• Neil McDiarmid
  • 24 February 2012

Partnership approach to successful FM recruitment

According to a recent survey, recruiting new employees takes too long and is too costly. The research, which was carried out by Maximus UK and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in April, revealed that over 80% of the companies that responded saw recruitment as the greatest challenge in managing their workforce.

No surprises there really, but the question is, why do these organisations find it so difficult? In terms of this particular survey, a key reason could be because only 3% of the businesses questioned regularly use a recruitment agency. Just over half use agencies occasionally, while 46% said they would never use a staffing agency.

Almost one-fifth of respondents instead used online job boards and 43% sometimes used a job board. Yet nearly half of all the companies that responded to the survey indicated that the CVs they received did not match the requirements of their job openings while 20% indicated that the use of job boards was too time consuming.

With any form of recruitment advertising you may indeed receive a high volume of applicants, but the time and resources needed to screen those applicants, respond to them in a fashion which is fair and in line with employment law (i.e. making sure you’re not discriminating against people), means that there is a great deal of time devoted to the recruitment process before you have even reached the interview stage.

By contrast, when you use an agency that does its job properly, you get someone who will drill down that list of applicants to create a shortlist of applicants whose CV matches the role requirements. This means that the up until being presented with a shortlist of two or three candidates suitable for interview there’s little for the client to do.

Another view of two-thirds of respondents to the survey was a perception of the high costs associated with using external agencies, while 11% indicated that the use of staffing agencies was too time consuming.

Define too costly? From my experience, employers who think that employing a new member of staff is too expensive tend to be those that have high staff turnover and recruit because of churn rather than growth. Ask an employer how much it costs them to employ a member of staff after they have been with the company for five years and they will struggle to remember because the value that a successful member of staff adds to the company far outweighs the costs of taking them on.

Ask an employer how much it costs to take somebody on who leaves after an unsuccessful six-month probationary period and they’ll be able to tell you, probably loudly, what a waste of money the whole process was!

And as for the recruitment process being time consuming, I would argue that in order to succeed, it needs to be a partnership between the recruitment agency and the client. Any recruitment agency worth its fee will ask to meet with the client to fully understand what their requirements are for the role being filled.

Finding the right facilities manager can often be a huge challenge for an organisation and in some cases the central HR function in charge of filling that vacancy often doesn’t fully understand the intricacies of the role and why would they? I always try and meet the hiring/line manager to get a better understanding because by doing so you can find out what qualities are most important to them rather than just relying on the job spec.

For instance, the job spec may state that the candidate must have certain qualifications or membership of the BIFM, but when you speak to the hiring manager they may be less interested in a particular qualification but would prefer someone with X number of years’ experience in a similar kind of FM team, as team fit is so important in FM – including how well your candidate can get on with the people they’re going to work with.

A lot of the criticism of recruitment companies by clients though is that the recruitment company doesn’t understand their needs, and will just send them CVs. The simple answer to that is because there are some bad recruitment companies which will advertise the role and just forward on all the CVs that come in. That isn’t providing a service at all.

On the flip side, however, are the clients who say they’re too busy to meet with the recruitment consultant to discuss the role. Yet if it is a role that is integral to the company isn’t it worth spending an hour with someone to make sure they fully understand the person they’re looking for, understand the team environment and help build a good profile of the ideal candidate.

Somebody might look great on paper but they might not have the right dynamic to fit into the existing structure. That’s where you want your consultant to get the feel for the culture of the company. It’s also often overlooked that we’re offering a consultancy service to both the client and candidates, which ensures the right people are put into the right jobs.

A key element of the Facilities Management sector is that of partnership agreements, and so like any service provider, the relationship between the recruitment agency and the client is based on faith. Our success in finding the right candidate for the role stems from the confidence we have in the calibre of the candidates we provide. The way we ensure that is to not only reference check every candidate we put forward but to meet and pre-screen them before submitting a final shortlist; the client doesn’t pay a fee for screening candidates themselves!

Workplace Law is an ethical company and we are aware that one of the criticisms of recruitment companies is often that they’re lacking in integrity. While that may be true in some cases, we shall always be careful to ensure that Workplace Law Career Network upholds the standards of Workplace Law as a group, as well as drawing on our extensive network of contacts built up over the 15 years of the Workplace Law Group.

Neil McDiarmid
Managing Consultant, Workplace Law Career Network