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Retain, don’t recruit – trust me, it’s the way ahead

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Recruiters, often quite rightly so, are regarded by many line managers as an enemy. We are seen to be the guys and girls who are trying to winkle your staff out of your business and shoehorn them into a competitor in order to make themselves money. However, believe it or not, we’re not all like that. Here, at Peace Recruitment, customer service is at the forefront of everything we do and that includes giving advice that may seem counter-intuitive. Yes, I know that’s a cliché, but it’s also true in this instance and, to demonstrate why, I want to explain why it’s important for recruiters like me to assist with staff retention rather than create staff turnover.

There are obvious reasons why retaining staff is paramount in terms of business continuity, customer service and, of course, maintaining revenue. Moreover things can get even worse: if you lose someone and then go and hire a dud to replace him or her, research by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation suggests that, based on an average middle-manager (on £42K per annum, the wrong hire can cost a business £132K). It’s much better to keep all your good people on board…

As you can imagine, a large part of my role is meeting and talking with candidates, usually when they are looking for a career move. A key task is then to ask them why they want to move. Their reasons are many and varied, but rather than rubbing my hands at the prospect of a fee, usually, my first response is to advise the candidate to discuss their concerns with their management. I also offer coaching on how to go about going that. While this might seem counter-intuitive for a recruiter, bear with me…

Sometimes, all that is needed is a simple chat and more understanding from both sides on what the important factors are when it comes to remuneration, benefits, career direction, job satisfaction and actually not making the move.  On other occasions a move may be either the only answer or a possibly the least bad out of a series of possible outcomes. If there is no resolution, then when the departure happens it should – and can - be conducted and managed in a professional, and generally pleasant, manner.  Even if the candidate feels that they must escape from some individual workplace hell, I usually counsel them never to say never as they don’t know whether their leap for the exit is actually straight out of the frying pan and into the fire.  

On the other side of the recruitment fence, when I’m called in by a client firm to help with a recruitment campaign, it’s refreshing to discover that the departure that has caused me to be summoned has been amicable and the reasons behind it are fully understood and appreciated.

My main area of work is in real estate and I’m quite lucky in that general practice is quite a diverse world and most people enjoy what they are doing.  All clients are better at retention now.  This is partly because the candidates are in the driving seat and a corollary of this is that the better-run firms are proactively seeking to retain key talent rather than just accepting that people get fed up and move on. Some of my bigger clients take their staff abroad for their annual conference, others provide the fruit and fun in the office that would previously have been frowned upon even three years ago, and almost all are just so much more aware of the need to provide flexible benefits. Gym membership is a big one for a lot of people (especially after the Christmas and New Year holiday!) and bike to work schemes are becoming more popular.

In short, people stay because they are well looked after, not because they are fed up.  But, but I hear you shouting at the screen, how do I make any money by persuading potential fee earning candidates to stay with their current employers?  Think about it, and trust me.

Craig Robertson, Manager, Peace Recruitment

 


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