COVID-19: Keep Calm and Hire On

By Rob Kremer on 19 March 2020

Covid 19 Keep Calm And Hire On

A message to Australia's defence industry community – from 1.5 metres away


We have been speaking to many employers, candidates and contractors over the last few days and thought that we would share some of the things that we have learnt to help you all make the best decisions in these trying times.

Defence industry can’t shut down, and the coronavirus will pass. We have 2000 ADF people deployed overseas to support, cyber operations to maintain and significant acquisition programs with schedules that won’t bear delay. Defence and industry are working hard to adjust to circumstances and maintain productivity.

And from a candidate perspective, most companies have reiterated that they are still looking for great people to join them! They are certainly adapting their hiring processes and investing in technology and training to maintain capability.


We’ve heard plenty of solutions to keep productivity high while adhering to government advice on social distancing.

  • Plan for a full or partial work from home- having rostered working-from-home/in-office. This reduces the number of people sharing the office space but also ensures that workers are being looked after and not suffering from the social isolation of being stuck at home. Setting up remote workforces will involve testing technology to arrange for remote access, including setting up of Defence Remote Electronic Access and Mobility Services (DREAMS- there’s an app for that) for workers in a Defence environment.
  • Use of productivity platforms such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Zoom or Slack, to name a few. Use this opportunity to streamline your company’s casual and formal communications on your digital platforms.
  • Communicate regularly and openly to minimise the rumour mill. Communicate your intentions and allow your staff to be part of the story. And even if you don’t have the plans yet, let them know that they are downrange. It’s okay not to have all the answers – acknowledging that and being clear in what you are doing to get the answers is just as powerful.

Keeping the hiring process running

Companies still have deliverables to hit and are not planning on stopping hiring. Instead, they are looking at how they can modify their recruitment and on-boarding processes to remain competitive and productive.

  • Individuals are still looking for new jobs but are asking prospective employers what their business continuity plans are. Some of the businesses we have talked to are establishing COVID-19 management teams, who meet regularly (online) to assess the situation and make business recommendations.
  • Conduct initial interviews over the phone or Skype, Zoom, etc. (we will be releasing some tips on video interviewing best practices next week). Almost all of the businesses we have talked to have progressed to phone or video interviews.
  • When conducting in-person interviewing, keep the interview panel to the bare minimum. This may require extra preparation on behalf of the interviewers to make sure they’re prepared to ask/answer the right questions with a smaller panel. Have a dedicated space for interviews, and clean touch surfaces before and after.
  • Pivot the focus to ‘how’ and not ‘if’ you should onboard new starters. One company we spoke to is preparing reading packs for their scheduled new starters, documenting all the information people usually pick up by osmosis onsite so they can get started on the know-how from home. Another company is preparing to run virtual inductions online.
  • Consider hiring contractors at this time. With Friday night beers cancelled, you can lessen the emphasis on cultural fit, but still, get the people in that you need to keep it ticking over.


What’s next?

Adversity defines a relationship. Think about how you can treat your staff, your business partners, co-workers, contractors and your suppliers at this stressful time. This situation will pass, but the feelings on how we treat each other will last forever.

Spend time strategising – what will the conditions look like in six months? What will the cash flow be like, how will the deliverables change? What will this do to your work processes? Spend time red-team blue-teaming this stuff and then work backwards to find out what changes you need to make NOW.

Plan, communicate, don’t panic and wash your damn hands. Good luck!

By Rob Kremer

Photo by Claire Mueller on Unsplash

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