While the COVID-19 pandemic began attacking the world at the beginning of the year, companies and businesses across the UK had to make changes to stay relevant. Most of them had no choice but to move online, with some switching to eCommerce for the first time since it was the only way that they could stay afloat. With other changes taking place, various countries imposed strict restrictions on borders by implementing national lockdowns to force people to stay indoors, reducing the number of people infected and the spread of the virus.
While the initial lockdown did some amount to reduce the spread, companies and businesses found it challenging to meet their targets with the largest part of their workforce and their customer base staying home so started laying off their staff. Close to 200 million people were losing their jobs globally, and it seems like the numbers are only rising, which can be quite challenging. While various countries dealing with the pandemic differently, some found getting through the virus a lot tougher than others, with the UK and the United States finding it the toughest.
Around the UK, 1.69 million people lost their jobs during the months of the pandemic. While many of them were looking for work, others were waiting for the situation to get better before starting to look for work again. To reduce the number of people losing their jobs, the Government started implementing various other plans and schemes to reduce the number of people laid off. The UK Government implemented the furlough scheme at the beginning of the pandemic, and it powered the economy for eight months. It paid the salaries of people working at companies with the actual company only paying the difference.
According to records and predictions, as on the 25 of November, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which is responsible for keeping tabs on the amounts the Government spends. After much analysis, they estimated that the UK Government borrowing would reach
£394 billion for the current financial year, from April 2020 to April 2021.
While many companies moved to remote working to follow the Government implemented rules, there were various industries such as the hospitality, construction, maintenance and many other industries, who could not move to remote working since they are done in-person. They also had aspects taken online, like the MOT checks across the UK, with the paperwork done remotely, but the actual vehicle checks were in person.
About six or seven months into the pandemic, the UK saw another spike in the number of cases; although they initially decided against another lockdown, seeing that they didn’t have an option, they had to get through a national lockdown. People were not allowed to stay outdoors, and they shut offices. The companies that could remote work were doing the same while the rest were waiting for things to get better. The UK implemented the rule of six, which meant that six people from two different households were allowed to meet. If more people were meeting, they could face fines and penalties.
When the Government went ahead with the implementation of rules and safety measures relating to COVID-19 in the past, they understood that people would follow them. However, the Government now gave the police the right to implement the new rules, which meant that they were getting stricter about the spread of the virus and slowing or stopping it as best they could.
They also implemented rules about entering specific public locations without masks, checking proper temperatures, and many others. People had to make sure they were maintaining the right amount of social distance and only leaving their houses if they had to.
Only a certain number of people were allowed to visit some of the locations and places depending on the size of the venue. Hotels and restaurants were only functioning at a limited capacity, offices were only allowing a small number of people to come in, while the rest had to work remotely, depending on the office size.
With such a large number of people out of work, it only made sense for the companies and employers to get a little more serious with their hiring processes since a lot of the processes that were following in the past were no longer relevant. Companies were now working remotely for the most part, which meant they were coordinating their internal processes and client meetings online or virtually. The change also led to all meetings with the upper management coordinated remotely, which meant that they were hiring and recruiting while going through the process online.
When people were now joining a company, their employers or the HR team had in most cases, not met them in person, and they were coordinating online. The change led to a large number of companies in the UK, introducing mandatory background checks on the new staff coming in. They wanted to make sure that the people coming did not have a criminal background. Some jobs needed a tougher and more thorough check, depending on the job description and the level of the position. In some cases, the police have to get involved and provide a detailed police report mentioning the details in the list. There are other cases if they would be working with the young and the old, where they have to provide information on whether they had any misdemeanours relating to the young and old sections of society. They could not adapt to the changes or did not have enough experience to pivot into something else.
There were a lot of companies who could assist with the process of providing a background check and in many cases, they were coordinating with other departments since all the information could not be gathered at one place or department. A lot of the companies made sure the information was submitted at the time they were joining the company.