Furloughed / Redundancy – How different are they?

It goes without saying that we are currently experiencing some of the toughest market conditions witnessed for many years. Having recruited and managed recruitment teams through two large scale recessions we understand how difficult this time can be for individuals and families who suddenly find themselves facing uncertainty. Over the last couple of weeks we have been contacted by a high number of recruiters seeking clarity on what furlough really means and what the future holds. Below are some thoughts and the questions we have been asking / advice we have been giving:

For those who are placed on furlough the first question is to understand why. Many businesses who are cash rich but facing a reduction in revenue for an indefinite time will be using furlough as it makes commercial sense to do so. They will continue to thrive. A second group will be cost cutting to ensure that for the next few months there is enough cash flow to keep as many current staff as possible. Leaving them in a good position to capitalise when the markets pick up. A last group will be using furlough as a pre-cursor to redundancy simply because they are over leveraged, and the business will not survive without making drastic cuts to costs. By the time the upturn in the market comes these businesses will have shrunk by as much as 50%. If you have been placed on furlough you need to think carefully about which one of these categories your employer falls into. 

If you are concerned about which category your employer falls into then you need to put yourself first and start to consider what other opportunities may be available.  Invariably a number of furloughed consultants will be made redundant come May or June as businesses realise the true extent of the financial downturn and additional cost cutting measures are introduced. If it takes until then for you to start to consider a job move, you may find it far harder to attain a role.

We anticipate a sharp rise in hiring once businesses have all of their workforce back in the office. But the majority of these positions will already have been recruited. Firms will pipeline talent over the next 2-3months to ensure they are in the best possible position to take advantage of conditions as they improve. Our advice is to therefore engage in initial conversations to give yourself the best possible chance should your company decide to make you redundant. 

Redundancy is therefore different to furlough now, but for many the outcome will be the same. We advise that if you have been made redundant, or put on furlough and have strong concerns about your future, be as proactive as possible. Don’t wait to hear the bad news. Don’t wait for a role to be advertised or someone to connect with you on Linked In. Connect and re-connect with past colleagues, speak to recruitment specialists and understand what options are the most suitable at this current time. Developing relationships during a downturn cannot be underestimated and even if they don’t initially lead to a job offer it is amazing how conversations shape careers.

It is understandable that many consultants will see these uncertain times as vindication for seeking a move in-house. The reality is that the inhouse market will be tough to transition into at a time of economic decline. Most businesses are going through the same issues, but it is often recruitment firms who can be more agile and capitalise on an upturn quicker.

A further thought, if you do enter the market for a new role do so with your eyes open. Think about the questions you need to ask to find the right firm. Reflect upon how well your own company communicated and treated its employees during this downturn. What was being said and what wasn’t.  There will be another downturn and you don’t want to find yourself in the same position.  

As recruitment to recruitment specialists, we are here to help and are happy to chat through any questions you may have. We wish you all well during these uncertain times.


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