The R-word


So the good news is the recession is over!!  We now find ourselves in a Job Creation market which is much more pleasing to the ear (especially as a recruiter!).  Apparently there will be 400,000 new jobs created this year across the UK which can only be a good thing. I’ve had to take my feet off the desk, packed away the crossword books, and dusted off my phone ready for action.

So is it going to affect you??  You may have no plans to grow or diversify, or may have a stable workforce, but don’t ignore this sweeping market change as you may be indirectly affected and it could have a serious impact on your business. Even those organisations who (allegedly) arranged a “non-recruiting” pact with their competition fell foul of the scrabble for available talent (read more here- Facebook poaching from Google).

Before the evil Recession word reared its ugly head, there was another R word in town- Retention.  Everyone was trying to find out how to keep hold of their talent, as they were worried that they might never find a suitable replacement.  As it happens, the former (recession) helped solve the latter (retention) for many as people stayed in jobs for the perceived security it offered.  Any staff leakage was often lead by the organisation who made redundancies whilst seeking to streamline and find efficiencies.  Staff retention activities fell further and further down the “To Do” list until they finally dropped off all together.

But the balance of power is swinging rapidly back to the side of the employee and if you don’t act now, you may find yourself having to find replacements for some of your best staff members.  IDS found that staff turnover in Social Housing & Care was 11.8% in 2013, and I expect that to increase markedly over the next few years as people get itchy feet, get brave or get headhunted!

As our survey discovered recently (See here), the drivers for employee satisfaction have changed as our workforce welcomes new generations.  What worked in the past, may not work now or in the future.  Do you have a clear and aspirational career path?  Are you dinosaurs when it comes to Social Media?  Do you shackle your employees with process and policies rather than offer the freedom to demonstrate innovation and intra-preneurship?

Don’t mistake the impact of recession for company loyalty.  You have to work hard to keep your best talent, and you can NEVER rest on your laurels- the moment you do, is the moment you’ll start to see your brilliant people walking out of the door and on to a new opportunity with a neighbouring organisation.

So its time to dust off your Staff Retention agenda, perhaps carry out a staff survey (we do a Great Places to Work survey every year which is a useful tool for constant reviewing of our conditions) and ask yourself,

“Why would I stay with this organisation?”

If you struggle to answer that question, I’d start updating your Job Descriptions, as you are probably going to need them soon!



Its not ACTUALLY all about you…


I don’t care what those McFly boys say.  Their harmonies may be tight and their hair may be funky, but their advice is not always on point.  They sang, “Its all about you”, but I disagree.  Now I don’t know all the words, so I can’t be sure if the main theme of the song was definately giving advice on the main consideration when designing a recrutiment campaign, but I can’t imagine what else a song would be about!!??!!

My work world is constantly changing and evolving.  There are so many more possible options to consider when recruiting, and so many different means to choose- newspaper, industry press, website, job boards, social media, or dare I say agency (I promise this isn’t a sell).  I’m not here to tell you what works best because it is horses for courses and each work well in different situations.

But what I ask is that you take a little time to make some considerations before you go down any of the tracks above.  Remember that you want to ATTRACT the best talent in the market, not REPEL them!

Everybody loves a list don’t they, so here are 5 things to think about:

1.  Consider what you are wanting to achieve

If you keep that at the forefront of your mind, you will achieve a better outcome.  If you are looking to penetrate a new market, you set your goals and vision and work out the path and milestones to achieve it.  Why not give the same consideration when looking to bring people into your business?  If you want someone who is gregarious and the role needs them to interact with a variety of different types of people, then don’t fire inane questions at them and mark their scores based on pre-determined answers you want to hear.  Equally, if you need an analytical type, then an assessment day is probably not the best way to sift out the gem!!  And the answer is definately not to use every type of assessment tool, and line them all up one after another until you have drained the life out of every applicant and know not only their strengths, weaknesses, development areas, motivators etc, but also the name of their first ever pet, the fact that their difficult upbringing has lead to their lack of confidence in large groups and their reason for dropping Religious Studies at GCSE.

2. Consider the recruitment process from the applicant point of view

Once you know what it is YOU want from this process, have a think about how you can make it a POSTIVE experience for THEM.  An interview process shouldn’t be dreaded, feared or an opportunity to go on a power trip.  It should…..don’t laugh… enjoyed, by both parties.  You are hopefully meeting a future colleague.  But those people that might not be right for this role, could be high fliers elsewhere in the business or within other business that you could work with in the future.  I think it was Jan Carlzon who said that every interaction with a customer was a “moment of truth”, an opportunity to dazzle, and this also applies to your recruitment process.  You are on trial as much as they are.  Applicants are customers and if a customer has a bad experience, you know they will be telling their friends about how bad an experience that interview was.

3. Don’t hide behind processes

Once you get too obsessed with processes, the main thing that is going to attract applicants is diluted or gone altogether.  Your business is your people- make sure you showcase it and show off how great an opportunity this is.  Don’t get caught up in bureacracy for bureacracies sake.  If you have certain hoops that simply have to be jumped through, then keep those lines of communication open with the candidate at all times.  They might not mind hanging around for a few days, if they know that will be the case, but if they hear nothing, this will only frustrate them and could lead to you losing them.

4. Know what you want

I had a case recently, which is probably the catalyst for this blog.  We had sent an outstanding applicant to a role as a Head of Service for a very good Housing Association.  There was an excellent match, and we had been given a verbal offer.  Then they decided to have a re-think about their structure and how the applicant would fit in with that.  They (including the Chief Exec) invited her in again to discuss the new structure and decided she would still be a great fit.  The over the weekend, they had a re-think and decided they might have another rethink on what they want, and she may not be right.  They invited her in again and decided perhaps it wasn’t right.  Then they had another change of heart and decided to set up a telephone conversation to discuss how she would fit.  Needless to say, the applicant decided that this perhaps wasn’t the sort of organisation she wanted to work with because she also has a choice in this process.  They lost out on a great applicant because they didn’t represent themselves in the right way, and seemed to be directionless and unable to make a decision…which actually isn’t the case.  they just chose to brainstorm DURING a recruitment process and infront of the applicant.

5. Remember the above

The power of the list is partially in its number and a list of 4 things doesn’t work, but 5 is so much better.  Plus, its always good to confirm things.

The market is changing again, and applicants are going to be back in the driving seat.  Ignore the applicant experience at your peril!