Despite widespread recruitment issues affecting the relocation business, it is still possible for firms to hire great employees. Caroline Seear, CEO and founder of international recruitment specialist Red Recruit, says it’s all about asking the right questions
Nearly all industries are facing recruitment difficulties, not only relocation. As demand for the services of relocations companies has grown after COVID, the lack
of trained staff and the shortages have had an impact on the workforce – and this is leading to stress. This makes employees look to leave the industry as they don’t want to work in such a pressured environment, further increasing workload for remaining staff and increasing stress levels even more.
That’s the bad news, but what can be done in such an environment? There are short- and long-term solutions – and while they require extra effort, they are there.
First, you need to ask a question. Why are your staff really leaving? And where are they going to?
Once you have the answers you can start to change satisfaction levels within the company. You may be surprised but 95 per cent of the time, staff don’t leave for the money. I have worked
in recruitment for more than 20 years and asked many candidates this exact question – and the answer is usually dissatisfaction with the working environment.
Now, for some questions on company culture:
- Are your staff appreciated? Is there a culture of saying thank you? Does the manager say thank you?
- Apart from the money, what are the benefits of working for your company?
- Do people have a way of expressing how they feel, anonymously or otherwise?
- Is there an awareness of mental health with an environment where people can express their worries if work is stressing them out?
Creating a caring culture goes a long way and will increase staff retention – which should be your first and biggest focus. Employees who are happy, productive and want to stay are worth their weight in gold.
We want our candidates to be a long-term asset in our client’s company, not a short fix to a problem. Hiring new staff is costly – in time, money, and lost productivity. Investing and training them to leave in a year or 18 months is not good for the business.
So, another question: when hiring outside of the company, do you look inside the company first?
I have assisted many companies to recruit for new department or branch heads. I always ask the company to advertise the role internally – and then fill the vacancy left by the person who takes on the position.
This can be done for all roles within the company. The approach has many benefits: staff can develop their career and the new branch or department will have loyal personnel rolling out the new venture. It’s a win-win.
Additionally, do you offer company training that allows your staff to upskill? There is a lot you can do to retain your staff, but this is the most important place to start.
Where to start
When hiring a candidate in this market you must be open minded, think laterally – and look further afield. For any given role, think about transferable skills for example, and ask yourself exactly what is needed for the tasks the employee will perform on a daily basis.
A relocations consultant, for instance, needs great customer service skills, experience in travel, languages maybe, dealing with people who are under stress, an ability to be super organised and great administration skills to boot. These skills can be found in people carrying out a variety of roles not necessarily in the moving business – such as hotel receptionist, personal assistants and so on.
Of course, it will take longer to train someone who hasn’t actually been a relocations consultant before, but if you have someone who has a willing attitude and wants to learn you can go far. If they have a great attitude and an array of the skills you are looking for, they could be a superstar in your organisation – and you won’t hear the words ‘well we didn’t used to do it that way when I worked at XYZ relo’, either.
When you do find someone you like and who fits your company culture, act quickly. Good candidates are not on the market for very long, and the longer you leave it the more likely that the candidate will be offered another position and accept elsewhere.
And remember, when interviewing, sell the benefits of working for your company. Even if that candidate isn’t exactly right for you, they may tell their friends about the business. If you like them, tell them that you can see them fitting into your company very well. Arrange the second interview immediately and do not hesitate, as the candidate is actively looking and going to interviews with your competitors too.
Look at training and apprenticeships – there is a shortage across many industries. These were cut some time ago and inevitably there is a gap of skilled people within the age range affected.
Creating links to good people when they are at the beginning of their careers is a great way to grow talented and invaluable employees. Four of our employees at Red started off as trainees and are now managers or well on the way. It works.
Would you re-hire people who have left your company? This is something that I ask clients and often I hear the word no. I think that’s wrong and you’re missing a valuable opportunity. Three of Red’s employees are returners to the business – and they are highly valued too. So never say never.
Work from home? This can work well, so why not consider 100 per cent ‘off-shoring’ a role to someone in another country. Amazingly, a lot of relocations companies will not consider this, but it really can work. We were forced to work from home during COVID and this has shown us that it is possible and in many cases more productive for the employees. At Red, we have hybrid working and the days at home are different from the office as you can get far more done.
Long term, make sure you don’t have a bad reputation for bad working practices. How do you find this out? Ask your recruiter. They are a third party that hear what people feel every day – and it’s their job to know. A good recruiter can do an anonymous survey for you.
You can then find out what the real issues are and plan what you can do about them.