“You stole my guy!”
Let’s begin my examining the claim.
An employer approaches a recruitment company that they have recently used to hire a new team member to accuse them of deliberately plucking that person from their business and placing them in another. What’s more, they claim that the recruitment agency acted surreptitiously by biding their time until the rebate period had expired, and then making their move to target that individual. The employer is furious to see that, just 3 months on from the initial appointment, they once again have a gaping hole in their workforce, and they are now thousand pounds out of pocket due to the whole misadventure.
Now let’s look at the reality of the situation.
The recruitment industry is inherently service based. The very business model that recruitment companies employ is founded on the principle of establishing long term relationships – with clients, with candidates and with specific industry bodies and organisations. Short termism cannot be part of the approach of any company that wishes to thrive in this £31bn sector. More often than not, when a new employee leaves their new employer, be it 6 weeks or 6 months into the role, it is due to dissatisfaction with the recruitment and induction process. Both the recruitment company and the employer must share the blame – between them they have oversold the role to the candidate and under-delivered on the promises that they made during the interview process.
So how can this be prevented from happening?
1. Be Realistic.
This applies to all parties involved in the process. The recruitment company needs to give a realistic account of what the role entails – what the day to day responsibilities will be, how many people will be in the team, what the working hours are, what the pay and bonus structure looks like and so on. The employer must give a realistic account of what it is like to work for their business – what the culture of the team is like, how they will be managed, whether the role is likely to change in the near future and any unwritten expectations there might be associated with the job. Finally, the candidate should also be realistic about how the change of company will affect them – whether the extra money in the bank really make life better, whether they can cope with additional travel time or anti-social hours and whether the perks of working for the new company will outweigh those of the old.
If, for any reason, the candidate is misled into having unrealistic expectations about their new job and their new employer, the entire process will be put in jeopardy from the start. It is therefore the responsibility of the agency to frame the opportunity in a realistic light, the responsibility of the employer to outline a realistic account of life in their company and it is also the responsibility of the candidates to be realistic with themselves as to how the new role will affect them.
2. Build a Relationship with your Recruitment Consultant.
Again this is a process that works from three different angles – that of the client, the recruitment company and the candidate. For the end employer it is vitally important that the recruitment company, and the individual consultant, that you decide to work with has a thorough knowledge of
your organisation. Only through regular meetings and site visits can the consultant truly understand how the business operates and what it will require from its employees. The hiring manager should take the time to build a relationship with a single recruitment consultant to ensure that all future appointments have the greatest chance of success. The same must be said for the recruiter, who should take time away from their busy desk to meet with their clients and fully get to know the intricacies of their market. In the long run, time is saved for all concerned as candidates can be identified and approached more quickly, while money will also be saved as the employer sees their new team member stay comfortably beyond the rebate period, settling in for years to come.
As the candidate, it is also vitally important that you partner with one recruitment company, even one consultant, who will fully understand the value of your skill set and will be able to match your aspirations with that of their client’s. Be honest with your consultant about your skills and tell them in detail about your working style and your aspirations for the future. Building relationships based on honesty and openness, for all parties concerned, can help to prevent an unsuccessful appointment and a prompt departure.
3. Look After your New Staff.
One of the most common reasons for an employee to decide to leave a new company is the failure of their new employer to deliver on the promises that they made during the interview process. After 3 months the honeymoon period is well and truly over and any hidden problems regarding the role, the culture of the company or the internal politics of the organisation will have become apparent to the new team member. If the promised training and induction plan has not been followed then these issues can mount up and become unsurmountable obstacles in the relationship of the employer and their new employee.
It is therefore absolutely vital that the recruitment consultant and the hiring manager follow a structured aftercare regime. Through regular meetings and appraisals these issues can be highlighted and dealt with before becoming too problematic. The employer should endeavour to provide a mentor to their new team member – someone in whom they can confide without fear of reprisal. They should also set aside time to meet with the new worker to discuss the induction process and to get to know them on a more personal level. If a relationship of trust and friendship is built between the hiring manager and their new employee, then the employee is less likely to want to leave them in the lurch after a short period of time. For the recruitment company, it is essential that the consultant who placed the candidate maintains regular contact with them thereafter. This is obviously imperative during the all-important ‘rebate period’ but it should continue beyond then in order to ensure not only a long lasting bond between the individuals, but also a durable relationship between the two companies involved in the process.
4. Help them to Grow.
This measure applies almost exclusively to the employer. If your business operates in an industry that suffers from a skills shortage, then the candidates that you are looking for will also be courted by every single one of your rivals. It is crucial to bear this in mind when bringing in a new team member into the fold. As noted above, you should never make promises at interview stage that either cannot or will not be delivered. You must match the ambitions of the person you want to hire in terms of the responsibilities of the role, the salary on offer and, of course, scope for professional
development. If you have discussed your new employee’s career goals and their aspirations for the future then you know exactly how you can make them feel valued – invest in their future. If you know that they want to develop their skills in a certain area then encourage them to take additional training and qualifications. Talk to them about their personal and professional advancement, because if you don’t, then they will find another organisation that is willing and able to provide that kind of support.
Managers must be acutely aware that their employees are being subliminally bombarded by new opportunities all day, every day. A happy, content team member will ignore these opportunities out of loyalty to their employer. But someone who feels as though they are not being given a chance to develop will soon begin to listen to what other companies have to offer them. This is clearly not only a problem when introducing new people to a business – it is also an issue in the retention of longstanding employees. Therefore, if you want to maintain a highly engaged, highly motivated and, most importantly, a highly loyal workforce, you must do all you can help them to achieve their goals.
And what about cases in which the employee leaves anyway?
In such situations, it is not uncommon for a candidate to return to the agency that placed them in the first place. They know their consultant and they trust them to find something more suitable to their aspirations for the future. This is where the infamous claim of ‘you stole my guy’ arises.
A recruitment consultant will never want to move somebody out of a role with one of their clients. But if that individual has made up their mind that they want to leave, and they have reached out to the consultant themselves, then they are left with little choice. Recruitment agencies provide a service, and if someone approaches them to be provided with that service, be it a previous candidate or not, they are entitled to treat that person as the individual that they are and to help them to achieve their career goals.
The most important thing that an employer can do in a situation like this is to learn from it. Hold an exit interview with the person who is leaving so soon – find out exactly what went wrong and learn how to prevent this happening again in the future. Have a frank discussion with the leaver and encourage them to be honest about all aspects of the organisation. You can often find out much more from someone who has a legitimate grievance against your company, than from a happy, motivated employee.
You should also learn from your recruitment consultant. This person spends every single day in contact with the candidates that you want to employ and with the companies that you are competing against to employ them. They are in an unrivalled position to advise you on the impression that your business has externally, and they can offer guidance on how to improve this image in order to attract and retain the best talent in your chosen industry.