With attrition levels on the rise, it has never been more important to get the recruitment process right, first time.
We asked our recruitment experts for their advice.
Recruitment is just the beginning if you are to avoid high levels of attrition and a constant recruitment requirement. Careful consideration to managing and supporting new recruits is important.
Understanding of the roles and responsibilities
Any manager worth their salt will tell you that the first step has to be an understanding of the role and responsibilities and being clear about what is required, in order to brief HR or your agency. This includes a number of elements from the medium, i.e. email, voice, chat, through to the task, technical support, sales, customer service and perhaps also language skills or a combination of these. Having a grid and selecting the requirements is a great first step and that, added to competency levels, will ensure that there is clarity surrounding the role before the recruitment stage. Highlight anything specific to the role, qualifications, CRB checks, etc.
Develop your competency grid
Work to develop your competency grid in partnership, reviewing the skills, experience and personality type required. Think about the brand the agents will support, who is the target audience, what will their expectations of the service be and how can these best be met? Be creative with your brief. Think about the mix of talent, experience and profiles. What makes a good team and how will they gel?
Having a good agency on board can help enormously
Invite them into your business; let them understand the culture, the standard of your existing staff, what is important to you and what the benefits of working with you are. Sell to them and they will sell to their candidates. High volume recruitment is worth extra effort at the planning stage. Work with the agency and develop tests and checks that they can carry out on your behalf. This will save an enormous amount of time and effort at your end, as the candidates will have been pre-screened. Don’t be afraid of the fees, as getting the selection right first time can save later in training and coaching, attrition and even poor performance or behaviour.
Always be honest with the interviewees
Focus on the positives but ensure they understand exactly what is required of them. Let them see the call centre, where they will sit, who they will work with, where they can chill out during their breaks and what facilities you offer. Remember that working in a call centre is often an extremely social occupation. The applicant will be interested in their fellow agents. Are there regular social events? Are they sponsored by the company?
Talk through the training programme and ongoing support
Agents want to know how much preparation they will be given before going ‘live’. Show your organisation chart and describe the departments they will come into contact with during their first few weeks. Give them confidence in your ability to look after them during the early days.
Explain your expectations clearly and concisely
Don’t wait for offer stage to explain your terms as emotions may cloud judgement in the excitement of being offered a new role later. Provide basic information, including working hours, salary, bonuses or commission, location, sickness policy, holiday entitlement, and explain parking and public transport, breaks, dress code and any other pertinent information during the interview. What incentive programmes do you run and what are the criteria? When are salaries paid and how? Are commissions and bonuses paid monthly, quarterly, weekly? At the end of the interview, always explain the decision-making process and timescales. This sets expectations. Check if holidays are booked. Check that the applicant is available to attend training. Offer the opportunity for the applicant to ask their own questions.
Offer letters should be informative and welcoming and explain the next steps in terms of references and checks. If the offer is subject to specific requirements such as a CRB check and satisfactory references make this clear.
Measurement of success
The recruitment process should not end there. The measurement of success should take the first three months into account as a minimum. These early months are your opportunity to equip the agent with the tools required to do a good job. Maintaining momentum and motivation will directly impact on the all important attrition rates. These first three months are often the ‘danger zone’ for attrition, and talent retention strategies such as mentoring, career planning, education and on-the-job training can counter this.
Recruiting the right people is just the first step!
Sue Marshall is Sales & Marketing Director, Respondez
Business strategy alignment
A truly effective recruitment strategy must be aligned to the overall business strategy. The best recruitment strategies will be well thought out and carefully prepared, preferably well in advance of any potential need arising so the business is not playing catch up, or looking at a quick-fix solution.
Engage the stakeholders
Before contemplating a recruitment strategy, knowledge is key. Whoever is developing the strategy needs to engage with all the stakeholders, hiring managers and individuals who are influenced or touched by any potential position. They must understand why and when the business may require any future hires. For example, they should know if the business is looking to move into new markets, aiming to increase turnover or looking for process efficiencies.
Don’t use the same old job description
Each time a new recruit or hire is required, don’t just revert to an old job description. It is important to conduct regular reviews of role profiles, job and person specifications, as it is likely that your business or potential markets will have changed since the last time you recruited for the position. Any changes will then need to be incorporated into an updated job or person profile.
Direct recruitment: Internal job board, company website, social media, CV database, staff referral schemes, job fairs, online or adverts.
External recruitment: This would involve working in partnership with a professional recruitment supplier, a managed vendor, executive search or preferred contingency suppliers.
Whichever route you take, each option will require its own defined process, stages and timeline, with a contingency plan, or alternative route if the preferred first method does not succeed.
If you have decided to work with external partners, whether it be advertising or a recruitment agency, give as much time as possible to brief the consultant/company on your vision and requirement, so they too have the benefit of your knowledge and strategy. After all, the advertisement, or recruitment company/consultants you engage will be the representation of your brand to the next prospective hire.
Well-managed post-attraction contact, CV sifting, interview and feedback stages will be crucial if you are to manage the expectations and interest levels of any applicant effectively and secure the best talent. Potential new candidates, especially the best individuals, are likely to have more than one application in process, or will be making contact with more than one prospective new employer at any given time and will become quickly engaged with other opportunities.
Make sure everyone has a positive experience and impression of the company
Even candidates who are not the strongest or most suitable for this particular role or campaign may be prospective future employees of the business and need to be left with a positive experience and impression of the company.
Michelle Ansell is Director at Douglas Jackson (www.douglas-jackson.com)
Any decisions you make will have a longer lasting impact
At this point it is important to take stock and remember that any decisions you make will have a longer lasting impact. For example, if you are offering higher salaries this could help with staff attrition. In addition, offering (and adequately communicating) career progression opportunities and strong benefit packages can help to attract and retain talented professionals.
In-house or recruitment consultant?
After establishing the finer details of the role and the competencies required, you will need to decide whether you want to deal with the process internally or partner with a recruitment expert. Do you have the resources and the capability in-house? If not, identify which recruiting business will be best placed to offer you insight and industry expertise.
Get the job specification correct
It is important to get the job specification correct, as this is ultimately a piece of promotional literature. It should contain information that truly differentiates the role from others and brings it to life. Ensure that content is up to date and work with your consultant to produce an accurate document that will appeal to candidates. Being as specific as possible will save precious time by making it easier to identify appropriate candidates and avoid needless interviews.
You may want to employ telephone screens, assessment centres or psychometric profiles. You need to implement the most relevant process in order to filter through the best talent.
Video and social media
The use of mobile, audio and video can enhance the attraction strategy, as web-savvy jobseekers are looking to see which organisations are providing a comprehensive picture of their working environment. Work with your consultant to create an integrated online campaign, which may also include elements of social networking such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Competency-based interviewing (CBI)
Ensure you tap into all the resources your recruiter has on offer; for example, have you considered using competency based interviewing (CBI) techniques? These will help eliminate subjectivity and help you make more effective hiring decisions. If the rules are followed, you won’t form an opinion about the candidate straight away, which is one of the most common failings of the traditional interview. CBI delves into the dynamics of individual behaviour in a comparable environment to get the real story, rather than the part-fiction, part-truth alternative.
Think about retention
Once you have hired your new recruit you need to think about retention. From the moment you offer the post, maintain appropriate contact, make them feel a valued member of your organisation and keep them engaged. Then hold regular formal and informal reviews during the first few months to check on progress. Does your organisation have a mentoring or ‘buddy’ system to use during the probationary period? Have you discussed training and development needs? The first few months are pivotal and a little extra effort during the ‘onboarding’ period can go a long way towards improving retention.
Brad Parker is Senior Business Manager at Hays Contact Centres
Make sure you leave the right impression
In the fight for talent, the recruitment experience you provide to applicants looking to join your organisation or moving within your company can be a real deciding factor in securing them. Even where applicant numbers are on the rise, the perception you leave with candidates – whether you employ them or not – will have a significant impact on your hiring activity now and, importantly, in the future. It is widely agreed that our behaviours and expectations as consumers when the economy recovers will be different, this will be the same in the employment market. Candidates will be strongly influenced by the company brand image, recruitment process and communication
With senior posts taking on average four months to fill, and at least a further two to three months until your new hire is performing at their maximum potential, the most cost-effective way to protect your organisation against the impact of the departure of senior staff is through robust succession planning. Promoting from within significantly reduces the risks associated with turnover in senior posts.
When considering your candidate attraction strategy, define and promote your ‘Employer Brand’ to your target audience, develop your corporate careers site and supporting technology – how do candidates find your website? And always use the most appropriate recruitment media – navigate the new Web 2.0 and social media.
Assessment and selection
Many organisations still rely solely on a face-to-face interview to decide who to hire, despite the fact that this method on its own is consistently shown to be a poor indicator of future performance.
A more robust assessment and selection process forms a vital part of any good recruitment process… and it needn’t be costly or time consuming. Tailor assessment services to your needs, helping ensure your hiring decisions are based on the fullest range of evidence available. Used as an integral part of your overall candidate management process, such assessment services also serve to engage further with your applicants and help in the delivery of a professional and enjoyable recruitment experience.
Effective talent management looks at: employer branding, advertising media, recruitment technology & systems, and your understanding of the ‘candidate journey’. Look to devise and implement the most suitable strategies to build a pool of future talent. Building a relationship with this pool of prospective employees will help you recruit more quickly and effectively when you need to time and time again.
The first six months
An effective recruitment strategy will incorporate the training and development needs of employees through the first six months of their time with the business. Though induction training is very important, offering mentoring and coaching support, particularly to senior managers will further differentiate you in the market.
In writing an effective recruitment strategy you will save time and money whilst gaining better quality. From this you can begin to understand your ‘value’ per hire, a more considered and relevant matrix.
Mark Lightburn is Director at Artis Customer Contact and Consulting
Employers now require a more sophisticated approach to resourcing, one that strategically links talent acquisition to the needs of the business. At the same time, people’s expectations of what they want from employers are also rising, and organisations need to be more innovative in how they attract and retain staff. Many are adopting a more flexible and diverse approach to their recruitment practices to meet these challenges.
Recruitment Process Auditing
In order to develop a meaningful recruitment strategy for the future it is imperative that you fully understand how your current process works, the most effective way to achieve this is to conduct a full ‘Recruitment Process Audit’.
1. This audit should look at every aspect of the recruitment cycle within your business. It is designed to highlight both procedural excellence and areas of improvement within the process.
2. The first stage of this audit is to fully understand who in the business has responsibility for recruitment and how they are currently conducting their recruitment processes.
3. You need to gain a clear picture of the overall internal recruitment strategy and recruitment practices by discussing the current practices with hiring managers.
4. Once you have a clear picture of the current hiring strategy you must then gain a good understanding of the ‘candidate experience’ through the hiring process.
5. The most effective method of understanding the current ‘candidate experience’ is by fully investigating and discussing the individual experiences of all recent ‘new recruits’ throughout the organisation regarding both the recruitment & induction processes. This will help identify any key areas for improvement or change.
Once you have fully reviewed and documented the current recruitment cycle and practices from attraction to induction you are now in a position to design a ‘best practice’ recruitment procedures across the organisation.
Operational Recruitment Services
Many organisations have an internal HR function that deals with many of the operational aspects of the resourcing process. However some organisations do not have a dedicated function and managers often have to devote precious time overseeing recruitment themselves. Below are some key areas to consider when devising a successful strategy for the future:
- Ensure you look internally prior to adopting any external recruitment strategies
- Have a clear understanding of the current market place including: salary surveys, skills shortages and key drivers / reasons for candidates to join your organisation.
- Map a consistent recruitment / hiring process for each new recruit
- Create a consistent job profile for each requirement which can be utilised by every hiring manager
- Create a front cover sheet of key information for agencies to complete with each submission.
- Ensure feedback is offered – feedback forms should be completed for each candidate interviewed.
- Ensure relevant management information is collated and presented to hiring managers from suppliers.
- Communicate new processes to hiring managers and assess any further areas of support required.
- Consider ‘Direct Hire’ strategies where applicable
- Have a clear understanding of the best methods of attracting staff – devise an attraction strategy
- Review all testing and assessment products and process
- Once you have successfully recruited staff, make sure you keep them by introducing attractive retention measures and developing innovative and creative training programmes to keep them motivated and engaged.
- Hold focus group meetings of existing staff – both new recruits and those who have been employed for a number of years to find out from them their view of the key attractions as an employer and what the key factors are for them in remaining in employment.
- Developing an attractive, user-friendly recruitment web-site, with access to a wide range of detailed information for potential candidates about the benefits of working in your organisation
- Ensure that your recruitment processes encourage diversity