Why effective recruitment strategies are about retaining talent as much as attracting it

The traditional model for recruitment companies may have been to tick the box once a candidate is in place and move onto the next vacancy. But not anymore as Opus Practice Manager, Ben Griffiths, explains. 

My role as practice manager falls into 80% traditional recruitment and 20% in the client and candidate satisfaction area - and a huge part of that is about staff retention. You might think as our business is about getting people into roles, that keeping people happy in those roles afterwards is of no concern. But we’re not just about headcount needs, we’re also about improving the quality and retention of that headcount.

An effective onboarding process is cruical 

There are lots of ways we help businesses improve staff retention. One of the biggest is the onboarding process – that crucial first month or two when a candidate starts a job. The majority of people who leave a job in their first year do so within the first few months, so this is about settling people in effectively. It’s about both the business and the candidate knowing there’s an open channel of communication so any concerns can be voiced. The earlier you can identify a potential problem, the earlier you can help mitigate it. Obviously prior to joining the business there will have been an entry process including job descriptions and the like. But this is about the peoplenot the paperworkand ensuring everyone is happy continuously throughout those first few months rather than waiting for issues to arise.

Work life balance is an important factor in retaining top talent

Whilst there’s definitely things that we help clients with post day one of a candidate taking on the job – there are also things the client can do prior to day one of that candidate’s journey. The main issue here is around recognising the increasing importance of work life balance in recruiting and retaining talent.

We’re now reaching a time when candidates care more about things like flexible hours than they do about financial remuneration. The first question I used to get from my candidates was, ‘what’s the salary?’ Now, the first question is often, ‘will I have the chance to work from home?’ People are working to live now, rather than living to work and things like working from home, holiday allowance and flexitime are a huge part of that. Technology has advanced and things like Slack and Skype, mean people don’t need to physically be in the same room to work together. I think the technology is now further ahead than the culture of work in this country – and firms aren’t using it enough offer the culture employees are looking for.

Only last week I had someone turn down a £35,000 increase on their salary (from £40k to £75k) because they wouldn’t be able to keep their working from home routine. He had a young family, the role entailed commuting for two hours every day and for him, it just wasn’t right. I’d say the people who stay in their jobs the longest are the people whose work life balance is being met. In short, companies can no longer just add 10% to a salary and assume they’ll attract more people. Don’t get me wrong – that will help and there’s a big demographic of people that an increased salary will appeal to. But there’s also a totally untapped pool of candidates who won’t even consider you.

Failing to adapt will effect your ability to attract talent

Like any culture change, this is going to take time. A company can’t go overnight from having a 100% in-house workforce to allowing 30% to work from home. It needs to be a gentle transformation and I’ve seen companies do that very well. I’ve also seen more companies who don’t want to change and have a, ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ approach. I believe they will go through a systematic failure of talent retention because of this. There’s always a reason why you’re not keeping hold of your staff and if the culture and beliefs of your company won’t allow you to address that reason then you’re going to keep struggling. If you look globally at some of the companies renowned for the culture they offer – your Facebooks and Spotify’s, they’re less than 15 years old. Because they started in the digital age, they got that aspect of the culture right from day one. That doesn’t mean to say if your business is over 15 years old it can’t compete – but it will 100% need to adapt in order to stay competitive.

There are many benefits for a business taking staff retention seriously, not least the money saving aspect. If you’ve increased your staff retention and had to recruit 15 people this year rather than the 30 last year, you’ve halved your hiring costs. It will also improve your business. Generally the lower the staff turnover, the better the culture and therefore productivity and bottom line of your business.

Companies need to benchmark their recruitment package against competitors

When a company works with a talent partner like us, we’ll do an audit – quarterly or bi-annually of your benefits package outside of the salary. Obviously, as we work with hundreds of clients, we have a great understanding of what they are offering and can therefore advise on whether your package is outdated, on point or ahead of the game. It’s an inclusive part of the service we provide and is included in our recruitment fee. So to me, not using this service is like paying for a Sky Premium package and only ever watching terrestrial TV. It’s no good companies looking from within when it comes to things like salary and benefits – they need to benchmark against the rest of their market, and we have that information in the palm of our hands.

People can often roll their eyes at a recruitment company talking about retention because business wise, we obviously do well out of companies that are constantly hiring. But we’ve always sought to break the mould of what a recruitment company should be. We want to establish relationships that last for years, not be smash and grab. I’d rather be able to ring a candidate up and tell them about a job with a brilliant company who offer a great work life balance and culture and keep that person happily in that job for years, than coerce a candidate into something that I know they’ll leave after three months.

I have no doubt that for the majority of clients I work with – and even the ones that I don’t – I know why they are not attracting or retaining staff. And I’m more than happy to share this information – it’s just a phone call away!

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