Webinar: The New Normal – Thriving in a Changing Environment

WEBINAR: The New Normal – Thriving in a Changing Environment

The ongoing pandemic is challenging businesses globally to refocus how they manage and interact with their workforce. In this webinar, participants will gain candid insights on how companies are pivoting their day-to-day work, reprioritizing goals, and getting creative in how they engage their people.

Topics include:

• Remote workforce management
• Employee engagement
• Workforce options to maintain operational productivity
• Global hiring/regulatory updates
• Lessons learned from last recession
• Planning for recovery

On-Demand Webinar

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Webinar Transcription

Tallin: Welcome to today’s webinar The New Normal: How Companies can Thrive in a changing Environment. My name is Tallin Johnson. I am the Marketing Manager at Gava Talent Solutions and will be moderating today’s webinar on behalf of Gava Talent Solutions and McBride Sisters Wine Collection.

We would like to thank all of the audience members who set aside some time to be with us today. We hope everyone is safe and healthy during these times and hope that the content of today’s webinar will be of value to you in navigating the new normal. To go over a few housekeeping items before we get started. First, we want to make everyone aware that today’s webinar is being recorded and we will be sending a copy of the webinar recording and the slide deck to everyone who has registered for today’s session.

We have enabled the q&a function for this session. We would like to encourage you to please send in any questions that you do have during the session via the q&a chat window at any time. Our panelists will work to answer all questions that are submitted during the session at the end of the session. If there is not enough time to answer all questions at that time, our team will send answers to any unanswered questions via email upon completion of this session. Lastly, we would like to encourage everyone to share their comments, feedback, and questions via email at info@gavatalent.com.

Next, it is my pleasure to introduce today’s panelists. First, I would like to introduce Robin McBride, who is the co-founder of McBride Sisters Wine Collection, a wine company producing premium and super premium wines in New Zealand and the central coast of California. We are excited to have Robin on today’s webinar as she shares her experience and insights and operating her business in the new normal. You can learn more about the prices of the wine collection by visiting their website at www.mcbridesisters.com.

I would like to introduce Bill Armstrong, President of Gava Talent Solutions. Under Bill’s leadership, Gava Talent Solutions has grown into an international brand supporting our clients with key hires and building large teams, in deadline driven environments, all over the world. We are excited to learn from Bill as he shares his insights in guiding a global talent solutions organization through the new normal.

Next, I would like to introduce Paul Court, Director of Gava Talent Solutions. Paul manages global talent acquisition operations in the US and India, supporting clients in 100+ countries. We are excited to hear Paul’s insights of working with many different clients across a plethora of industries and the current trends of these organizations as they are adjusting to the new normal. It is now my pleasure to turn the time over to our panelists.

Bill: Thanks very much Tallin. Thank you for joining us today and giving us some time to go through this very important topic with us. So, these are very unprecedented times. I do not believe any of us have ever gone through anything quite like this that has developed quite like this, along with a level of uncertainty that is present in this particular case, and it is certainly something that has impacted our businesses in many ways and one of the biggest ways that attaches to tremendous impact in the way we work and where we work. I feel very lucky today that we have both Paul Court and Robin McBride here with us today to help us walk through some strategies for navigating what are some choppy and uncharted waters? So with that being said, Paul, over to you.

Paul: All right, fantastic. Thank you, Bill. As we have talked about the new normal and how companies can thrive in a changing environment, the dialogue that I have had with leaders of companies and hiring managers is around a number of key points that you will see on the slide is – Number 1 – Employees, are they able to access information from home? Are they properly set up with Wi-Fi and laptop and equipment and is all the information that they need accessible through cloud or some type of shared folder – has been a very hot topic amongst the hiring managers and companies I have been speaking with. Also how to effectively communicate in a remote environment. I think we are all used to seeing our work families in person and having that face to face interaction and seeing if Susie or Joe comes in and their heads down and they are not having a good day. We have picked up on those signals to see what is going on with our work family and make sure that everyone is okay. So we have had to change our style of how we communicate with each other in a remote environment and still be effective. I think also just the impact, it is no across the board, very different for a distribution manufacturing company that has a lot of warehouse or forklift drivers or hourly employees and their accessibility to data and information and willingness or ability to work remote, versus the technology companies that this is already a way of doing business for them. It is not the new normal to them. So definitely look forward to having continuing dialogue on there. Anything else that you would like to add to that topic?

Bill: Yeah, and particularly on that last point, Paul, I think in some respects, we are operating in two different worlds here as there are some of us that are trying to figure out how to do this from home and how to still interact with our work families, as you put it, and how do we get by without that water cooler talk and stuff like that. And then you talk about a lot of these folks in the distribution and manufacturing sectors, and they are still working, they are still out there trying to keep the company moving along and keep up products on our dinner tables. It is a very different world for them. So then it becomes an issue of how do you keep those people safe? How do you keep them motivated when everything that you hear when you turn on the news or radio is stay home stay safe? So very unique and challenging times with trying to assimilate all of our population into this new normal.

Paul: So productivity timekeeping, conversation completeness throughout different industries, this is a very different time. How do you track productivity from employees at home? I have even heard employees are more productive by working from home and we do not have the crazy commute traffic anymore and spending two to three hours a day in the car to need to be more productive. Actually working in a remote environment timekeeping, compliance issues, a lot of talk from our publicly traded companies about internal controls and adhering to the different compliance by the Sarbanes Oxley act of protection of data and payroll data, etc. Is that information safe and are we protecting that data from working in a remote environment. So that has been a hot topic as well, Bill if you want to talk about the compliance issues as well.

Bill: Just to continue what you are saying there Paul, I think the compliance issues could be a whole other issue in and of itself, because you get into issues of people’s ability to be able to work based upon, as we are going to talk here in a minute, child care issues or elder care issues or things like that, if they are people that were coming into the home that are not coming into the home now. What if somebody does get sick, what if they come down and get diagnosed with the virus, how does that work? If you are in an occupation where you are dealing with sensitive personal information, if you have to have social security numbers or addresses, etc. there are certain things you have to do to be in compliance if you are a GDPR certified company, or you are working in locations where GDPR is a regulation you have to abide by, how do you stay in compliance with that? If you have got somebody sitting on their back deck on their personal laptop, so a lot of issues that come into this beyond just I am going to dial in from home instead of being at my desk in the office. I think these things all do come together the productivity and the childcare and those types of things. I was talking to a candidate the other day whose wife works for the local police department. So she is required to go to work every day. They have an 18-month-old at home, they have no childcare. So now, this candidate is trying to work from home, but he is now the sole childcare provider for an 18-month-old. How do you do that? The kid is now mobile and getting into everything. It really is a burden on the employee, and it stretches the employer too, because can you come up with a creative way to solve this? Can you potentially allow this person depending on what they are doing alternate work hours, so that they can be the primary care provider? When they have to, then the child takes a nap and you do some work, and then when your significant other comes home, maybe you are working from 4 to 10 at night or whatever it might be. I think it has caused a lot of companies to maybe get a little bit more open minded and flexible about what the work schedule looks like and that is where those creative ideas come in to try and solve some of these challenges because you want to come out of this with an engaged workforce, and this is a crucial time for that employee employer relationship.

Bill: Because I guarantee you, most people are not going to come out of it feeling the same way about their companies. They are going to come out of it feeling grateful to work for the company that they work for, because they cannot believe that the company has done this. It has afforded them this extra time and extra flexibility and has done all of these types of things, to take into account that they do have that child at home, where they have done extra thing to protect their employees. You are going to have a lot of people that come out of this, thinking, as soon as the market gets a little better, I am going to look for another job because I cannot believe how I was treated by my company at this time. So it is a really pivotal moment when you when you get into situations like this and from the employer standpoint, you have got a job to get done. But how you go about doing that, and how you meet some of these challenges and the ideas that you come up with. Robin is going to talk about a little bit later here, some of the things that she and her team have done in this regard that are terrific. It is going to have a huge impact on how engaged that workforces when we do get back to a more normal time. So you want to move to the next slide there Tallin?

Tallin: All right. Thank you, Bill. Helpful. Robin, I know we have had a number of conversations around what you have been able to do around employee engagement and wonderful ideas. And it sounds like your employees have responded very nicely. Would you mind sharing some of the some of the ideas that you have?

Robin: Yeah, some of the things that we have tried to implement in terms of how our team engages with each other and how we are able to maintain engagement with our team has really been trying to uphold and maintain the company culture that we have already built. So when employees are working isolated from the rest of the team, we were really concerned about losing that personal engagement and losing a little bit as the company culture while everyone shelters in place. So one of the things that we tried doing, which turned out to be a really big hit was that when we were all in the office together, on Fridays, we would have our weekly wine down. We would all gather around at the end of the day, and we would have a glass of wine because we make a lot of wine. We would have a glass of wine together and we would sit down and we would talk about our accomplishments throughout the week and just really end the week on a positive note because it tends to be pretty hectic in our office where we are small and nimble. So it is a little bit fast paced, to say the least. So that was something that we all really look forward to every Friday and now that we have been sheltering in place and we do not have the opportunity to all gather in person and sit down, we started having the same Friday wine down by zoom meeting. It gives us a chance to be able to visually see all of our team members that we are so used to seeing every week, still have a glass of wine and be able to adjust in a relaxed setting, in a relaxed atmosphere, everyone puts their work away for a little bit of time, and get to engage with the team members again, which we feel is very important. Another thing that we did was we started doing Netflix-watch parties. So for us in our particular industry, we have had a few movies that have come out that are wine related topics and in one way or another this topic is wine.

Netflix launched something new where you can have a virtual watch party where everybody can log in and watch a movie at the same time and you can chat on a sidebar and everyone talks about the movie and it is another activity that we are all able to do together virtually. We usually try to do that at the end of a workday. But it is another chance for people to relax a little bit, but still maintain that level of engagement with the rest of the team. Also, because we are in a fairly small office space, we all interact a lot, normally in the office together and so we have incorporated using just messaging systems. So for us, we use Google messenger and it takes the place when we used to just look over the shoulder and call out to a team member and ask the question. Or where you would walk over to somebody’s desk and talk to them about something or just have a quick question. That way, throughout the day, there is still a level of engagement, people are still interacting with each other beyond just email messages, maybe not quite to the level where you would make a full on phone call, but we still have that real time communication that goes on between team members. We have found that to be really useful as well.

Bill: Fantastic. Just out of curiosity, did you do any of this before the shelter in place? Are these all new ideas as a result of work to remote?

Robin: No, it is all really new. Having the wine down on a zoom meeting, obviously, is new since the shelter in place, but it is trying to maintain some of what is normal in our company and in the organization. We use the messaging systems before, not to the degree that we do now because literally before you were just, like I said, talk over your shoulder to the person that is sitting behind you or walk over to their desk. So we did have those implemented already within the organization. We did not use them to the extent that we use now.

Paul: We have actually started implementing a Friday Google Hangout meeting, and more Zoom meetings and it is amazing how it just helped the team even become more cohesive and brings light to some darkness. But it has been fantastic, we have seen some really good results from the zoom meetings and the different Hangouts, and I think it has brought our teams together even more than ever before.

Bill: I would just point out that the two of you feel the same, but I draw great energy from those. Because sometimes you spend a whole week and you are talking to people, but if you are not connecting with them, and then when I think your ideas are so great there, Robin because I know when we do that weekly zoom call and get the whole team together. You see the faces. It is a big shot of energy for me to keep me going through all of this.

Robin: Yeah, absolutely and I think that is exactly right. Because I think that we feel that we naturally have a certain high energy level in the company and it is really hard to maintain that when everyone is working from the kitchen table and have not seen each other in a week or weeks or however long this is going to go on. There is a big differentiation as well because we have the same group. We have our all-hands-on-deck meetings on Monday, with everybody in the organization. That is completely all business. So on Mondays, we talk about what is coming up in the week, we talked about projects, deadlines, what everybody is going to focus on during the week. And to the opposite of that on Friday it is not work it is what really cool thing happened and what are we doing this weekend. So we have two different ways that we get to interact as a whole company. One being all business and the other just purely being the human connections that we feel that we are missing by not seeing each other in the office.

Paul: Oh, that is such a great point. I think that human connection starting to get a little bit lost when everyone was so busy and the speed of information that is coming to you and it is nice just to hit the pause button and focus on your work family and I am sure we will see results from productivity definitely. Great, excellent dialogue. Great points. Robin, thank you so much.

Robin: So one of the key things that we are learning as we go through this current time and the challenges is really rethinking, when, where and how work gets done and who does it. Obviously, everybody on our team is now sheltered in place and working from home. But one of the things that we believe is key is to remain flexible and agile and ready to make adjustments as we go along. So an example of that might be, we have an employee who is in General Administration and we found that based on the changing environment, in our business in terms of our route to market and how we sell our wines that we actually needed more help in the marketing department because we had to reassess how we were reaching and engaging with our customers and our consumers and a big piece of our efforts, we were going to go in that direction.

So we were able to quickly take a look at our needs and be able to reallocate those resources, of course, not outside of anybody’s wheelhouse or expertise, but just make some adjustments, so that we are sharing the load and as we as owners, make adjustments to our short and our long term goals, that we are able to have some flexibility with our staff and readjust as necessary. And so far, it has worked out great because we definitely do not want to have a department or a set of employees who are just overly burdened with the workload, based on decisions that we have made, for how our business is going to be conducted. When we have talent in house, it is also capable of assisting with those new goals. And along with that we are, on a weekly basis, assessing and making any necessary adjustments to our short- and long-term goals for our business because most of our products are sold in grocery chain and mass retail. We are watching data very closely that is coming in from consumer shopping behavior and habit, and online shopping. A lot of wine and spirits is being purchased in general, but shifting restaurants and bars are not open in a lot of places. So that whole channel has gone dormant for a little while for us. So we have to look and see, based on, local regulations, what businesses are closed, and then how consumers are adjusting to those businesses, and then how we need to adjust as a supplier to be able to meet our consumer demand. So  for us, it is just about weekly, that we take a look, we assess, we adjust our plans, and then we openly discuss with our staffs, with our departments, with the department heads about what the trends that we are seeing, and then we collectively make the decision about how to allocate our resources.

Bill: Perfect.  All right. So thanks, Robin. Some great points there and some great real-world points that I think everybody is having to try and figure out how to handle. And then amongst the other impacts on the business or just a lot of the mechanics, some of the things that seems so simple that you took for granted, of getting staff and bringing people on board now all of a sudden, those things are not necessarily so easy. Remote interviewing is something that is obviously taking off right now. Many clients, virtually every client that we are working with now is using some sort of remote interviewing to try and keep this process going during the shutdown and that is one of those trends that I think will be interesting to see what happens to that when we get back to work because we talk about that a little bit later, but some of these things, you talk about a new normal I have a feeling this could be one of them. Recently the government did relax some of the standards on the I-9 form that all new hires have to fill out obviously the employment eligibility form and it had been forever and ever, that you had to view the person’s employment eligibility documents in person and they could not bring you any type of copy of that document. You had to see an original document in person or have an agent do it or basically the only way that you could get that done and be in compliance and that has now changed. Right at the end of March, it was around March 20 or so, Homeland Security changed that regulation at the time they did it for 60 days. There is a good chance they could extend it out potentially even beyond that. But now you can look at something, you can look at that over a computer screen if you are face timing somebody or you are doing some remote meeting with them, and they show you their passport.

Bill: You note on there that you have seen it and I believe you would just write COVID-19 on the bottom of the I-9 form, and you would either spot as many would still fill that in as to why you did not see it in person and then you have time, once you are able to go back to work, to then see the actual document and go fill it in. But that is one accommodation that has been made to deal with the reality of many people not being able to do that in person. And then we talked a little bit about some jobs and industries in high demand and anybody that has been watching the news, understand that anything involving the health care industry, grocery stores are hiring distribution centers are hiring, delivery companies cannot find people quickly enough, and there are a whole host of industries out there that are actually doing better in times like this. I think that those are the types of things that at least from as long as we can get some of those folks that are still out there, and these people are still working, it does continue to sort of pump the lifeblood into the economy and keep us going through some of these tough times. Finally, one of the other big impacts, we talked about this a little bit, we talked about compliance, that is data protection. There are some companies that might have been planning for quite a long time for an event like this, that they had a very updated business continuity plan and if you are one of those companies and you had a bunch of certifications, etc. then you might have been able to roll into this pretty easily. That plan when you were doing it, you were not sure if you ever were going to use it, now you are getting to use it and really put it to the test. But there are a lot of companies out there that, I do not think, were quite ready for it and got caught a little bit by the speed at which this all happened. We have talked a lot about video conferencing and sure enough zoom had a security breach which made a lot of companies nervous and now we are seeing zoom at being banned by the Government of India. So, no one that is employed by the Government of India can use zoom, they have deemed it an effect not safe and have warned others about using it as well. We have seen some similar things happen in China in some of these other places, so we could have an entire webinar on just data protection. That would require a different panel of experts to talk about the things you could do there. But everyone just needs to be aware that is a huge hot button issue right now.

Paul: It is a great point. Bill, I would like to touch a little bit on the onboarding because this is a real time subject that I have actually been dealing with customers on. As you know, we recently had a corporate controller start from a furniture manufacturing company in Richmond and the feedback that I received from the employee was very unique onboarding process. How many of us can actually say that we have hired an employee, only through meeting them through video conference, and we have on boarded them without actually physically seeing them. So, the feedback from the employee was, the onboarding process was not that smooth and then as I talked to the CFO, even her feedback was, I am sure, we cannot get frustrated with the training but this is a very unusual time. So I think we definitely just need to be conscious, we are used to showing up to work with our cubicle all decorated and the swag on the desk and we take the employee to lunch on the first day and during these times, it is a very different onboarding process and experience for the employee.

Bill: Good point, Paul. So we have been talking a lot about the impacts of this domestically and unfortunately, by definition, when you are in a pandemic, this is something that goes beyond the borders of just the United States. What we are seeing on the global hiring front is many things that are very similar to what is happening in the United States is that you have stay at home orders in a lot of countries, some of them are more restrictive than we have here. In other places, you are seeing things where some of these other countries might be a little bit ahead of us like in the APAC region. We are starting to see some things come back to some degree. But in general, it is a very similar situation to things you are seeing in the States. And as I mentioned, now that we are starting to see some of these factories come back online. One of the things that we are saying is, and I am talking about some of the ones we have got a client with a factory in Thailand, for instance and so that factory is now back up and running. But they still have to maintain social distancing. So people within the factory in this assembly line still have to be six feet apart. Maybe before they were a foot apart and you had five people on that section of the line now you have got one. What that means is the factory is up, it is running, but it is maybe a 25-30% of capacity. Then you get into things with the distribution chain and availability of the product and those are ongoing concerns. Even when you hear that a country is coming back and they are releasing some of these stay at home orders, etc., oftentimes it is a situation like that where things might be starting to open up now that they really are not at full capacity. Another thing that you need to know if you are looking to hire globally is that nearly every country has some type of assistance program or protections in place that has been legislated, protect both employers and employee and these are not one size fits all type things. If you look at them, for five different countries, you are going to find five different sets of regulations. Some might be somewhat similar to what we have done over here with the payroll, protection, things that Congress has just done. Many of them will be quite different and so what I would encourage you to do if particular countries that you are looking to get into, you are going to have to on a case-by-case basis sort of research that what might be available to you there. Might there be some enticing things to hire somebody in one of those countries right now? What are the things you have to know that you can and cannot require from employees in times like this? So, still a lot of uncertainty. I think all of the eyes are going to be on the APAC region, because they sort of came into this first and they are starting to open up first. Hong Kong is starting to get going a little bit more, Japan got going and then had to back off a few things because they started seeing the infection rate go back up again. So I am still a very fluid situation, to say the least. And then you layer the other thing on top of it just to travel challenges and I think that even in these global hires that still somewhere along the way, the employer wants to meet the employee, and maybe they fly over to do a final interview, or they have local people that can maybe do some of those things. But at some point, if they are headquartered in the US, they are going to want to bring the person over, they are going to want to go over there and so that basically comes to a complete halt. It seems that no one is traveling right now. So that has been another thing the remote interviewing comes into play here, that people are really having to change and rethink how they go about doing this. I will say that in a given week, I am having somewhere between 5 to 10 meetings with clients talking about hiring internationally. There are a lot of plans that people have out there to do this and everybody is sitting on the sidelines right now and trying to get an idea of what is going on.

But I do think that this market is going to open up potentially, quite quickly, as soon as soon as, reasonably possible, and I do think that you are seeing people that were thinking about going particularly into the Asia Pacific area are keeping a close eye on that. There is some school of thought that maybe they can even begin to do some of the hires over there, that they that they might aid as they get those things up and running before they can do some things in the United States. So, very interesting, a lot of moving parts very dynamic situation right now. It will be interesting to see how all of this develops in the next month or two.

So one of the things to wrap it up here is, those of us that have as much gray hair, as I have, have been through some things like this before. This is not the first economic slowdown or recession or whatever you want to call it, that I have been through and many leaders have been through. This is the most unique one given all of the circumstances and given the uncertainty and the factors that are involved, which are way beyond economic factors that will determine when things pick up again. Just a few of the lessons learned coming out of this and the first one there and I know this might be an easier said than done category. But whatever you can do to be adequately staffed, as things start to turn around is going to be hugely important to how quickly it turns around. Because as Paul is talking about that, there might be people out there today and people, obviously, if you have been furloughed or laid off or something like that you might be open to flexible work schedules and so forth. But when things start to really turn around and spin in the other direction, that if you have kept your key people and you are adequately staffed and you have a trained team ready to go and jump out of the gates first, you are going to maximize your ability to take advantage of the turnaround and if you just simply do not have the people and then you are trying to hire when so many other people are trying to hire. You are that that first wave is going to come and go, and you are not going to be a part of it and so that is an opportunity. There will be a lot of companies around this issue that are able to gain market share when things start to turn around because if you are ready and somebody else is not, and you get out of the pits faster, you are going to take that business that would have gone to somebody else. So I think that is a hugely important thing to be aware of.

Next, which I think has been one of the themes that we have talked about today and Robin has talked about this as well is be flexible. Because the one thing that I do know is things will be different when people go back to work and at first when people go back into the office, it is going to be as odd going into the office As it was odd for many people being forced, in some cases to work from home. If you just think about it, like say we are having a meeting in our office, typically what happens, there is a conference table, we all go in, sit down at these chairs that are practically touching each other. So six feet, you do not necessarily even have six inches from the person beside you. Somebody oftentimes is doing something writing on a whiteboard, that somebody else will pick up that pen and write on the whiteboard. Then, food gets brought in, a lot of times it is cafeteria style or family style, I should say, and people go get what they want. Then somebody brings cookies in the afternoon, and then a lot of times somebody would not want to eat the whole thing so you just break it in half and somebody will take the other half and everybody is like reaching in there.

I am thinking to myself, can you imagine doing that today, like everybody is going to be staring at everybody and you break a cookie and half and somebody is going to want to like throw you out the window, so it is these things that and even the office, I think this huge trend has been out of the offices, get rid of the cubes, more open shared spaces. A lot of companies do not even have assigned workstations to people, you just come in, find one plug in your laptop, and get going. A lot of them are now where you are sitting right across from somebody, maybe somebody is right next to you, not even close to six feet. So what is that going to be like? You hear a lot on the news about restaurants having to change configurations and have fewer tables so that you can maintain that separation. As we plan for the recovery, people are going to have to take a look at their office layout and things like that too and figure out if that is going to work because it is going to be a huge challenge getting the workforce comfortable again working in that environment in close quarters with their fellow employees.

A couple of other things, one of the things in the early returns from China has been that some of these things have been coming back more quickly than anticipated and they are seeing certainly that there was some pent-up demand, particularly for a lot of consumer goods, etc. So I think you have to be prepared for that and so you do not miss that first wave but you have to be prepared that there could be some pent-up demand there that when people are ready to go they may all be ready to go at once and then I think the last part is 4 and 5 can go together and yet you cannot over communicate at a time like this. Both within your company and externally with clients and you need to share information to people. You have to tell them what is happening along the whole journey and I think that is certainly something that builds trust and then you want to you do not want to share what you have learned through this because the companies and the way they operate are learning things. Many things that are going to change the way we work in the future and so this is a huge point as well as share that information and communicate. Robin I am sure this is something – a topic that you have had to spend some time thinking about and in terms of planning for that recovery and thinking about what it will be like as things begin to open up and would you just like to  share a thought or two on this point about some of your thoughts on how we can begin to get back to normal.

Robin: I think for us that we are, in terms of planning, just overestimating the returns to what the new normal might look like in terms of time so we are not really pushing to try to get things back exactly the way that they were we know that never really is going to be the case. In terms of our company goals, our production, our sales goals, we have just put everything back by two quarters of the year. None of the things that we thought were happening now and over the last month we are just going to push it two quarters ahead and then in terms of organizationally we are just looking to reevaluate how we can maintain a level of productivity and just like we have all been talking about today is really about supporting our employees and maintaining a level of flexibility.

I do not think that we are ever going to go back to a sort of rigid organizational system that we have been in the past. We are going to look towards our staff and towards our team members for feedback and take that into consideration when we look to see how we are going to go forward once we get out of the current situation. But I think it really all comes down to knowing that we have the right team members and relying on their expertise and their productivity which they have shown to be excellent at maintaining while we have been sheltering in place and then adjusting and probably in baby steps to some extent towards getting back to probably what will be our a long term more normal workflow and more work environment. Other than that, in terms of the company itself, like I said we just pushed everything out a couple of quarters and again we reassess weekly so that might change but we have taken the burden off ourselves to be able to give ourselves the time and flexibility to assess and adjust quickly if need be and to be able to make the changes that are the best for the company and for the employees themselves.

Bill: Thanks, Robin. I think one of the things that you had mentioned at a time or two was you are looking at this and making decisions and sort of refiguring things weekly and I think that is one of the other things that has come out of this time is that, I was watching the news a couple of nights ago and in some report from a government agency had come out about some of the effects of the virus and its impact on the economy and some things like that and then they said that the report was discounted because it was old and it did not come out and it was based on data that was two weeks ago. So things are so dynamic that I am sure you look at this weekly and you probably see quite a few fluctuations week to week.

Robin: Sure, we do and look in hindsight now it is almost a luxury to have been able to have an annual plan with quarterly goals and then we all work toward that and it did not really fluctuate very much. That is not the state that were in anymore and particularly when you have a consumer product because it is really all based on consumer purchasing behavior in this new environment and given the current situation that we are in so we have had to, for my sister and I, as owners of the company we have had to commit to staying flexible and to position ourselves with a bit of a longer lead time to deviate from any goal that we had last week that we need to recreate. So for us, it is also a state of mind we cannot make really rigid plans and goals that we expect our team members to adhere to. We have to change our own way of thinking and be able to focus on the changing environment weekly and make decisions based on that and know that our team believes in supports or decisions and that they are able to adjust.

Bill: Excellent point and great feedback there.

Tallin: All right. Thank you, Robin and Bill and Paul, for your insights today, we really appreciate that, and I am sure our audience has learned a lot from all the insights given to us. We do have a few minutes for a Q&A session, and we have had some questions come in and I am going to pose some of these questions to our panelists now. Starting with our first question which was –
1. How does recruiting work now? I am looking to hire, and I am not sure how to do it.

Paul: This is a great question. I will take this one if that is okay with the panelist. Great question is asked by multiple hiring managers recently there is a number of things that have changed but we are still seeing a really good amount of hiring amongst our clients during shelter in place for both essential and non-essential businesses. The major difference is interviews and onboarding is conducted via videoconference or phone interviews. Luckily the Department of Homeland Security have also relaxed the regulations for employers required you see the I-9 documents in person and of course at this time if it is non-essential all work is being performed remotely so this was a great question and definitely something that our hiring managers have been asking frequently. I hope that helps.

Tallin: All right, thanks Paul and our next question is –
2. In spite of the current downturn pause by Covid-19, there are certain job segments where your organization is continuing to experience ongoing growth and can you list or describe those segments/ areas for us

Paul: Most definitely, I can take this one as well. Seeing no set pattern but we are definitely seeing movement in a number of industries that would include biotech, pharmaceutical, certain manufacturing companies that are, to give an example, a company that provides a technology for grocery stores where the old school manual changing the prices of each of the food items is being replaced with technology where it can be done remotely from a corporate headquarters to keep the prices up to date which is definitely it seems like a hot industry especially during this type of environment. We are also seeing a demand for revenue analyst, sales analyst, sales, and marketing to be able to get the products that are still in demand to market in front of prospects and at different levels and human resources. Human resources to help whether it is onboarding whether it is off boarding or working with Camden’s that have been for employees that have been affected by layoffs or furloughs and making sure there is a smooth transition.

Tallin: Alright, thank you Paul. And the next question is –
3. Covid-19 has drastically impacted how organizations hire for certain roles. Are you observing an increase in contagion versus direct hire?

Bill: I will go ahead and take that one. Another really good question and yes, we are seeing an uptick and the contingent or interim workforce. We are at that stage now where things are starting to move again to some degree when things first happen for many of us in the middle of March and the shutdowns were announced it was, as we discussed, something was very paralyzing to organizations and so now we are at a point where people are realizing that this is the new normal and work still has to get done and there were companies that had a lot of open positions when this occurred that many things they were hiring for and now I have just gotten to the point where they cannot put the work off anymore. So what we are seeing is that with that realization that all these things have, we have to figure out a way to keep moving forward we are starting to see a nice uptick and some of this contingent or project work getting handled and companies do not quite have the confidence yet to commit to some of these full-time, we would consider, full-time permanent roles but they are trying to make sure that they can at least get the work done and maybe get a little closer to peeking around the corner to getting some idea of what the future looks like before they commit to the roles on a permanent basis. This is also an opportunity we are starting to see some of what we would call those temp to perm opportunities that I think a lot of these roles that people are going into are roles in a perfect world.

Five months ago, the companies would have hired a direct hire employee but now just lacking that confidence and lacking some of that foresight of what is going to come next they are doing that on a, more of a temporary basis and so there are some real opportunities for folks in those roles. Get in there, do a good job, learn the company in these difficult times and then have an inside track to potentially getting that job when the company does open it back up.

Tallin: All right. Thank you, Bill for that and we have time for one more question and that came in and –
4. How in your opinion is the current downturn caused by Covid-19 impacting your organization’s hiring practices differently than the one caused by the economic recession in 2008?

Bill: I will take that one as well. This is Bill again and I think on this, one of the big differences is just the speed with which this occurred that I think typically when you have these recessions, in 2008 we had the mortgage crisis and all of those things there was a pivotal time there where over that one weekend where everyone get together with a major bank and the presidential candidates were coming together and then as they saw this thing escalating and then came out with a plan to help get us through it but there were a lot of indicators before that the economy was cooling off and there was some sign this was going to happen and then as we were into that recession it sort of gradually came down. We, sort of, bottomed out and then it was a long gradual build back up and that is usually how those things happen. In this one, it has not been that way, it was almost as if someone turned off the faucet and there were not a whole lot of people before the Covid-19 situation predicting doom and gloom for the economy in 2020. So that I think has been the big differences. Companies really have not had any time to adjust that they have been doing this on the fly. There has been no game plan for this, there is not a lot of experience that people can rely on and so when people did that as I had mentioned before it just turned off the hiring like somebody with flipping a switch and now that you are starting to see it come back. What is going to be interesting about this as we come out of it is how does this, what does it look like going forward and how it impacts hiring because I am hearing a lot from our larger clients that when they do come back that they are going to be having situations where they may have staggered work hours. They may have staggered days of working and certain groups go in on Monday and Tuesday, other groups go in Monday Wednesday and Friday or maybe nobody goes in on Friday. So you are going to see some situations like this which would impact how they hire, who they hire and how can the person that they are hiring fit some of these things into  their work schedule and adapt to it.

A lot of these unknowns make this very different from a hiring perspective and I do not think any other should expect that when things get better that all of a sudden hiring work schedules, work hours, everything are just going to be completely how they were before this happened because I just do not think that is going to be the case. Even though that there is still some hope in some segments out there that we would have the V recession there is certainly debate about this but it came down quickly hopefully it bounces back quickly but even bouncing back quickly things will be different.

Tallin: All right. Thank you, Bill. So, we have run out of time and it looks like there were some unanswered questions. As a reminder we will be setting answers to the individuals who submitted questions via email upon completion in the session. We would like to thank our panelists for their time today and the valuable insights which they have shared with us. We would also like to thank all of the audience members to spend time with us today. We will be sending a copy of the webinar recording and the slide deck to all registrants upon completion of the session. Lastly, we would like to encourage you to share any comments or questions that you do have with us via email at info@gavatalent.com.  Have a great day.


Bill Armstrong

President, Gava Talent Solutions

Bill Armstrong oversees the strategic direction, expansion, and operations of all our solutions. Under Bill’s leadership, Gava Talent Solutions has expanded to providing services for all major industries and countries and has built one of the largest candidate networks in the industry.

Paul Court

Director, Gava Talent Solutions

Paul manages global talent acquisition operations in the US and India, supporting clients in 100+ countries. With over 20 years of experience, Paul has a proven track record in executing talent acquisition strategies and building world-class teams.

Robin McBride

Co-Founder, McBride Sisters Wine

Robin McBride is President and co-founder of McBride Sisters Wine Collections, a wine company producing premium and super-premium wines in New Zealand and the Central Coast of California. The McBride Sisters Collections is now the largest African American founded and owned wine company in the United States.