Over the last month, Locum People has been asked to consult at 4 different businesses (one was actually a not-for-profit), all with major cultural issues (toxic workplaces). All had large cohorts of casual employees.
The common denominator across all 4 businesses was the poor quality of middle management - low EI, micromanagement, communications issues, laziness. Senior management was unaware as they hadn't had that feedback from the largely casual workforces that reported into the middle managers.
Why hadn't that feedback been made? Because most of the employees were casuals - under the current record low unemployment dissatisfied casuals just left and found jobs elsewhere - leading to chronic staff shortages that in 2 of the cases were threatening the businesses' very survivals.
Those casuals who stayed didn't complain, because they worked in a climate of fear - if they spoke out, they wouldn't be offered shifts. They rightly feared for their livelihoods.
All 4 businesses have since taken positive steps to address their issues, but the lesson here is that large casual workforces may benefit businesses in times of relatively high unemployment - but it is a largely unsuitable business model in the current climate.
It is also a myth (promulgated largely by the business community itself) that employees "like" casual employment as it gives them flexibility. Our work suggests the exact opposite. Employees are only taking casual roles because that's all that's on offer. Most will jump ship for a permanent role in a heartbeat.
If you are struggling to recruit and retain staff in the current environment - perhaps think about changing your employment model. It may reap huge dividends.
Everyone is talking about “the Great Resignation”. It’s in the media, there are blog posts aplenty (including this one), but what is it?
In the USA, following the lifting of pandemic restraints, there has been a huge upsurge in employees resigning from their roles. What’s driving it?
So, what can employers do about it?
Many of our clients have been asking us what others are doing regarding mandating Covid vaccinations in the workplace.
In some sectors its easy as the government has mandated it. In Victoria for example it will be mandatory to be vaccinated if you work in the construction industry or in child-care, or the schools’ system. It is already mandatory in most healthcare systems.
But what of private companies?
Last month a NSW Personal Injury Commission case confirmed that employees will be entitled to workers compensation if they contract Covid carrying out activities that have been induced or encouraged by their employer. This is an important precedent. It suggests that if someone catches Covid while in the workplace then it is an Occupational Health and Safety issue, i.e. Employers can be held liable.
So how do employers mitigate that risk?
Like any OH&S risk, employers must take steps to minimise the risk of transmission in the workplace, and one of the best measures is to ensure all employees and site visitors are vaccinated. Other measures such as social distancing, ventilation and masks are also important. Not taking these steps leaves one open for charges of negligence, and if death were to occur, even charges of industrial manslaughter (a charge that can now result in custodial sentences in many Australian states).
But vaccinated people can still catch the virus you say?
Yes they can, but deaths and ‘long-covid’ remain rare in the vaccinated. The vaccinated are also far less contagious than the unvaccinated.
But what if one of my employees refuses to be vaccinated?
The employment landscape has changed. Can the individual work from home? If so, it could be an option. If they must be in the office, you could potentially get them to sign a waiver that prevents them holding you accountable for their infection, should they acquire one. However, that waiver does not protect other employees who could potentially catch covid from the unvaccinated individual. And how would they feel having an unvaccinated person sitting at the next desk?
We have spoken to a number of employees in a variety of companies over the last few weeks. Most are vaccinated, or in the process of being vaccinated so mandating vaccinations poses no challenge for them, but all expressed concern that their colleagues might not be doing the right thing. None of them wanted to work with an unvaccinated colleague.
Further, many employees, particularly those in sales and service roles need to be able to travel and visit customers. Those customers will often require site visitors to be vaccinated. Even getting on a plane will require a current vaccination status. Therefore, the question must be asked, can an unvaccinated person satisfactorily carry out their roles and responsibilities if they are unvaccinated? Clearly in some cases the answer will be no.
We are aware of at least one national sales manager who refuses to be vaccinated. Even more oddly he works as a supplier into the healthcare sector. This means not only will he not be able to travel by air to be with his interstate team members, but he won’t be able to visit the company’s hospital customers when there anyway. Nor will he be able to travel internationally to company’s American head office as he has historically done annually. Clearly, for him to effectively do his job he must be vaccinated. If he refuses, he may have to forfeit his employment.
This predicament will become the norm. It is our belief that mandatory vaccination will be the norm in Australia for most workplaces, and it’s coming sooner than we think – possibly within 6 months. Our recruitment team are already being asked by our clients to check candidates’ vaccine status. That clearly implies that the unvaccinated will become unemployable by many companies.
In short, we believe requiring a vaccination in the workplace should be treated as a health and safety issue. In the same way that hard hats and other safety gear must be worn on a building site, so too will being vaccinated. The only difference is that this time around the safety gear must be “worn” by the office staff as well.
Mandatory workplace vaccination is coming. Get used to it!
Despite everything we had to endure in 2020, the end of this nightmare is finally in sight as the COVID vaccines begins to roll out. Places may reopen, the economy is recovering, and we get to give our friends a hug without the feeling of guilt and fear.
With a whole new era in hiring and recruitment, however, 2021 is going to be a year full of adjustments and changes. Rather than sticking to old conventional practices, we’re expecting a new wave of tools, technology, and skills that will play into today’s working reality.
So for those who are planning to or are in the process of restoring your employee base, we’re hoping that this guide will give you some sense of direction moving forward.
First off; 2020 was the year that separated savvy companies from those lagging behind in technology. Before that, only 15% of businesses prioritised digital transformation. In the post-pandemic era, it is expected that most companies will be incorporating technology into every part of their business. Speaking specifically to HR, this growth will likely open new doors for hiring and team management tools.
According to PWC’s 2020 HR Technology Survey, 74% of companies plan to increase spending on HR tech to address talent needs!
Rise in ‘all-purpose’ employees in foodservice and retail
With most restaurants and shops now reopened for business, we’re bringing our customer-facing workers back to where they were before. A bit of a spoiler alert here, though, it’s not going to be the way it used to be.
Why? We’re looking at entirely new job descriptions and titles that didn’t exist pre-pandemic. For example, in some places, waiters are required to also do temperature screening and perform sanitising work on top of their usual food serving duties.
It makes sense that for an industry that naturally values quantity over quality, introducing recruitment tech to your foodservice and retail hiring may seem like overkill.
But new job functions that emerged due to COVID will change how we hire in this industry. Even with increasing job demand and the desire to replenish the workforce, many companies now look for specific skills when hiring front-line staff.
As we talk about the rise in ‘all-purpose’ employees, the ability to multitask comes to mind. How you measure this will differ from company to company. But here at Locum People, utilising Prevue, we have the science that allows recruiters to explore relevant characteristics such as reactivity and flexibility. In other words, you can find out if the candidate likes variety in their work; whether they’re organised and likely to follow instructions; and how they tend to approach work pressures and demands.
Working remotely is the new norm for techies
The pandemic has forced almost everyone in tech to work from home − and it is very likely that this will stay as the new norm moving forward. In hiring, this means you’ll be looking at not only their programming and coding skills, but also their ability to communicate and collaborate in an entirely remote environment.
As we all know, every individual has a unique set of traits that make them different from others. We apply the same concept to the positions that we’re hoping to fill − i.e., what specific characteristic does this role require for the candidate to succeed? What are some common core qualities a software developer needs in order to perform well, or to work remotely?
Based on the work that they need to do, programmers and developers are generally self-sufficient individuals. Many prefer working in isolation and are more productive in environments that don’t involve too much interaction. This makes them the perfect candidate for remote work.
But in the odd chances that you are looking at a completely qualified candidate who instead of working alone, prefers being surrounded by a team of like-minded members − you’ll need tools beyond a job-fit assessment to understand what exactly makes them tick.
With extra data in hand, you now have a better picture of each person to come up with well-tailored interview questions. Consider this an opportunity to impress your candidates!
Savvy salespeople will change the game
The future of work is going to be very digital-heavy. And it seems like the pandemic may have brought us closer to this future a bit sooner than we thought. The ‘Zoom era’ is only the beginning of it all. Moving forward, basic digital literacy will be fundamental to working professionals all-around. This includes salespeople that can normally thrive with excellent people-skills alone. Yup, being a smooth-talker will no longer be enough.
The ideal nature of a sales hunter does not change − that being someone who is independent, aggressive, and passionate. What you’re simply adding to the benchmark is the candidate’s ability to process information and technology, as well as their likelihood to learn on their own. We’re not here to pitch a sale (no pun intended!) but applying cognitive and skills testing to your hiring will make a difference.
By adjusting the way we approach hiring, in case of other unprecedented events, you’re securing yourself a team that is ready and well-equipped to stay afloat at all times. This will prove beneficial to your company in the long-run. So better to start now than later!
Let us know what your ideal hiring scenario looks like. We can help!
If you’ve ever outsourced your recruitment, you may have been surprised to find that there isn’t simply one way to do it.
I often find myself outlining the different ways for clients, so they can make an informed decision about what will best suit them.
Usually, it’s a tale of two options: contingent vs. retained recruitment. And having worked in both fields, I am well placed to comment.
What is contingent recruitment?
When I worked as a contingent recruiter, it constantly felt like a race. Or a battle. The flick and stick. The push and shove for fantastic candidates to fill speculative roles. You cross your fingers and toes, avoid ladders, broken mirrors and black cats, in the hope of getting paid for the work you’ve done.
This is the world of a contingent sales recruiter, and it is tough. The pressure to make something out of nothing is great, the activity levels are high, and the culture is cut throat.
“Contingency is sometimes described as No Win, No Fee (or even No Cure, No Pay). It is what it says on the tin, a service performed by a recruitment company for free until the day a candidate represented by them takes a position with their client.” The Undercover Recruiter
Working on a non-exclusive competitive contingent assignment, is often working for free!
“Working this way is how the recruitment industry got the reputation of “throwing CV’s against a wall”. That’s because this way of working means that the recruiter has to be quick – do a quick database search and get as many CV’s that look OK to the client.” Beaumont Wood
What is retained recruitment?
At Locum People, I’ve learned that retained recruitment involves selling from the beginning. You offer your professional service to a client and ask to be paid upfront for the hard work you are about to undertake.
The research, mapping, screening, interviewing, testing, references, and last but not least, the general management and constant sales within the process, ensures the client gets a candidate for the role that will deliver the right results.
This all takes a considerable amount of time and effort, for which, as a professional, you should be paid.
Coming from years of contingent recruitment, adapting to retained was a daunting task. The calls are cold, the conversations are at a much higher level, and the sales cycle is slow.
Where once the aim of a meeting was to walk away with the sniff of a job, it is now to develop a long term relationship with the client, to understand their business, people and culture. To have a good level of engagement with your client and understand its offering, so that when a vacancy arises, you’re ideally placed to fill it.
Contingent vs. retained recruitment: the difference between the two models is now clear to me.
With retained work you must sell yourself, the recruitment company and its process. The sale is up-front and it’s something you have control of and believe in.
With contingency, you sell candidates to clients and jobs to candidates. And everyone else is trying to sell the same candidate to your client and others! It’s survival of the fittest. Only the fleetest of foot will survive.
Give me a retainer every time! I get paid and clients get better candidates. Win-Win!
“The retained recruiter takes their time to get things right using processes and agreed methodology, knowing they will eventually fill the position thanks to their exclusivity terms. The contingency recruiter will be a lot quicker and most probably deliver more candidates to increase the odds of making a placement.
“Another difference is that the retained recruiter has signed up to a service level, sometimes a retained search can be challenging and these projects can be rather lengthy. The contingency recruiter will simply move on to another vacancy or client where they believe they can get a more straightforward win.” The Undercover Recruiter
For all the extra time and skill that retained assignments take, every second is worth it both for me as the recruiter and also for the client. Less anxiety for me. More time to do a great job. A better candidate for the client. Happier people all round.
Over the last couple of weeks, Locum People was approached to assist three different clients in three different industries. All were having problems with their Melbourne-based staff, and all had their head offices interstate (2 in Sydney and one in Brisbane). Staff were feeling stressed, harassed and in one case were clearly being bullied by their Sydney-based management.
At the heart of all three cases were interstate management not understanding what was really happening in locked-down Melbourne. Sales results were very poor as were sales activity levels. After all, it's hard to cold call when one is not allowed leave one's 5km radius and customers' workplaces are shut anyway.
In one case, the Sydney-based manager was refusing to believe that his reps could not visit customers. The company operates in the pharma space and as such is considered an essential service, so in his mind his reps should still be out seeing customers as they were in Sydney and Brisbane. The reality was that Melbourne GPs were largely doing telehealth calls and had banned all non-medical staff (reps) from their offices (to minimise cross contamination). Similarly hospitals have also banned all non-medical personnel.
This sales manager's approach was to start harassing his Melbourne staff, demanding they maintain their call rates. As sales started to fall off he refused to believe the reasons demand had dropped. He was calling them liars and accusing them of laziness. 2 of the 4 reps filed workcover claims for stress, and a third laid a formal bullying claim against the company, which having seen the evidence will stack up. It's a real mess, and one that was completely avoidable.
When Locum People questioned the manager as to why he did not believe his reps, he said he's been reading the news and thought Covid 19 was just a beat up and that his Victorian reps were just using it as an excuse. He of course had not been to Melbourne - the border is shut.
Locum People counseled the staff via Zoom, and the manager involved but the damage has been done. The company has a zero tolerance policy for bullying. His manager (the company's MD) gave the sales manager an official written warning, which in turn prompted his resignation. With that result the sales people are now back on deck as much as they can be.
The moral of the story here is that if you're an interstate-based manager and your people and results are down in Victoria, use common sense. Have some compassion... and most importantly, don't believe everything you read in tabloid newspapers. As shown in this case - it may not be their fault and it may not end up being them who leaves the company.
Melbourne is back in Covid-19 lockdown. Right now, if your business is not in hibernation, many if not all of your employees are working from home or remotely elsewhere. You’re relying on them to deliver what they can and be available. You can’t see what they are doing or how they are responding to customer needs, both internal and external.
Your teams are interacting via email, telephone and video conference – but it’s not the same, and it’s likely to be this way for many weeks yet.
These good people you hired all have individual personalities – many will need social interaction to remain motivated – social factors are a big reason many people get up in the morning and come into to the office where they interact with their colleagues and friends. They may struggle with remote work and telecommunications rather than face-to-face interaction.
Others may actually thrive without the constant interruption of their colleagues. This period of isolation may be a revelation to them. They might find that when our lockdown eases, they won’t want to return to business as usual, and if their productivity has improved, you may not want them too either!
But who is who within your team? Do you really know? What is the best way to motivate and communicate with each of your team in their new circumstances?
If you are unsure, have a chat to Locum People. We have the tools to assess your team-members to understand their motivators and communication styles and preferences. Clarifying these is good for both you and your teams. What is the best way to get the best out of your team in these trying and new circumstances? It will also allow you to start planning their eventual return to the normal workplace, whenever that will be.
All Locum People’s tools can be delivered remotely and contactless. We support social distancing and safe workplaces. Contact us now!.
Welcome to the Locum People website. We will be posting news and commentary on industry, human resources, recruitment, personality profiling and other relevant topics every week or so. If you are interested in a topic or are looking for additional insight, drop us a line!