular candidate, which can be more difficult during a video interview.
In addition, stakeholders may encounter technical difficulties in carrying out remote interviews: transmission problems, lack of equipment…
In the case of missions that have been interrupted, how do you proceed with the candidate, who presumably needs to be reassured?
As soon as the crisis started, our first action was to contact all our clients and candidates. Recruitment is often stressful, but this is even more true today in this new context, and we had to accompany them through this ordeal and reassure them about the process underway.
How, at Robert Walters, have you reorganized yourself to meet the imperatives of this health crisis?
Robert Walters France is about three hundred employees who, thanks to teleworking, allow the firm to function normally today. Technically, we have been equipped to work remotely for several years now.
In this context, the most important thing was to be able to keep in touch with our candidates, our clients but also with other Robert Walters employees. We regularly organize meetings, workshops and even relaxing moments by videoconference in order to reproduce the atmosphere that we experience on a daily basis within the firm. It is essential to remain attentive to your colleagues; so that they can share their day, their fears but above all their joys.
What future consequences could this crisis have on the organization of work within companies? Especially in terms of partial or total distance work ("remote")?
It is very difficult to predict what the impact of this health crisis will be in the future. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that on-site work will remain the predominant form of organization, at least in the short term. Above all, the experience effect will provide us with a lot of information about which remote procedures are really effective.