Just a few months ago it was reported that the UK job market is at a record high of 76.2% with the lowest level of unemployment since 1974.
Add into the mix the fact that those in those in employment are changing jobs less often. Even millennials, once seen as constantly on the move with their portfolio careers and gig economy opportunities, are actually now switching roles far less than they used to.
So with UK employment booming and people sticking with what they know, the pressure of candidate shortage is not going to let up anytime soon. To make matters worse for recruiters, competition is fiercer than ever – with around eight and a half thousand new agencies having set up last year – more than a 200% increase in less than ten years.
The bottom line: recruitment businesses need to ensure they can operate as competitively as possible. But when margins are tight and candidates are in short supply, it’s a big ask.
So, what can be done?
Your people are your secret sauce.
At the risk of stating the obvious, recruitment is a people business and your own people are critical to your success. For your agency to succeed your people need to be high performers, top billers and excellent client hustlers.
Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo attested to exactly this in her, as ever, insightful presentation at Recruitment Agency Expo earlier this month.
“Your people are key to your growth strategy. Successful recruitment business are those which have a people strategy to attract, recruit, develop and engage people to fit their business now and throughout its growth.”
Hiring the right talent
1. ASPCo itself applies admirably uncompromising criteria when hiring its own people, with all new staff needing to demonstrate three essential characteristics, which are equally applicable to any recruitment company. These being energy, quality and impact.
2. Ann Swain went on to share words of wisdom with recruiters on how to make smarter hires:
3. Hire for the right attitude and fit – ensure your new staff are positive and resilient
Hire high performers – top qualities of high performers being problem solving, creativity and confidence in one’s own abilities. Hire people who’ll work hard for your recruitment business for the long-term. And always prioritise this over those who can earn you the most money fastest (as tempting as it may be) .
Retaining your talent
But the challenge goes beyond just finding first-class staff, with attrition cited as one of the biggest issues for recruiters – at 20% or as high as 33% for larger agencies.
The good news though is that this is in every company’s power to tackle. There’s reams of evidence proving the clear link between staff retention and employee experience. The Employee Experience Index cites the core factors of a positive employee experience as belonging, purpose, achievement, happiness and vigour. And if your staff are experiencing these factors it is proven they are less likely to leave – in fact 53% less likely, Globforce and IBM found.
As well as cultivating these feelings and creating employee experiences so your staff never want to leave, APSCo also shares advice on top people initiatives that many of its successful recruitment members have in place:
1. Create conditions for success (from training, mentoring programmes, personal development plans and helping people learn new things outside recruitment to strong market knowledge and leadership)
2. Develop specific expertise in client relationships and candidate sourcing through referrals
3. Retain people through culture, policies and reward
4. Look at rewards beyond staff socials and financial incentives (whether it’s time off or alternative experience-led rewards)
5. Support mental health – no longer the taboo it once was and now treated like a normal issue of daily life to be addressed rather than ignored or stigmatised
6. Get involved in CSR, environmental and charity initiatives – these show you genuinely care and finding the right cause can tie well into your values.
For your agency to get ahead your people need to be the best and at the top of their game, so make sure you’re investing in them as much as, if not more than, the candidates you place.