The right people for the job

Smaller organisations are investing more in human resources in recognition of the importance of recruiting and retaining the right staff if the experience of The FIRM, the leading forum for in-house recruitment managers, is anything to go by.

When the organisation was founded as a LinkedIn group in December 2007 almost all its members were from larger well-known companies, but, now with over 5,600 members, they are seeing many more companies of all sizes prioritising resourcing, says director Gary Franklin.

He says new smaller companies are able to be more innovative than companies with more complex structures and so have the ability “to do things right from the start”.

He adds that more enlightened larger companies appear to be investing in specialist human resources staff whereas before they might have taken a recession as an opportunity to cut back.

The FIRM is media sponsor for this year’s Top Employer Awards which celebrate best practice in flexible working and family support.

Franklin says he has definitely witnessed more talk about flexible working in recent years, but he feels many companies are still failing to grasp the benefits in real terms. He says: “Many of the benefits are explained in hypothetical theory rather than with substantive examples where flexibility will benefit anyone other than the employee.  Many companies see the issue as one-dimensional and don’t see employee well-being and happiness as something that can be addressed through changing policies to offer flexible working environments or conditions.  The idea of employee well-being and increased performance is understood and accepted, but the traditional approach along with control and trust issues dominate the attitudes of such companies’ leadership.”

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Few advertise flexible roles, he says, and it is still up to candidates to know how to bring up flexibility at interview, which is dangerous for them in the current climate. Franklin says: “Companies need to offer it up as an option for all roles if and when appropriate to eliminate this fear about when and whether to bring it up..  It’s all about the psychology of interviews and control of the processes.”

Nevertheless, he adds, talent retention is high on the agenda of HR teams.  He says many large organisations have always put more emphasis on retention of talent than recruiting new people, for example, they might look to develop existing staff in order to fill 60% of their vacancies and hire in 40% from external sources. In the last couple of years, however, Franklin has seen a clear shift to something which is more like a  70/30 split, going to 80/20 more recently.

He is not sure if this is wholly due to the economic situation and says there may be other factors. “Don’t forget we have so many more channels of communication open to us so all the messages about best practice or what works and what doesn’t get broadcast to a much wider audience. This access to peer influence may have a big part to play in company and leadership attitudes to many issues, with talent development and retention among them.”

*If you are a company with innovative policies and practice in flexible working and family support, why not enter’s Top Employer Awards. The closing date for entries is 12th July.

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