Employee Referrals…yes… yes… no!

ER (TV series)

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A client was explaining to me last week about their 87% direct vacancy fill rate. About half of this was from Employee Referrals. I applaud their efforts and that is a great statistic to evidence their effectiveness.

Yes, I agree that Employee Referrals are a fantastic source of quality candidates.

Yes, I suggest that all organisations should have an Employee Referral programme.

No, it’s not the panacea so make sure you know what you are looking for… let me explain!

The best corporate recruitment advisor that I have ever met is a guy called Alfonso Nunez. He is currently working with RPO Group in Australia. He has a great mind for deep analysis of the business impacts related to how an organisation recruits and he once told me a great story.

The upshot of this story… He was investigating why this particular national sales organisation was not performing to expectation. They had very low staff turnover, low cost per hire and almost no problem recruiting for growth based on a very successful Employee Referral scheme. I can’t do his work justice here but in essence he was able to identify and show that the very success they were claiming in the success of their ER scheme was the root cause of their performance dissatisfaction. He found that the ER scheme was creating a culture of like-minded, mediocre performers whilst the competitors were hiring a new breed of sales people, more relevant and full of diversity. The competitors were changing and winning! His company was full of mates and their mates but were losing!

Therefore the lesson I took out of Alfy’s work was a cautionary note about Employee Referrals. If you need culture change you may need to change the people! Watch out for the like attract like syndrome.

You should have an Employee Referral programme but its one source of hire to be used in balance, not the panacea!

Nice work Alfy!

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Performance Expectations must be higher!

Winston Churchill in Downing Street giving his...

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Raise the expectation on your recruitment teams and raise the expectation on your clients. 

Both these tactics lead to better quality and better billing! Both these tactics are the right manuevers as demand overtakes supply in our markets.

The next 12-18 months is not the time for conservative leadership. All our conversations should be aimed at high expectations and outcomes both internally and externally. I don’t mean blind faith, I mean clearly defined, focussed goals that commit all parties to great outcomes.

I’ve been watching the rise and rise of one team in particular in our group, Momentum Auckland, and how their individual and collective results keep soaring. They have a high level of retained assignments illustrating committed clients and they have a large number of very high performing consultants illustrating competent goal driven recruiters.

This team is operating in a market that got smashed in the midst of the GFC yet high expectations are being set and met!

Good on you lot… I think a great example for all of us leading recruitment teams!

And here is a very cool statistic … the job order book has gone from 5% to 52% exclusive retained over 18 months… I just wish I could claim it!

Multi-listed contingent recruitment will stop!

Yes I believe it… I am pleased to say that a major international has just agreed to this very mantra and for all the right reasons.

Throughout a normal process of an RFP for a preferred supplier panel this company (whom I will soon name and promote with pride) has engaged with their suppliers on the basis of best practice. They accepted that the old habits of multi-listed contingent assignments no longer served anyones purpose. Sure they crunched the fees and terms a little for the volume promise but refreshingly they are going to provide assignments to their suppliers on an exclusive and sometimes retained basis.

In essence they want it done properly in the interests of the employer, the recruiter and the candidate. Mutual committment to the task underpinned with effective communication providing controlled, measurable outcomes. I love it. For over 23 years I’ve endured multi-nationals squeezing agencies on price, only to put them all in a rat race where the only measurement of success was speed. Yep speed eventually does kill.  This old style engagement model is dying as all parties become more enlightened to the impact of speed recruiting on all parties!

Much more to come on this topic but today is a great day!

Talent Shortage “Tipping Point”…soon maybe!

Well signs keep pointing that way don’t they. If you are a decent business analyst in Auckland today then you are certainly a very sought after commodity for example.

The thing I feel that employers must keep in mind is the key HR practices.
Things like:
1. Is cross training an option or is the productivity curve to long?
2. Will our key people stay due to high engagement levels?
3. Do we act now or risk the counter offer war?
4. Who are our competitors for key talent and what are they up to?
5. If reward and recognition are the main factors behind people moving companies then are we doing the right things?

I have zero doubt that we are entering another talent short cycle but I do think we are at the early stages so there is time improve employee engagement and plan for the upcoming tipping point.
Workforce planning must have flexibility as a number one strategic imperative. Get the blend of Contractors and FTE’s right. The next thing I advise is some competitor mapping. This may be a bit new to some companies but I suggest this is also a strategic imperative. If you don’t really have a scan on what compelling opportunities might be in the market then don’t act surprised when people move on.
In certain skill sets the tipping point may be here now but generally I think its just getting very tight. This will be challenging for employers and recruiters!

Get the recruitment experience you want!

This may be over simplified but I believe two key words summarise how to have a rewarding experience using recruiters. These two words apply to both employers and candidates alike and also explain why the experience is sometimes more frustrating than rewarding for all parties.

1. Commitment 2. Communication

Some background… Recruiting is a ‘noisy’ profession. By this I mean it’s very high demand on consultants in terms of managing the expectations of both employers and candidates and it’s a high volume of activity task. Furthermore, all three parties (candidate, recruiter, employer) often engage in a process that is destined to frustrate due to its lack of appreciation of all the factors that need to be aligned for a successful outcome. GUILTY all parties!

For employers consider some key factors in a successful recruitment assignment and then ask yourself how often we mutually manage these effectively:

1. A well defined job and person specification

2. An agreed candidate sourcing plan

3. A signed off selection methodology

4. Pre and Post interview briefings

5. Controlled negotiation for offer and acceptance

6. On-boarding

For candidates consider these factors:

1. A clear brief on what you want

2. Immediate communication once anything changes

3. Total commitment to a decision once the brief is met (including ignoring any counter offer temptations)

4. Full communication on why you are seeking a change and your critera for acceptance

5. Clear examples of what you have done to add value to a previous employer

Layer these factors with the conflicts of Time, Change, Human Behaviours, Cost and Capability and we can appreciate where things can go astray. Yet we continue to put up barriers to successful experiences.

Example: Employers throw out poorly defined job specs to recruiters on a contingent basis, sometimes via an in-house recruiter who hasn’t had time to fully understand what is really wanted, recruiters then run off and have a quick go at it because speed is more important than quality. Candidates receive a quick call and very vague job brief and the process has begun… often all parties get what they committed to… a frustrating experience!

Two things can change this whole cycle for the better. (Employer, Recruiter, Candidate)

1. Commitment. Make a mutual commitment to each other. Work exclusively with one recruiter. The recruiter can then make a commitment to all parties to do their job properly because they know they will be rewarded for their efforts. Considerations of Time, Cost and Quality can then be managed in a controlled and professional manner which is surely a better result.

2. Communication. We are dealing with people. Everyday life intervenes and something changes which will have a bearing on the outcome. Candidates must keep recruiters fully informed, employers must de-brief candidly, recruiters must keep both parties fully informed and engaged at each milestone. If this happens then the experience can be a good one regardless of final outcome but if not then it’s rarely so.

Mutual Commitment and Great Communication can change everything.