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On the 14th of March 2020, I attended my father’s 60th birthday party. This involved a) interstate travel, b) spending interminable hours on a packed V-Line bus, c) visiting my mother – a nurse – in her workplace, d) socialising with over 70 people in an indoor facility, and e) blowing out candles on a birthday cake, which was then circulated amongst the party attendees.

Who would have thought – a mere two and a half months later – all of those things would no longer be possible…

To say Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our lives is one of the more understated points to be made about 2020. While saluting the incredible work of our medical professionals on the front line of the crisis, we have grown accustomed to seeing a near-universal downsizing of staff numbers across a wide range of organisations and industries.

In early March, Sensei conducted an analysis of the work being completed by our delivery teams. We determined that a majority of our active and commencing engagements could continue – and be completed – remotely. Furthermore, our clients’ drive for productivity solutions and gaining efficiencies across work management, was not dissipating, and in fact, could be considered more important in an ever-changing work landscape. Even in the event of a slowdown within certain industries, Sensei’s growth strategy, and our ambitions for the future, remain aggressive. An investment in the short term could pay considerable dividends down the track if we have the ideal workforce already in place when industries begin ramping-up potential investments in productivity solutions.

For that reason, Sensei continued with its – already considerable – recruitment efforts. In the last two months, we’ve advertised 14 roles across 6 teams in 4 states. In what was a bittersweet result from a recruiter’s perspective, the volume of applications for these roles was considerable. Where before, a particular role may generate a couple dozen applications, we were now seeing triple figures for the same role. Where before, a role might take a couple of months to fill, we were able to bring someone on board within 7-10 days.

To that end, over the last 9 weeks, Sensei Project Solutions has been fortunate enough to welcome 8 team members into our ranks (7 newbies, and 1 returning veteran of Sensei). I’m happy to report that these new (and returning) team members have already had a considerable impact on Sensei, and can absolutely be regarded as part of the Sensei family.

“It was quite daunting to switch jobs amid COVID-19, however, Sensei’s prompt and smooth recruitment process gave me the confidence to make the move. After being with Sensei for only two weeks, I’m already across most internal business processes and activities, which makes me feel integrated with the team at an impressive pace.” Hasan Ali Tariq, Test Engineer, Sensei

“I had 3 interviews all up, one over the phone and two (virtual) face to face interviews using MS Teams. I found the interview process ran quite smoothly, the fact that they were all online was great as I didn’t have to worry about travelling to any unfamiliar destinations which allowed me to focus my time on preparing for the interviews.” Hayden Passmore, Junior Solutions Consultant, Sensei

But – in what was a challenge posed by Covid-19 – we needed to ask and answer the question: how do we onboard individuals into our team, whilst respecting social distancing guidelines and social isolation restrictions?

Our management team stood up and invested their personal time in a) acquiring devices for their new starters, b) driving/walking around the device to their new starter’s house after hours, c) calling them on their first morning to talk them through the technical aspects of their machine setup and systems access, and then d) conducting their induction activities via Microsoft Teams video conference.

The result has been incredibly positive. Our new starters have had a smooth beginning to their time with Sensei and were in a position to contribute to our active projects and start (virtual) meetings with our clients and their new colleagues, all within the same timeframes as what we were able to do so prior.

“I joined Sensei just as lockdown was starting and things looked very uncertain. Having worked with some of the Sensei team before, one thing I expected was regular updates, communication and lots of it…and I was not wrong! You will never be kept in the dark, there is openness at all levels from your team and branch to the board. We’re busy…and ways of working are certainly different…but there is still a focus on professional & personal induction and regular check-ins to make sure all is going well.” Barry Cairns, PPM Consultant, Sensei

“Whilst we have been living in unknown and uncertain times over the last month and a half, my onboarding experience with Sensei has been anything but that! I have felt extremely welcomed and supported by the team and really appreciate all those who have gone out of their way to ensure my smooth transition. Now I just can’t wait to get into the office and meet my colleagues face to face!” Alice Mason, Marketing Graduate, Sensei

My advice to potential employers would be as follows: A. Revisit your recruitment strategy for the next 6-12 months. B. If you can, bring the timeframe to recruit forward as a means of appealing to a wider candidate pool of potential interviewees and securing talent for your organisation’s future growth. C. Map out a process for onboarding your new staff members, taking into consideration the technical requirements, as well as the social and procedural aspects, of a standard onboarding, and consider an approach that respects the social distancing and potential isolation requirements of our modern world. D. Finally, don’t forget to be especially compassionate throughout all recruitment efforts at this time by getting back to interviewees (both successful and unsuccessful) in as short a timeframe as possible.

In the meantime, let us all look forward to a time where an overcrowded V-Line bus, or counting the candles on a birthday cake, are our only concerns of the day!

By Ashley Braybon

General Manager – Operations

Sensei GM of Operations, Ashley Braybon, has over 11 years of experience in the IT management and professional services industry. Based out of our Melbourne office, Ashley’s key areas of expertise are HR and recruitment, people and culture initiatives, commercial agreements, sales and project administration, financial reporting, and process ownership and improvement. He aims to ensure all Sensei staff are given every opportunity to do their jobs better, thereby providing a higher quality of service to our clients.

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