Well the recruitment industry is certainly renowned for its high levels of staff turnover; in my first job at an agency a consultant left every month for the first year I was there (apparently nothing to do with me!!). I was hoping that Helen Pedder was going to get 10 tips out of this subject so we could use it as a part of our 600 Interesting and Useful Things for Recruiters series, however, it seems that there are only five tips you need to follow to keep your star consultants happy:
1) Be innovative when rewarding good performance. In our experience, too many agency directors think money is the be-all and end-all when it comes to motivating and rewarding their staff. Of course cash matters, but a little creativity goes a long way. Everyone is different but additional annual leave, for example, may be more attractive to some individuals than a cash bonus.
2) Consider offering flexible working arrangements. Why not offer this month’s stellar consultant the opportunity to ditch the 9-5 and work different hours for the following month as a reward? This could take the form of an early start or a late shift. This may help with childcare arrangements, or responsibilities or hobbies they may have, and will increase their loyalty to the business. It will also mean having your top performer around at times (before 9am and after 5pm) when key decision makers on their prospect list will be more likely to have time to take that all-important call.
3) Promote wisely. Being a great salesperson doesn’t necessarily make you management material. Automatically promoting your best consultant when the next branch manager position becomes available might seem natural to you, but is it what the individual really wants? They may be happy in a sales-focused role but feel pressured into accepting the promotion, only to leave for pastures new when they can’t handle or don’t enjoy the new role. Too many star consultants get dropped into a management role and are left to get on with it, with no support, guidance or training – and are expected to excel! Rather than a management position, a star consultant may prefer an enhanced, specialist consultant role that still allows them to utilise their skills in business development, candidate sourcing and client handling. For example, is there a new sector or geographical area that you’re targeting? Heading up this new operation may be a more attractive proposition for your star than managing a team of fellow consultants in their existing branch or office.
4) Devise personal development plans. The quality of internal staff training varies greatly from agency to agency, and it’s no coincidence that those with effective programmes in place tend to hold onto their stars for longer. It may be difficult in the time-pressured, sales-driven world of recruitment, but taking the time to sit down with your consultants once every quarter to discuss their performance, concerns, objectives and ambitions is well worth it. Your employees are only human, and they naturally want to have a sense of where their career will go if they stay put.
5) Invest in your working environment. We spend most of our lives at work, so it’s important that the office is a nice place to be. Research shows that a pleasant working environment can dramatically boost staff productivity and morale. Conversely, drab surroundings can drain your consultants’ enthusiasm and may well lead your stars to start considering their options. We all know that margins are under relentless pressure and that agency costs need to be controlled, but if a fresh lick of paint and a decent staff canteen would make your best consultant decide to stick around instead of leaving for a rival, isn’t it worth the outlay?
Helen Pedder is from ClearSky HR, a provider of outsourced human resources and employment law support for recruitment firms and sister company of Parasol.