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Will you marry me?

1st Aug 2018 Georgina Parker


Will you marry me?

Actually I don’t want to get married…….but I do want to get engaged.
Over the past 5 years there has been an increased focus on the importance of company culture to keep employees engaged. It is not enough to simply have “a culture” that’s not what this furore is all about – it’s about building a positive culture. It difficult to define what an ideal company culture looks like, one size certainly does not fit all, and it is even harder to implement a cultural shift, it takes time, but there is one sure fire culture killer that organisations cannot afford not to address – high staff turnover. 
We all know change can be good but change can also be unsettling. We can accept and embrace positive change; change that leads to opportunity, innovation and growth but too much change in our people? That can scare them, have them running for the door and erode company culture overnight. Many employees spend more time with their colleagues than with their friends and family. It stands to reason that bonds will be built, alliances will be forged and personal feelings will be shared. Attrition is catching. If you can stem the tide at ones or twos then phew! If there is a more profound exodus then it’s time to become introspective and consider what efforts can be made to retain talent instead of focusing attention just on how to replace talent….top tip – it isn’t always about salary, in fact more than often, for the right people it has nothing to do with salary. 
It saddens me when candidates who were once excited and enthusiastic about joining a company return to us 6 or 12 months later disillusioned and disheartened because the company hasn’t turned out to be the “collegiate, friendly, apolitical, respectful, organised, non-hierarchical, etc. etc.” environment they expected. BUT I am not just sad for the candidate but for the client too. Xpand is very fortunate to work with clients who excite us, they would be the organisations WE would want to work for if we hadn’t chosen to ride the recruitment agency rollercoaster. We don’t have to “sell” our clients to our candidates; they are at the forefront of technological advancements, spanning multiple industries, genuinely changing lives – that’s REALLY cool. My (admittedly sweeping) assumption is that organisations are growing so rapidly they HAVE to hire against a set of skills and quick! Find someone who can hit the ground running and take some of the load off immediately even though they may not necessarily tick the “fluffier” boxes in terms of attitude, motivations and culture fit. When everyone has a stack of work on their plate it’s easy to neglect our work mates…….until we find ourselves having to replace them. When talent walks out of the door the cost to a business can be largely intangible; it is the cost of not having someone occupying that seat, time to identify and interview, on-board, learn the ropes and upskill. Put plainly, it is the “sticking plaster” solution. Companies need to slow down to speed up. 
Before you raise a curious eyebrow, yes, I’ve done the maths – I am cognisant of the fact that the more people are engaged in their jobs, the less work there will be for agency recruiters but I’m ok with that. I would rather work on roles that have been vacated by people who have gone on to bigger and better things, chosen a new career path, learning opportunity or geography – all the reasons managers are (should be!) happy to hear when a team member resigns and great reasons for a new individual to consider joining OR on roles that have been created through growth. 
I have noticed a concerning shift towards guarantee periods that extend beyond, sometimes way beyond, 3 months. Bear with me, I promise I am not shirking my responsibilities. When we qualify candidates we do consider a) suitability for the role, b) aspirations, c) culture fit, d) attitude etc. and we don’t send candidates who we don’t feel match across all of these variables though of course, in varying degrees. Quite rightly, our clients do not request that we identify the candidate they should make the offer letter out to! When we send candidates the client takes over the reins of qualification. We offer a guarantee to give clients comfort that we are happy to shoulder some of the risk of a candidate not working out. This encourages any recruiter not to take short cuts or try and mask any issues that might make them unsuitable for the role/company. Ultimately though, all we can do is present candidates we consider appropriate and then we really do rely on our clients’ process to identify whether they are the perfect person, they will certainly know best. Similarly, we also rely on our clients on-boarding and engagement strategies, sadly we have limited influence over a candidate’s level of satisfaction once they have started their job. The qualification practices that the client adopts are essential to assess whether the chosen candidate will integrate well given the infrastructure and culture.
I’ll get back to the point, when a client requests a guarantee period of in excess of 3 months usually citing reasons of having “been burnt in the past” it does worry me a little that their interview process may need tweaking or their on-boarding /engagement strategies may not be robust. I was recently questioned as to why we don’t offer a free replacement for a replaced candidate. It isn’t always an easy conversation to have but in order to save time, effort and energy it is my responsibility to highlight that if two individuals haven’t worked out in a role then it may suggest a different negative force is at play other than plain and simple rotten luck. 
It’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is, there are some quick wins that every company can implement without too much disruption. Take a look at your interview process, do you give as much information about the team and the company as the candidate gives about themselves? Do you have stages that involve assessing cultural fit and motivations? Do you call to welcome the new joiner before their start date? Do you have a buddy system in place for when they first start? Do they know what they will be doing in their first week? Do you know when their birthday is? Sometimes, it really is the little things…