It may seem odd for a recruitment agency to ever discuss staff retention rates. Surely, it’s all about making a quick placement and then moving on?
This may be true of agencies offering permanent roles, but what about agencies who offer temps filling short-term gaps – for example in healthcare, hospitality and clerical/secretarial?
As a healthcare recruiter, my main task was to find the right candidates to work in the roles we had available.
Like most recruiters, we had more roles to recruit than candidates to place and with repeated temp roles being requested regularly, and numerous shifts to cover, my job became as much about retention as recruitment.
Like any “traditional” employer, we want to attract the best staff and to keep them.
The state of talent retention
Indeed there has been a trend over the last five years or so for employers to focus their efforts on recruitment strategies in order to enhance their competitive edge in the talent marketplace.
But this is beginning to shift in favour of a stronger focus on employee retention.
Whilst only 32% of global employers have prioritised retention, this is a key factor in retaining a candidate pool to cover temporary positions.
But how do we do it?
How does talent retention work?
In my role as a recruiter, I worked hard to add value to the service I provided to our candidates. Value such as:
- Free training,
- Support with career development
- Ensuring I was there to listen or to chat. My temps would often pop in for a coffee if they were passing.
- I also invited our temps in for regular group catch-ups where they could meet their colleagues and share their experiences. In Healthcare this is known as “peer group supervision” but it is a practice that can be transferred to any sector.
This added value resulted, not only in an increase in retention year on year but also an increase in recommendations.
Differentiating as a recruitment agency
So what ways can a recruitment agency add value and provide a differentiator in a crowded market?
I spoke to a recruiter colleague recently and they were exploring offering CPD bonus points. For every hour worked they accrued points of monetary value which could then be “exchanged” for training and learning. This could be a short course, a diploma or even an MSc.
Other agencies offer staff nights out and a Christmas do, and some offer employee perks like gym memberships, childcare vouchers or bonus schemes.
Temporary workers join an agency for a number of reasons. Typically for flexibility to enable them to manage commitments outside of work like childcare or caring for a relative. And while they need that flexibility, they often also want to feel like a “normal” employee. Yes, they want the perks and benefits, but they also want things like appraisals, CPD and time with their colleagues.
Good retention strategies will break the cycle of endlessly renewing through recruitment alone, a less than satisfactory solution and ultimately less effective and more expensive both in terms of pure financial terms and wasted resource.
For temporary agencies, simply recruiting the best will no longer be adequate. Employers will need to keep the best, augmented by equally strong policies for development and retention in order to reduce attrition and enhance performance and commitment.
The winners will be those companies which do all these successfully.
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