How is the Pandemic Affecting the Copier Channel?
How Have Industry Needs Shifted?
Copier Careers has worked with the Copier Channel for over thirty years and one of the most incredible things we’ve witnessed is the staying power of the independent dealership. From black-and-white analog copiers to today’s wide array of sophisticated business solutions, the Copier Channel has continually evolved to better serve today’s businesses. We’re currently facing a disruption on a global scale with challenges to both our personal and professional lives. The pandemic forces us all to change our practices and expectations and no one knows how it’s going to shake out yet. Our recruiters, however, are in daily contact with hundreds of industry professionals and leaders. Here are a few trends they’ve observed.
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First and foremost, there are a ton of displaced workers. March and April saw an historic employment reduction of 22.2 million workers in the US. Since then, we have used our monthly polls to track how the pandemic is affecting the Copier Channel. In April we polled 12.9 thousand and found 54% were still working full-time, 15% were working reduced hours, 17% were furloughed and 14% were let go. In July we polled another 19.5 thousand and found 46% were working full-time, 11% were working reduced hours, 20% were furloughed and 23% were unemployed.
Of those unemployed in July, only 57.5% said were actively job hunting. Anecdotally, our recruiters found many of those laid off in March and April were just too shocked and overwhelmed to start their job search right away. There is also a general perception that there just aren’t any jobs out there. Most are surprised to hear that employers are currently hiring (they are). These folks would entirely miss out on new employment opportunities if our recruiters didn’t find them. The good news is getting out though – we’ve had an increasing stream of candidates ready to discuss their options over the summer.
Similarly, people who were initially furloughed were often willing to wait for their employers to recall them. Unfortunately, those who are still furloughed are growing increasingly concerned they won’t be brought back to work. Some folks haven’t heard a peep from their employers since they were furloughed back in April – that’s more than four months of silence. We’ve heard a lot more from these abandoned people lately; many are still loyal to their employers but just unable to live in this limbo any longer.
Among the people actively on the job hunt, we’ve noticed a few trends. In general, candidates are more open to relocating for a new job. Moving doesn’t seem quite so daunting when your life is already disrupted. Many are also simply reevaluating where they want to live based on local events. More people are understandably looking for remote work position, particularly in sales roles. This might be for their health or for that of a family member or because they liked working remotely when given the chance.
But what about professionals who are currently working? For the most part, they recognize how lucky they are. Those who kept their jobs, were brought back from furlough or were recently hired are all displaying higher loyalty to their current employers. If they have a fairly stable job, they are unwilling to risk something new unless the opportunity is exceptional.
Leaders have had their work cut out for them since March. They’ve had to navigate this volatile landscape with no clear path forward. They’ve had to make tough choices for not just for the health and safety of their employees, customers and communities, but for the very future of their companies. We’ve spoken to many leaders heartbroken by layoffs, confused by furloughs, exhausted by financial aid paperwork, frustrated by supply shortages and stymied by countless other roadblocks.
We’ve also seen them step up and get creative. Leaders in the business solutions industry are already adept at adapting to shifting needs. We’ve seen them add sanitation and PPE to their office supply services, rig up health checkpoint kiosks, support the sudden surge for remote offices and more for their clients. These leaders have made their companies more essential to the modern office than ever before. These well-positioned, forward-thinking leaders are changing this difficult situation into an opportunity to grow.
If this surprises you, consider the current candidate pool. The shocking spring layoffs included highly-qualified employees who would never have been let go under normal circumstances. As we’ve been saying for years, the Copier Channel job market is extremely tight. The number one factor holding back company growth has been the supply of qualified personnel. Now, there are game-changing professionals out there looking for a company with a promising future. As a result, an increasing number of our clients are bulking up their technical, sales, office support, management and even executive rosters. These leaders are examining any potential weaknesses revealed by this sudden disruption, and shoring up key departments for future growth.
Among some leaders, this future-focus is inspiring an entirely different (and unexpected) trend. Particularly among senior executives and management, we’ve heard a similar refrain: “I saw this company through 9/11, through the Great Recession, through all the recent technological innovations – I’m just not up for yet another disruption. Let the next generation give it a go.” These leaders – who, pre-COVID, weren’t planning to retire for a few more years – are now actively looking for their own replacements.