According to LinkedIn, 20th September was the date last year that they registered record numbers of job searches and applications. If you are a growing recruitment business, it could be your staff looking for a move. Demand for experienced recruiters is huge, and employment at record levels.

In this crowded marketplace, the 10-20 staff zone is make or break. I’ve met hundreds of businesses that have grown this far on enthusiasm and good recruiting, good client and candidate relationships. But most businesses never get beyond this. The average UK recruitment business now consists of just 5 people. Why?

Because they have not planned sufficiently for the future.

When you are busy chasing your next placement, the time invested in building your brand, developing a bespoke L&D plan, and defining policies can seem a bit of a luxury. In fact, it can seem like an irrelevance.

I was with a new client of mine yesterday. He moved directly from being a billing consultant to running his own business, and has turned a modest profit in years 1-3. Having grown to 8 staff, he has lost 3 in the last year and agreed that he was vulnerable to losing more. This would put a spanner in the works as far as his business goals go. But, as his fee-earners have developed their reputations, they become targets for his competitors.

He had been advised to re-do all their contracts with very extensive restrictive clauses. While reasonable clauses make good business sense, they are very difficult to enforce in practice if your people don’t want to be there.

So, what does he need to do to really protect his business? What will make his staff reject the advances of competitors and R2Rs freely and willingly?

What is it that makes some businesses successful, keeping their staff and attracting new talent? How do some grow from scratch to 100 plus and others never get past the first 20?

  1. Do you invest in the brand and do your team understand this? Is there marketing and advertising support, PR, social media presence and appropriate collateral, or is every placement simply the result of their sales efforts? If the brand is no bigger than them, why would they stay?
  2. What is the plan? Do your team understand the objective for the next 3 years? If all this amounts to just “make more money” that can sound very much like “just work harder” if you are not the owner. If the goal is to achieve x per cent market share, what’s in it for the team? Promotion? Long term contracts? More support staff? Maybe an EMI scheme? Is all this communicated and referred to regularly?
  3. Is L& D a priority? I’m not talking tokenism – sending people on open courses for a “gee up” or morale boost. Is there an organised development plan for each team member that leads to outcomes that work for both of you? Is it effectively resourced?
  4. Do the team respect you as a leader? Do they proudly look to you to see what hard work can achieve? For example, can you call on special relationships with industry figures? Do you represent the brand well in the sector, recruitment industry or media? Are there charitable works that they can be proud of?
  5. An experienced recruiter is likely to get a lot of calls from other recruitment businesses. If they haven’t worked elsewhere, they probably don’t realise that recruitment is not the same everywhere. What is it about your sector that should make them stay? That could be high salaries/margins, or reliable long-term contracts. It could be that you invest in tools and tech for them beyond the norm.
  6. Is your reward, recognition and promotion system fair and transparent? Small businesses often do this stuff on the hoof and end up having to unpick bad deals for years later. Be careful not to over promote people just because they are loyal, too. 
  7. Are your culture and values actually working for you? Or did they just happen? People will pick these up whether you want them to or not. For example, If you have a clear off-limits policy, don’t ignore it just because you are short of fees one month – and don’t allow your staff to. If one of your team does something unethical, don’t let them get away with it just because they are billing well.
  8. Do you constantly find reasons to appreciate, publicly, the contributions of your team? They may be doing something that you mastered 10 years ago, but it’s still new to them, and an important development milestone. Use awards, celebrations and recognition to reinforce the effort that goes into making progress and improving.

Are you confident that your business is doing all of the above? Would your team agree?

If your business could do with some help in this area, or with growth, planning or managing for profit, contact Alison Humphries at Recruitment Leadership Ltd, the sector’s foremost business mentoring/NED service on 07720 677557. 

Categories: Advice