FMCGs Big Opportunity – to leap or not to leap?

As we approach the end to the quarter and also, the end of the financial year for many businesses its really not the normal feeling of assessment of where the business is, where it is going & is the path we’re on the right one? Generally, there are lots of questions at this time of year but in 2020, those questions are very, very different. What we know is that the government is helping where it can to keep the wheels of the economy moving – assisting with measures such as furlough for the employed and self-employed, gives a period of greater parity in earnings for many workers who are affected by CV19 but will it be enough?

From a hiring perspective, we need to take a look into our short to medium term crystal ball (maybe it’s just a marble given the timeline!) and consider the impact of taking the ‘wait and see’ approach to the impact of CV19 within FMCG. We know that sales in most categories are up from a grocery / retail perspective and that the impact of fewer holidays, trips to a restaurant or bar, kids not going to school etc will mean it is likely there is more consumption to come over the next few months at least. So as bad as the current times are health-wise, we know some consumer goods businesses are out-performing the market yet, what we have seen in some situations, is some FMCG companies react with hesitancy and fear around hiring – ‘how will we interview?’, ‘will candidates want to take a job during a pandemic?’ or ‘how will we on-board / engage a new starter’, are all valid questions, however, I do think those businesses need to consider the impact of NOT hiring.

Let’s say you were intending to hire a Demand Planner or NAM today because of a vacancy in the team but you decide not to commence the search again until we return to the office & the ‘new normal’ goes back to being the old normal. Best estimates looking at a lot of the data/media on this seems to be a return to the office in June / July – pick a date, nobody knows.

What’s likely is that lockdown will continue in 2 /3 weeks chunks as no governments want to make a full commitment to an extended period of isolation – for social, fiscal and health reasons that just doesn’t make sense. So, we’ve peered back into that marble and we’re in mid-June, people have reacquainted themselves with where the photocopier is and we’re back to hiring – the sun is shining, kids are soon to be off school for the Summer and people have been locked up for 3 months…….. are they of a mind to leave their role now? It’s safe, their business kept them on during a downturn – will they turn there back on the employer who didn’t cut their pay or make them redundant? Sure, some will but many will kick that particular can down the road until September / October as least. So, your traditional hiring process of 4 – 6 weeks, may end up stretching to 8 – 12 weeks with the right candidate potentially on a 3 month notice period……… the maths on this means a job you have today, may well not be filled until January 2021 so then the real question is, ‘as a hiring manager, are you prepared to do the work of 2 people for the next 9 months?’

Back to my main barriers to hiring (above) – all of these things are being dealt with by dynamic businesses and business people across the globe & many, many internal roles / international moves happen via Skype / Zoom interviews outside of these surreal times.

Sure, onboarding remotely is a bit different and not ideal but we can be sure it’s a short term solution and again, if you consider our process – 4 – 6 weeks to hire and then a notice of up to 3 months……. Remote onboarding is unlikely to be an issue.

Lastly and I think this is the most important point – the talent is there now. Straight away. Ready & waiting to take a great opportunity. A business that is hiring today, sends a message of a strong, confident company that is taking the opportunity to hire the best in the market at a time where others don’t make the leap AND in FMCG there should be many more of those than in many other sectors.

Much is made of how opportunities arise in times of challenge – this is the hiring opportunity, are you going to take it or switch back to Netflix?