COVID19 has transformed the Canadian employment landscape raising the unemployment rate and changing expectations. Many workers continue to face furloughs and lay-offs, while employers defer new hiring and are reassessing their workforce strategies. The COVID19 imposed lockdown has resulted in severe economic consequences including the loss of nearly 2 million jobs in April last year.
All this may seem daunting and as a candidate looking for work you may be asking yourself: what is the likelihood of being hired right now? While it may be a bit harder to find them, opportunities still exist, and you should continue to job hunt with the same ferocity as you normally would.
Here are some pro tips for job hunting during the pandemic:
1. Stay ahead of the competition If more people decide to re-enter the workforce once the market recovers, competition will get fiercer. Get a head start by applying for available jobs and building relationships with different employers who may not be hiring just yet. Continue to build your personal brand and reach out to your network to let them know that you’re on the hunt.
2. Be more flexible Roles that you were interested in before the pandemic may no longer exist or have to be performed differently now. Be open to working in new industries and applying for different roles, positions you may not have considered before such as part-time or contract work, just to get your foot in the door.
3. Leverage your tech skills Companies are relying more on technologies simply because the shift to remote work has forced them to do so. They are more likely to hire adaptable, technologically savvy, team players with a growth mindset. Take this time to improve your tech skills and familiarize yourself with a wide range of digital platforms that businesses use.
Connect with our recruiting experts who can help you uncover opportunities and who have the inside scoop into many unadvertised jobs. Partnering with a recruitment agency comes at no cost to you but will provide you with the added horsepower to find work during a time when it’s less easy to do so.
Remote work, while being recognized as more mainstream, especially now, is not suitable for everyone. It takes a certain type of person to work effectively away from an office setting. Independence, good time management skills, resourcefulness, and trustworthiness are some qualities an employer should seek in a candidate applying for a remote role.
So how can you determine whether a candidate will succeed at teleworking? Consider asking these 3 key questions during an interview to help assess for remote suitability.
How do you prioritize tasks?
It’s important to know that the candidate can distinguish between important and less important tasks and make the call independently as to which ones go to the top of the list. Ask about what strategies they use to assess their workload and keep track of their progress as well as how they structure their workday. If the candidate needs a lot of direction from their manager to organize tasks and requires frequent checking-in to ensure that they are focussing on the right things, working remotely might prove challenging.
What makes you an effective communicator?
In an office setting people can constantly see you so it’s much easier to share your thoughts spontaneously and engage others in conversation. And while there are many different technologies that companies can implement to help facilitate collaboration and inclusiveness, making your voice heard as a remote employee is often a challenge and could potentially lead to disengagement. You want to make sure that the candidate is comfortable reaching out to others and initiating conversations, that they can leverage collaborative technologies to their full potential, and that they can communicate their ideas clearly, without hesitation.
How do you maintain work-life balance?
Many of us who have worked from home regularly for an extended period of time can attest to the fact that it is easy to blur the line between professional and personal life. While remote work offers more flexibility in daily schedules, it is easy and sometimes even tempting to keep on working beyond allotted work hours, eventually leading to burnout. You want to make sure that the candidate is cognizant of this fact and that they have strategies in place to help them work most efficiently without jeopardizing their mental health.
Currently almost 40% of Canadian employees are working remotely due the COVID19 outbreak. If given a choice, 80% of employees would prefer to continue working from home at least some days of the week, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Employees consider remote work as their ideal work scenario because it leads to greater work-life balance and increases productivity levels. But managing a remote team is not always easy. Managers struggle with feeling of decreased control over their team, monitoring challenges, and problem solving.
Here are some tips to help leaders become better remote workforce managers:
1. Communicate Frequently: Keep your team engaged and connected on a daily basis. Utilizing communication channels and collaboration software is a great way to build and retain engagement. Schedule regular check-ins via video meetings to ensure inclusivity and provide opportunities for employees to raise any issues. Make sure to develop and communicate appropriate work-from home guidelines that define expectations. Just as you would at the office, encourage collaboration on projects and regular feedback.
2. Be Flexible: Regular work hours might be difficult to impose especially under the current circumstances where many kids are at home with their parents. Recognize that this is an un-ordinarily challenging time for many of your employees and being rigid will do more harm than good. Trust your team and provide them with flexibility to work on a schedule that helps them be the most productive. If productivity becomes an issue, especially with an employee that has always been outstanding at their work, learn what is causing this decrease, and work together to develop a solution to get back on track.
3. Set Your Team Up for Success: Remote team collaboration is highly dependent on reliable technology. Ensure that your team has access to appropriate resources and equipment to help them get their work done effectively and to work well together. Also provide your team with sufficient IT support should something go wrong. Remind your team to take breaks and take good care of themselves, physically and mentally. Develop strategies to keep motivation up such as rewards or positive feedback.
1. Avoid Video Calls: Digital tools have made remote communication convenient, but that does not guarantee effectiveness. Face-to-face interactions are extremely important to understand non-verbal cues and develop reactions based on what you see, rather than what you read or hear. In addition to emails and texts, managers should incorporate adequate face-to-face communication in their daily routine.
2. Focus On Control: Sometimes managers tend to focus too much on controlling scenarios and how work is performed. This creates a hostile environment for employees, who may already be feeling the pressure of a new way of working. Trust your team and focus on the outcomes, not processes.
3. Lose Company Culture & Connectivity: Remember staying well into the evening, eating pizza with your colleagues, working on that milestone project? Or popping your head into your co-worker’s office to bounce some ideas off of them? This is part of what builds a strong corporate culture and binds people together. Try to translate traditional office activities into your new virtual setting. Organize in-person team gatherings at least once a month, bringing everyone together to reconnect in person.
In 2018, nearly 70 per cent of Canadians said they would prefer a compressed four-day work week, rather than a five-day work week, according to an Angus Reid poll. Not much has changed since then. Many leaders, in fact, are now weighing the opportunity of utilizing a compressed work structure to rebuild the current economy.
We surveyed our LinkedIn audience about the benefits of a four-day work week, and the results were not surprising. 54 per cent of the respondents claimed that it would bring in greater work-life balance, while 34 percent suggested that it would increase productivity.
So here’s the big question: are businesses and government organizations equipped to embrace a four-day work week? This idea is compelling and feasible but it requires thorough evaluation and strategic execution.
1. Who Would Benefit? Companies should consider which demographic of people would benefit the most from a compressed work week. Some believe that a 4-day work week would best suit people who are in their 50’s and 60’s. This economically influential generation can make use of an extra day off by attending to tasks that are being put off such as doctor’s appointments, spending time with loved ones or pursuing a new passion. On the other hand, millennials and gen Z’s are more focused on shaping work priorities in ways that fit their daily lives, which includes remote work or a compressed work week.
2. Establishing A Trial Period: A four-day work structure is highly dependent on business and employee needs. Employees are drawn towards companies that offer flexibility and with a four-day work week concept, companies can become more desirable to job seekers. Perhaps doing a trial run for a couple of months and monitoring productivity and employee satisfaction is a good beginning point. In 2018, New Zealand’s Perpetual Guardian, a trust management company, tested this compressed work structure for 2 months with 240 team members. Productivity levels increased by 20 per cent and employee stress levels reduced by 7 per cent. Similarly, in August 2019, Microsoft Japan experimented this concept with it’s Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer Program, giving 2,300 employees five Fridays off without a pay decrease and a 40 per cent increase in productivity.
3. Assessing Business Operations: To evaluate whether a 4-day work concept is suitable for a company, leadership teams need to start by understanding their work culture and make decisions around the seasonality of their business. For instance, in California, an employee is entitled to over-time pay after eight hours of work a day. This means a non-exempt employee on a four-day work week would be receiving eight hours of overtime pay every week, if companies move to a 4 day, 40 work hours scenario.
4. Stakeholder Evaluation: Businesses should examine the impact of a four-day work week structure on its stakeholders on both sides of the value chain. Will companies lose valuable business by not being available five days of the week? If your clients/vendors operate on a traditional work schedule, but your team is working a compressed week, how is this going to impact coordination and ultimately productivity? Be prepared for the challenges associated with a compressed work week and plan accordingly to mitigate any issues.
A three-day weekend sounds great, but it may not be suitable for everyone and every business. There are certainly pros and cons to doing this. Will it become a new normal of employment? Perhaps. But it will likely happen in stages and require a widespread change in attitude.
Remote work is reshaping the future of employment, inclusive of finance roles. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Confidence Index, 83 percent of Finance professionals claim that they can be individually effective when working remotely while 82 percent felt the entire industry could be remotely effective. Which is not surprising considering that many finance tasks do not require frequent interaction between people. Are virtual accounting teams then the way of the future? Maybe so. Companies shouldn’t dismiss the idea.
We put together a list of pros and cons for employing a virtual finance and accounting team, to help get the conversation started:
Real-Time Access To Accounts: Cloud-based accounting software such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, WaveandXero and file hosting platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox have enabled accounting teams to work remotely and share financial data easily. Leadership teams can access up-to date financial reports in a timely manner and can be sure to achieve higher data accuracy because of the multiple eyes on the books. Real-time access to accounts also allows for data-driven decision making.
Flexible Hiring: Virtual accounting professionals can be more easily hired on an as needed basis and are unrestricted by geography thus expanding your talent pool. Since accounting and bookkeeping needs can vary from one financial period to another, companies can hire contract/temporary accounting professionals to work on specific projects for a certain number of hours without the hassle of setting them up in a physical setting.
Cost Savings: With virtual accounting teams,companies can benefit from reduced overhead costs, like paying for extra office space and supplies to accommodate additional hires, especially ones that come on board for a temporary period to help with project needs. There is also potential to save costs on computers if you allow your remote team to use personal devices.
Limited Control: Managers could feel that a certain degree of control has been lost with virtual teams. Therefore, it is important to maintain consistent communication and conduct regular check-ins to keep a tab on the company’s finances.
Poor Coordination: If your accounting team requires on-site collaboration with other departments or needs access to in-house systems to carry out specific functions, going virtual might result in poor coordination and hinder productivity.
Data Security Threats: As company’s leverage cloud-based technologies for remote data access, it becomes easier for hackers to misuse sensitive financial information. Safeguarding financial information beyond the bounds of a company’s internal network is crucial. Virtual accounting teams should consider implementing multi-factor authentication to ensure that confidential information is not being compromised at any cost.
Reaching out to your network through emails, texts or calls has never been more important than now. Pre-pandemic, networking events were held at specific venues but now these have shifted to online mediums. COVID19 has changed the way people connect, but that doesn’t mean that networking or nurturing of relationships should stop.
Here are few tips to help you strengthen your network amidst social distancing:
1. Strategic Online Networking: With in-person meetings and professional events off the calendar for a little while now, make the most use of online networking platforms such as LinkedIn, or even registering for webinars and podcasts that interest you. Spend time connecting with professionals that share similar interests and or those who work within the same industry.
2. Re-engage Existing Contacts: Building a genuine network involves checking in on your existing network, be it your ex-colleague or previous employer. Think about the various touchpoints and how you can proactively reach out to them. Connect with your strongest allies and let them know what you’re looking for: it could be a new job, investment ideas or career advice.
3. Personalize Your Communication: This is the right time for you to lead and engage your connections with personalized communication. Engage in relevant and meaningful conversations that you would be happy to receive. It could be as simple as wishing your ex-colleague ‘Happy Birthday’ or congratulating someone on completing a one-year work anniversary. These gestures will help you in building stronger connections.
4. Practice Empathy: Everyone is dealing with COVID19 related anxiety and isolation in some way or another. When approaching someone that has been affected by this crisis, it is important to extend empathy and reaffirm that things will get better.
5. Leverage LinkedIn:LinkedIn recently introduced a quick and easy way to solicit feedback from your network via ‘LinkedIn polls’. This is a great feature to spark new conversations, receive relevant input and have informed discussions with your connections. Use this downtime to work on your LinkedIn profile, update your work history, request recommendations from previous employers/mentors and start sharing authentic content with your connections and those who are not within your network.
Remote work life has become the ‘new normal’ for most of us. Staff Accounting, Bookkeeper, Accounting Clerk and Coordinator are some of the fastest growing Finance & Accounting job categories in the work from home landscape. Cloud-based technologies and collaborative platforms have enabled smooth remote work transition for companies and have allowed employees to experience the power of utilizing data in the cloud.
1. Reduces Business Costs Hiring remote workers can result in significant business savings -office expenses, including infrastructure, utilities and supplies. Additionally, not all employees that work around the 9-5 clock are productive, resulting in more time wasted. With remote workers, hours billed = hours worked.
The world might never be the same again as this remote working mandate takes over our traditional 9-5 regime. Remote work benefits employees and does wonders for businesses as well. At PTC we connect you with F&A, Administrative and Human Resources professionals who can work remotely.
Even under these unprecedented circumstances, some businesses are continuing to operate smoothly. What’s their secret? They acknowledge the challenges and also focus on the opportunities to make their company more resilient.
We offer 5 important strategies for businesses on a mission to stay alive, stay relevant, and come out of this pandemic less harmed:
2. Consider contract employment – Contract employment gives businesses the freedom to “hire talent on-demand”. The flexibility and scalability of contract staffing allows businesses to achieve their long-term and short-term growth targets, which makes this staffing solution ideal for challenging economic times.
3. Keep communicating with & supporting your employees – It becomes extremely crucial to calm and reassure your workforce during such uncertain times. Employers must encourage upskilling, boost morale with special incentives and schedule regular video calls etc to maintain your teams momentum.
4. Plan for the future – Use this decrease in pace to re-evaluate and identify new business opportunities. Start building new connections, growing your social media presence and developing a strong comprehensive plan for COVID19 recovery.
5. Support your client base – Show your clients that you are here for them, and that you care about them. Avoid pushing for sales and take the time to listen to their concerns. Strengthen existing relationships by providing solutions that will appeal to them and that are relevant under existing circumstances. It is important to be recognize and plan that your customers’ requirements might change post COVID19.
It’s important for businesses to be adaptable and open to change. Post COVID-19 the world will likely be a different place, at least for the next little while, and businesses that are set up to adapt to the “new normal” will have the competitive advantage.
In order to remain competitive, to reduce overhead costs and to manage cash flows in such uncertain times, hiring temporary employees proves to be a cost-effective solution. Temporary employees work on specific projects for certain number of hours. If your business is seeking short-term support or requires additional help to manage workload due to unexpected external variables, hiring contract workers is ideal.
Temporary and contract workers are equipped with specialized skill sets and hone a wide range of industry knowledge and experience. As a result, they are well-armed to fill skill gaps within an organization, allowing for businesses to continue with smooth operations.
Shorter Hiring Process
Businesses turn to contract workforce solutions because they benefit from a shorter hiring process. Contractors are experienced with time-sensitive projects and are often available to start immediately, once hired.
Contract To Hire
Hiring contractors is a great way for companies to test the waters and assess cultural fit. Companies get to work with contractors for a definitive period of time, allowing them to evaluate their skills and performance without having the pressure to commit to permanent employment.
Increase Talent Pool
Given this economic climate, many experienced candidates find themselves either unemployed or underemployed. Companies should use this opportunity to conduct a thorough ‘candidate market’ assessment and expand their talent pool to meet future workforce demand once the crisis settles.
We would like to share some tips for staying on track and remaining optimistic as you find yourself stuck at home, isolated and/or frustrated, and with much more time on your hands than you were used to:
Keep job searching: Stay positive and recognize that this is a temporary setback. While getting back out there with an aggressive job search and networking agenda right now might be tricky due to office closures and social distancing, keep moving ahead and don’t stop looking for opportunities. Hiring may have slowed in many industries but hiring managers and staffing firms are building a pipeline of talent at all times. Reach out to them and pitch what you have to offer.
Hone your skills:Use this time to update your skills as well as learn some new things. Research which skills are most valuable to employers in your industry and sign up for online classes or free tutorials. There are also many charitable organizations who can use a helping hand right now. Volunteering is a good way to gain some hands-on experience in a different capacity and will help to fill the employment gap in your resume.
Grow your network: This might seem an impossible task in today’s world of social distancing and isolation, but growing your network is still achievable. Join a webinar and interact with the participants and/or presenters, engage in conversations by email or phone, and connect with new groups on social media. Start with your existing network and devise a plan for how you can build out. Because many opportunities go unadvertised, having a strong network is very helpful.
Connect with a staffing firm: We don’t bite. In fact, our recruiters can help you assess your skills, provide tips on best resume writing practices, and talk you through the necessary steps for finding a new job, all without any cost to you. Think of us as your support system during this time. Friends and family can offer sympathy, but we will take charge and set you on a course to a new career opportunity.
Losing a job is never easy. Companies are having to make difficult decisions during this time and employee layoffs are unfortunately the consequence of having to cut back on operations and expenses. No matter what your personal situation is, try to remain motivated and set yourself up for job search success for after everything returns to normal.
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