Home / Construction / The right stuff

The right stuff

Construction and property companies need to take more responsibility for their recruitment processes to address the industries challenges, argues Simon Girling, Founder and Director of Girling Jones Recruitment

As the property industry skills shortage deepens, now is the time that employers need to take ownership of their recruitment processes. Recruitment, across the board, has a bad name, and to be honest it is often well earned. There is no doubt there are unscrupulous practices out there. Blanket mailing of CVs, unsuitable and inexperienced candidates, limited knowledge of the role and unethical fee structure can be commonplace. In an industry struggling to attract talent, poor recruitment practice cannot be allowed to continue and the facilities management providers need to up their game.

If using a recruitment agency, it is all too easy to blame the agency if candidates prove unsuitable for a role. It’s true, the agency should follow a rule of best practice but clients too need to take more responsibility for the recruitment process by not only working alongside the agency but also managing the agency relationship and raising expectations.

It is time for property maintenance companies to recruit better whether this involves using an agency or not. When using an agency, make sure you are getting the best out of them. Expect high standards not poor practice. Choose an agency who know the sector so that they don’t waste time interviewing people who don’t have the right skills for the job. Ask yourself whether you trust your agency to get you a high percentage of the specific type of recruit you’re looking for. If you don’t, then it might be time to reconsider your options.

Get the interview right. You should be doing as much to impress the candidate, as they are to impress you so make sure your interview process reflects this. Try to ensure every candidate that leaves the interview, wants to work for you, regardless of their suitability. Also, if you are using an agency, talk to your consultant about the candidate. They should be able to advise you both before and after the interview on what buttons to press, should you want to secure the hire. Many companies fail to provide a strong interview process leaving candidates uninterested in taking a role with a company even if offered a job. Remember, in the current market, candidates often have a choice – make sure that choice is your business over a competitor.

If you want the candidate and can afford to offer a higher salary than they are being paid in an existing role, offer it upfront. Don’t play the game of withholding the higher salary until the candidate has rejected the first offer. By the time you are ready to offer an increase, they could have been offered and accepted a higher salary from a competitor or accepted an increased offer from their current employer to stay on board. On average, it costs an employer £5000-£10,000 to recruit and train a new hire. It isn’t surprising then, particularly in construction and property markets, where the talent pool is limited, that counter-offers from existing employers are common. If you genuinely want to attract the best candidates and keep them, make sure the offer is right first time. Remember too that for many candidates it isn’t just the salary that hooks them into a business but also the progression opportunities going forward. If you are lucky enough to find good, skilled and trustworthy talent you should do everything you can to attract and keep them, because if you don’t a competitor will.

Employers also need to ensure the recruitment process doesn’t end with a job offer. How often has a candidate accepted the offer but then fails to turn up for the job on day one? There needs to be a level of engagement with the candidate after the offer is accepted to ensure they are committed. If you have managed to attract a highly skilled person who is working their notice period, expect that they may still be swayed by their current employer to stay put. ‘Buy-Back’ from existing employers is common when you are dealing with someone who has a set of skills which are highly sought and hard to replace.

Construction companies need to learn from other industries where onboarding is a much more focused process. Too often construction companies employ a candidate, sign a contract and send them straight out to site with little or no introduction to the company. This, undoubtedly, is a reflection on the skill shortages we’re seeing, but getting the onboarding process right, first time with an employee, means that you are more likely to keep them long term. A robust process ensures new employees feel engaged with the employer and committed to the company goals. The process can include an induction, health & safety session, company history, future objectives, initial and ongoing training opportunities. A robust onboarding process has been linked to increased job satisfaction, enhanced performance and higher employee retention in the long run so it’s worth the effort.

Since the recession in 2008, the industry has been battling against an ongoing skills shortage but with a series of high profile projects including Hinkley Point, HS2 and Crossrail combined with the Governments new housing initiatives, there is even more pressure on the industry to recruit talented people. Then there’s Brexit. We don’t yet know what impact Brexit will have on UK construction and property markets, but it is very likely we will see a reduction in foreign workers who we currently rely so heavily on.

Overall, employers must address the increasing skills gap by enhancing their recruitment practices so that there will be enough professionals to deliver a range of projects into 2018 and beyond.

About Sarah OBeirne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *