Why the recruitment industry is failing to retain talent

Kim Pullinger, Contributor · 15 May

Despite growing year on year, the UK’s recruitment industry struggles with a whopping 43% staff turnover rate: miles above the 15% national average.

Given it can cost up to 400% of an employee’s salary to replace them, better talent retention will definitely help to boost profits.

Recruitment's retention challenges

Potential image problem

Many are drawn to the recruitment industry for its highly competitive culture which sees those successful achieve a dream city lifestyle. For some, the pressure to succeed and large financial drivers give a more negative image to the industry. In reality, it’s somewhere in the middle.

Employees competing

Not having a defined image means potential employees often join recruitment agencies not really knowing what to expect. HR might find they recruit ambitious graduates who impress at interview but leave early when discovering it’s not what they expected.

Getting the wrong hires

Being a recruiter requires a certain skill set but the right attitude is more fundamentally important – common sense and working at pace under pressure.

When hiring from within the industry, candidates can easily demonstrate these recruitment credentials. New hires from the graduate pool may be able to talk up certain attitudes during an interview but when the reality of the steel they need hits them, they could flee for the exits. Being more thorough in hiring for the right attitudes could save both parties time.

A lack of support

Being a recruiter can be a really difficult job when it’s not going well. Rejection is a regular occurence in recruitment, a feeling most people don’t get over easily. Employees have to deal with people not answering or returning their calls, and being told that after all of their hard work, the company is actually going with an internal hire.

Struggling recruitment consultant

If there’s no support network to help employees who have fallen into a spiral of rejection, it’s going to be much harder for them to get out. Those who don’t get this support will leave, and recruiters who do want to stay in the industry will find an agency who offer the right support.

How HR can solve this

Reward your employees

Rewards and perks are key to retaining all of the talent in an organisation – especially in one which is so results-driven. They help employees feel valued, even in the face of the rejection they’re likely to experience from time to time in recruitment.

Employees who no longer want to work in recruitment might not be swayed by additional rewards, but they will have an impact on those who do. Company loyalty can be built with them by offering more than just a high salary. Free cinema tickets, subsidised gym memberships, and weekly lunch events can all have a big impact. Putting in place more robust professional development and training can also prevent raw talent from becoming overwhelmed and burning out.

Employee support group

Reform the recruitment process

Deviating from the standard CV and interview format will ensure the right employees are hired from the get-go. Asking candidates to solve problems, complete tests, or perform in mock pressure environments will show whether they really possess the attitude to succeed. It might be more time consuming but will save money on recruitment costs in the long run.

Set the expectations early

Job attraction is key to bringing in high-quality candidates but the realities of the recruitment industry don’t always live up to glossy magazines at careers fairs. While showcasing how great the company is to work for, it’s also important to be upfront about what a career in recruitment will be like. It’s a question of being realistic without underselling how rewarding recruitment can be – for the right people.

Employees rewarding each other

Being realistic with employees is not only reserved for recent graduates. Employees right the way up the career ladder can leave companies because they feel that they have been let down or undersold. Honesty is the best policy.

 

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