We're all a bit fatigued after a full year of the Pandemic. There's been so much bad news everywhere we turn.
The team here at Drogheda Chamber have supported and celebrated the resilience, creativity and courage of our entrepreneurs over the last year. And now it's time to celebrate those that have been nimble in adapting to the changing situation. Those that have pivoted. That have used the lockdowns as opportunities to future fit and develop their businesses further.
Over the coming weeks we will interview some of these businesses and share some of the positivity and good news that we see.
This week we are talking with Shona MacManus - from Osborne.
Tell us about your pre pandemic Business status
SM: Osborne is an award-winning Irish recruitment firm and we've been operating since 1996. We are a multi-disciplinary and multi-location recruitment and talent solutions consultancy operating across Ireland and internationally, offering temporary, contract, permanent, project and onsite recruitment solutions. We have recruitment specialist teams in Administration, Accountancy and Finance, Sales, Manufacturing, Healthcare, IT, Technical and Engineering, Commercial as well as Executive, Legal, Human Resources and Senior Appointments. Celebrating our 25th year in business in 2021, since the company came under new ownership in 2013, Osborne has experienced a significant period of strategic growth in terms of employees, office locations and turnover. In addition to our Head office in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2, we now have operations in Blanchardstown - Dublin 15, Sandyford - Dublin 18, Drogheda - Co Louth, Cork City, Bray - Co Wicklow, Naas – Co Kildare and our first international office in Toronto Canada.
What was the initial impact on your business & how did you react?
SM: Like most business we were watching carefully as the reality of the impact of covid was starting to unfold. As an organisation whose team had never worked remotely we successfully relocated nearly 60 staff members to working from the safety of their homes within 48hrs. This involved redeployment of technology and in some instances office furniture to our teams to ensure that we were able to provide a seamless service to our clients all the while having the safety of our team at the forefront. We also a manged to configure a safe working environment for our accounts department to remain on site providing an essential service. The initial impact of covid saw a severe retraction in the number of clients who were actively recruiting with the overwhelming sense of uncertainty of the initial stages of the first lockdown never felt before.
What changes did you make in order to cope or pivot / and to adapt to the situation?
SM: We reviewed the markets current state as a leadership team and devised a clear plan for the business in order to ensure that we could drive through the pandemic whilst supporting our employees, our client’ and candidate’s. Our priorities were always to ensure that everyone on the Osborne team continued to have a job. We were determined to do everything to ensure that we would not have to implement a program of compulsory redundancies. We reassessed our business plans and pivoted into Healthcare with our team working tirelessly with clients within the public and private sector to source essential frontline workers to provide care for some of the most vulnerable in our society. That experience filled us with a huge sense of pride and purpose knowing our actions were helping in the fight to save people’s lives during this pandemic.
We also increased our Outplacement Services, having been approached by several business who were left with no option but to make some of their employees redundant. We worked closely with those individuals to provide them with career guidance, aid in the preparation of their CV’s, provide them with key tools to use for their job search, preparing them for interviews and ultimately securing them new jobs and in some instances help them themselves pivot their careers in a new direction. The pandemic affected some industries more than others and we also set up a sister company Osborne Career Consultants to work with individuals to help them get a step on the employment ladder once again.
While our team worked remotely, we also took many of our key services online, transitioning our breakfast briefings to virtual webinars, joined in some instances with strategic partners presenting our clients the most up to date information that was available in the marketplace at any one time pertaining to recruitment, employment law, resilience and driving high performing teams.
Osborne have grown throughout the pandemic not only in our services but in our numbers, by the end of Q4 this year we will have well surpassed our pre-covid staffing figures. Our office in Drogheda, for example is in the process of taking on extra office space. This move is not only to allow for us to adhere to covid guidelines but because our team itself is growing at a considerable pace due to the demand of our clients and candidate’s.
What supports, grants, aids helped the most?
SM: Throughout our business we have always believed in building strong local networks. We relied on these relationships and supports considerably especially at the beginning of Covid to help us quickly establish what was going on in the markets, to identify our strategic focus and to learn of what government supports were available to us and we engaged heavily with our local Chamber’s, LEO offices and other organisations such a Great Place To Work being a certified Great Place to Work company. We also shared our own market knowledge and data via client webinars online with our clients, often partnering with our strategic partners such as Adare Human Resources delivering webinars on topical HR matters such as redundancies and back to work protocols.
How are you feeling about business as we begin to plan to emerge from the lockdowns, and as vaccinations roll out?
SM: Very positive about the future and also hugely motivated and excited in all the innovation and change we see around us. We are also already starting to see a huge increase in the demand for staffing amongst our client base. In a recent survey we conducted nearly 60% of clients had plans to increase their headcount over the next 6 months. As mentioned above we are growing out our team currently and will have surpassed our pre-covid staffing levels which is a huge achievement not only for the leadership team but for all Osbornites who worked so hard throughout the pandemic to ensure that they provided the highest levels of services to their clients and to their candidates.
We are excited about the future and the opportunities in front of us and we have ambitious yet realistic growth strategies in place for the remainder of 2021 and 2022 and beyond. This year will see Osborne opening up some new operations adding to the 8 operations we currently have in Ireland and Internationally. As a result of covid we now have clients in new areas within essential services and other new sectors including an increased recruitment into healthcare.
Finally … What's your top piece of advice for other businesses?
SM: We operate our business on the premise of open honest communication not just with our teams, but with our clients and our candidates at all times. Our advice would be to keep those lines of communications firmly open as we continue to go through this stressful time and also while planning and implementing your return to the office. We believe that you can never underestimate the power of communication with all stakeholders in your business to develop and solidify longstanding relationships. We would also advise any business owner out there to reach out their local networks, to speak with their local Chamber. And we have a fantastic Chamber here in Drogheda who provide infinite support to the local business community. Also speak with your LEO offices or perhaps Enterprise Ireland or the IDA. Lean into these organisations for critical support and information to help drive out your business. And finally, ramp up on developing, training and upskilling your people and yourself to keep motivation and ideas flowing and enjoy this learning journey we are all on going through so much change. Now more then ever this is required to spark new ideas and help drive our businesses to the next level and there are so much government subsidised training available in all areas that cost shouldn’t be a stopping factor for example your local ETB, LEO offices, Enterprise Ireland and Skillnet. Specifically in the Drogheda area there is the M1 Skillnet that offers a huge range of scheduled and company specific subsidised training So never stop learning and developing , we can never know enough especially in such a fast paced changing market out there.
If you'd like to be featured in this series - We'd love to hear from you @Drogheda & District Chamber.