In this week's episode, we are discussing what is probably the hottest topic right now, and that is recruitment and retention.
If you're anything like my clients, then you are finding it particularly difficult to attract and retain great talent.
So we're going to unpack that, by exploring the 7 needs of an employee and the 7 needs, therefore, of a candidate.
And to do that I am joined again by Rory Spence from the WOW Agency.
[01:03] Key findings from the recruitment & retention Bench Press Report
[03:12] What are candidates looking for in the agency they choose to join
[03:55] Only 33% of agencies have a strategy to deliver a great candidate experience during the recruitment process
[04:29] What does a great candidate experience look like?
[07:30] Best routes for recruitment - should you use recruitment agencies?
[12:30] What is the best process to recruit and how should it be structured?
[14:52] In-house vs remote working - 39% of agencies ask staff to be in the office 1-2 days a week
[18:00] 82% plan to keep an office
[18:30] 71% of agencies are recruiting remotely
[21:25] The 7 needs of a candidate
[21:40] 1: Purpose
[22:50] 2: An exciting vision
[24:55] 3: Leadership
[26:30] 4: Team
[27:40] 5: Progression
[29:27] 6: Flexible working
[33:39] 7: An empowered culture
[35:45] See recruitment as a strategy, not a tactic - so think about the recruitment process & onboarding strategy
[36:11] Think about how you recruit and how your current process can be refined
“If you can address the 7 needs of a candidate, you will be able to attract top talent.” - Rory Spence
"When you have recruited, it not the end of the problem, it’s the start of the solution." - Rob Da Costa
"39% of agencies ask staff to be in the office 1-2 days a week" - Rory Spence
Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
"I enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode." If that sounds like you, please consider the rating and review my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — to move towards a Self-Running Agency.
Scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select "Write a Review." Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!
Also, if you haven't done so already, subscribe to the podcast. I'm adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the feed and, if you're not subscribed, there's a good chance you'll miss out.
In this week's episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast, we are talking about what is probably the hottest topic right now, and that is recruitment and retention. If you're anything like my clients, then you are finding it particularly difficult to attract and retain great talent. So, we're going to unpack that, and we're going to talk about the seven needs of an employee and the seven needs, therefore, of a candidate, you might be recruiting. Fascinating stuff gives you a great framework for your recruitment. So, let's dig in and get on today's show.
I'm Rob Da Costa, and this is The Agency Accelerator podcast as someone who has stood in your shoes, having started, grown, and sold my agency and just how it feels in the ups and downs of agency life. So, this podcast aims to ease your journey just a little by sharing mine and my guests’ experiences and advice as you navigate your way to growing a profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable business.
Hey everybody! And welcome to this week's episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast. I am delighted to be joined yet again by Rory Spence from the Wild Company.
Rory is my first three-peat client interviewee on the podcast, so I'm excited about that. And I know I had lots of great feedback from the previous episode, so thanks for joining us again. Now, in case you haven't listened to those episodes, I will put a link in the show notes. But Rory works for the Wild Company, and he helps agencies across the UK by advising them on their pricing strategy, project management, and financial processes. So, the Wild Company recently launched two new market research bent press reports, one for agencies under a million and one for agencies over a million, that are focused on the very hot topic of recruitment and retention.
Now, I don't know about you, Rory, but this is a topic of conversation that I'm having time and time again with my clients. It's an employee marketplace right now, and it's tough to find and retain good talent. So, your reports are well-timed. So thanks for joining me again, Rory. And let's just start by discussing broadly some of the key findings that you think our listeners will be interested in from the reports.
Great. Thanks, Rob. Thanks for the intro. I didn't realize this was the hat trick of podcasts. Exciting times! But you're right, this has been a really hot topic for agency owners right now for the last six months and probably more. Every conversation I seem to have with agency owners involves recruitment and the challenge of that and how competitive the market is and also inflated salaries. And so, I'm hoping today we can share a few tips around all of that as well as some ideas around retaining staff and what the top agencies are doing that we can see through our bench press reports.
So, you mentioned what are some of the key findings from the latest bench press report?
Well, what a dad, of course, is I can share the link with you, Rob to share with the audience, and I guess that can go in the podcast notes.
We'll put all the links in the notes.
Perfect! But I think some of the key headlines have been around what employees are looking for from top agencies. So, I think this is really important for retention, of course, you know that its employees that are looking for these things and but also how important that is as part of your recruitment as well, because the times have changed.
As you said, this is kind of an employee's market right now or a candidate's market, and it's just as important that you as the agency owner and the recruiter are selling yourself and showing the value of your agency as a place to work. It's just as important you're doing that as candidates are selling themselves and the value that they're going to bring because ultimately you want them to choose to come to work at your agency. And so for me, the number one stat that stood out from Bench Press this year was that only 33% of agencies have a conscious strategy to deliver a great candidate experience throughout that recruitment process and that I found really surprising. And that's a number that I think should be considerably higher.
Absolutely! If you're not in that 33% and you're competing for talent against someone in that 33% you probably wouldn't fancy your chances too well. And so, I think that's really important. Can you just explain what that means? What does a great candidate experience mean?
Yeah, absolutely! So, a great candidate experience, I guess, I liken this to almost your new business process in a way. So, when you are doing your new business and you have got a potential client, you've got a prospect. There you will think and you will map out the exact touch points you're going to have with that prospect. And you're going to think of all the ways that you can showcase the value that you can bring to that potential client. And you will have a clear strategy on the new business side of things of pieces of content you direct them to - when you're going to meet them for a coffee or a bit of lunch, or when you're going to present to various people within the team. And when you're then going to follow up to that and you map that out meticulously and you think about that we should take the same approach to recruitment, we should be thinking about how we showcase our value.
When do we share certain questionnaires or videos that we've done internally or little things that just showcase what it's like to work at the team? When do we introduce them to other people in the team or their direct line manager, for example, so that they can meet them as well as you? Potentially? Absolutely! You need to think about having a really clear strategy for when you're going to do this. And what I just add to this as well, when we were making these comparisons to new business from a new business perspective, you will. Everyone listening will have won a client where you weren't the cheapest. You'd have been pitching against other agencies, and you will have not been the cheapest. But you'll still have won the work. And why has that happened? Well, it's because you've been able to showcase the value that you can provide to that client, and they've chosen to work with you because of that feeling that you've given them. And because you've done a great job of showing that value well, exactly the same can apply for the recruitment.
Candidates will come to work for you even if you're not paying the highest salary because if you're able to showcase these sort of other things that you can do and that these candidates are looking for them, and I'm sure we might touch on those seven things candidates are looking for on the podcast today. But if you can really showcase that and you can show the value that you can bring as an agency and as an employer, then candidates create talent.
Great candidates will come and work for you, even if you're not paying the highest salary. So it's an interesting point that we are in a different era to a point where it was all about the candidates selling themselves to you to get the job. Now, you've also got to sell yourself to the candidate and thinking about this and how you're going to do it should be a conscious decision, not just doing it on the wing. And I think you know, I always say to people like when you're recruiting, you found the person. That's the start of the solution. It's not the end of the problem, and therefore, having like that first 100 days mapped out is super important so that you can give yourself the best chance of being successful.
And if we play that back then what you're saying, Rory, is that we should think about that in the recruitment process as well. Let's just talk about recruitment and the actual process of recruiting before we jump into those seven things that candidates are looking for. I found it interesting that in the two reports, the sub million agencies, I think, had “using recruitment agencies” as third on their list, and I think LinkedIn was the number one place that they were going, whereas the plus one million agencies had recruitment agencies the top of the list. Have you got any thoughts on that? And what are your thoughts about using recruitment agencies in general?
Yeah, it's really interesting. I think if you can find a great recruitment agent, then you're absolutely winning. But, of course, there is a fairly hefty cost and a lot of the time with using recruitment agencies, so it didn't overly surprise me. I guess that recruitment agents were a little bit lower on the under £1 million agencies than it was on the over £1 million agencies. I think also probably not too surprising to see LinkedIn as kind of number one and number two on both reports and job boards being the same basically. But I guess one of the key things that I was really interested to see was that on both reports, interestingly, it was the same percentage. Only 5% said that employee referrals were the best way of finding talent, and I think that it's a huge opportunity for agencies to tap into more. So, when it comes to employee referrals, there are a number of winds here that you can find one. They're going to be cheaper than recruitment agents, even if you are offering a kind of referral incentive, which I think you should, you know.
You should incentivise your team to go and find great talent and to help you out. You know, it will be a win-win all around. To give you an example, I know a number of our clients will offer £1000. Some of those will be £500 when they get the job and £500 after a year. Some might be, you don't get anything until they pass their probation. And some might be, you get the whole whack after they've signed their probation or finished their probation, but that just gives you an example. But that £1000 is still going to be cheaper than recruitment agents, but not just, “Is it cheaper?”
Also, we talked a second ago, Rob, about how important showcasing the value you can offer as an employer is as well. Well, if your team is going and speaking to their family, to their friends, to ex-colleagues to make from university or training courses, then they're only going to do that if they believe that it's a great agency to work out anyway. And therefore, they're going to do that selling for you. They're going to say, “Hey, you need to come and have a chat with us. You would love to work at this agency. You know, this is what we do, and this is how we do the work and by the sounds of it, you do things really differently. Well, I think you'd really love working here,” so they're almost doing the selling for you, which I think is a huge one.
Yeah, really good shot. And I think that the final thing I'd add there as well is, of course, if you've got someone who you believe is highly talented within your team and they know a couple of people from a previous agency they used to work out well, the chances are they're going to be pretty talented as well. The training that's gone on at that previous agency or that training programme or you need or whatever it is, it's a safer bet than taking someone on whom nobody knows. And you don't know, apart from an interview process.
Yeah, I think that's a really good shot. I think people really overlook that, and they really forget that actually, happy employees are really good salespeople, both for finding new employees and, of course, for winning your business as well. What I think about recruitment companies, you said at the beginning, is that if you can find a good recruitment company, they're worth their weight in gold, and the cost might seem a lot, but you have to factor in what is the cost of me hiring the wrong person and the disruption to my agency and to my clients when I have to let them go after three months? I've invested all this time, so I think there are no shortcuts. And when we try to take shortcuts, it usually ends up costing us more in the end. So, that's my experience, and I've had a few clients who have been very resistant about using recruitment companies, but I've got sort of desperate. So, they’ve found good staff, and then they realised a year down the line that that was actually worth paying whatever the fee was, because I've got this great member of staff, they fitted in really well. The clients are happy with them and I'm not having to go back to the drawing board, which I might do if I try and cut corners. So, you remember like anything creative when it comes to group and I've got the time or I've got money, and if I've got time, I can go trawling through Lincoln and try and do it myself. But is that the best use of your time? And should you be investing the money? So, not saying we should all be using recruitment agencies and, like you say, it's probably not surprising that the sub million aren't, but I would factor that into your decision making.
When you're looking at it, don't just discount it out. And absolutely, as Rory said, Go talk to your staff because they're perhaps your best recruiters. Now, I don't know whether you've got any view on this, but because it's a candidate's market. At the moment, some agencies used to have very protracted interview processes where they'd have two, maybe even three interviews. I was talking to a client yesterday who is recruiting a digital marketing exec, and we were talking about the kind of exercises they might get them to do. But I was actually saying, “You might be better off just having one interview and making your decision based on that one interview and get them to do that exercise.” Do you have a view on that? Does the report have anything about that?
Yeah, that the review didn't. I'm sorry the report didn't touch on that specifically, but I do have an opinion on it, and I think it does go back to just ensuring you have that great candidate experience. So, in my opinion, you could do one interview or you could do three interviews, and that alone isn't going to dictate whether it was a great candidate experience or not, it's actually how fought out that is, “Who am I meeting as part of that process? How is that structured? Where does it happen? When does it happen?” I think that is probably, in my opinion, more important than, like, simply the number. You know, if you can have one interview, but it may involve two other members of the team as well as you. As let's say, the owner, founder, a director like that, that could be really good, because then you're getting different opinions and you're still giving that person rather than grilling them two hours, you're giving them the opportunity to chat to other members of the team and get different perspectives as well.
Can you maybe get them to do a test, but in their own time, rather than as part of that interview? But how can you make that fun as well? Let's be honest. Some of these, like interview tests, are pretty like laborious. How can we make that fun and enjoyable process? But like I said, I think equally you could have a three-interview process., but as long as you're thinking out and mapping, “who's that going to be with,” how is that going to happen for you?
Doing it kind of on their terms, in terms of timing is to an extent as well, so it's not a huge task for them in a drain. Then, I think as long as, like I said, the key thing is having that great candidate experience in mind. I think that's the key thing.
Yeah, that's good for calling me out on that. That's very true, I suppose. I was saying it in terms of speed because what's happening is some people have these protracted recruitment processes, and by the time they get to the 2nd, 3rd into that, candidates got a job somewhere else that we need to act a bit quicker. It's a bit like saying a house at the moment because the housing market is going through the same thing. One quick question before we talk about those seven things that the candidates are looking for. What did the reports tell us about in-house vs remote working versus part-time freelance and all that kind of stuff?
Yeah, good question. So this, I think, was a big thing that people will be curious to see. And when they were answering the survey, I know a number of people kind of getting in touch, saying, “Can you give me any early insights into this?”
We're making our decisions now as to office decisions and the like, so ultimately, I've got the kind of I've got the full stats here. And so, in terms of days of the week that need to be worked in the office, still, the highest percentage is 1 to 2 days. So 1 to 2 days in the office and therefore 3 to 4 days at home. And that's 39% of agencies that have that. Then 28% of agencies we'll need them in the office 3 to 4 days a week and therefore at home 1 to 2 days a week. So it kind of reverses.
And interestingly, 27% so very close, 27% that they can choose. They can completely choose how often they're in the office, and whether they're in the office at all. Basically, now you mentioned it before. Well, we both mentioned, and we're keeping people are, you know, in suspense about these seven things, but one of those is flexible working, and so we will come back to that. But I think that this is a key thing people are looking for, put it that way. Only 1% of agencies that answered our bench press report had people in five days a week. That's 1% because it was probably one agency.
You know, in all honesty, I think that you're going to really struggle. I think, long term to retain staff if that's the approach you take, and I know that that person would probably justify it by saying, “Hey, everyone wants to be in the office. They love hanging out with each other,” But I think really, the chances of everyone in your team wanting that every single day for the next year or so they might right now or they might when covid sort of ended in the lockdown sort of ended. They might have really enjoyed that, but I think in the long term you need to review that. And I think that's an interesting point. I have an HR expert joining my membership group, South Running Agency, later this month. And we were doing a prep call for it. We put like an expert in the hot seat, and the group gets to quiz them and it's HR this time, and she has a sheath. Feels that the pendulum hasn't stopped swinging yet, and so, it is interesting.
I don't know whether you're planning to do this report every year, but it’d be really interesting to see what those numbers are and say years' time when we've got enough distance from the pandemic and the pendulum has stopped somewhere because obviously we were all forced to work from home during the pandemic. Where is it, actually, you know, and maybe that your report is saying that, but I'm not sure. I mean, a couple of times, I've been doing some one-to-one work with a sort of a mid-level agency member, and they've been sitting on their bed because it's the only place in their house and they live with their parents. It's the only place in the house that they can get a piece of peace and quiet. So, obviously, people like that probably don't want to keep working at home. So, I don't know whether you got a view on that, but it will be interesting to see where the pendulum stops.
Yeah, I think it's interesting because two stats that stuck out from venture press around kind of this topic one was that 82% of agencies are going to keep an office basically. And so, I think it is clear that very few agencies are going to be going like completely remote. Where those people that you mentioned because you're absolutely right, Rob, there are people we need to think about those people that you know do live at home with their parents or in shared spaces, for example, with friends where it's maybe not the best working environment. Actually, those people are still going to have somewhere that they can go, which I think is so key.
But what was also really interesting is that 71% of agencies will be recruiting remotely, and how we defined remotely is outside of a computable distance to that office. Basically, which I think is great, by the way, 100%. I think this is a great idea. It opens up a massive talent pool for you as well. We've seen it. The benefit of doing that. We've had some really brilliant people that we wouldn't have considered previously. And so, I can say firsthand, like what a great decision that has been. But like, I guess, interestingly, just on this, well, what we're talking about now as well. To give you an example, we've moved to a remote-first kind of process, basically internally and with clients. So, what that means is, we still have the office, the same office as we had before. It's open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. People can choose to go in if they want to. However, there's absolutely no obligation to, and clearly, those people that we've recruited in Scotland, for example, are not going to be coming down and I'm working from the office.
But what it also means is that remote-first sort of idea means if there were four of us in a meeting, an internal meeting, and three of them were in the office and one was remote. We do that call on Zoom and everyone dials in individually because I don't know if you've ever been in this situation, Rob. When you kind of dial into a meeting, that's happening face to face and you're just the face on a computer that's kind of propped up in the corner of the room. You can't quite hear what's going on. It's a lot harder to contribute to that conversation as well. And so that's why we made this decision to say, “Right. Well, we will be remote first. So, only time will do a face-to-face meeting, as if everyone in that meeting is all they're like face-to-face, which the chance of that happening these days is pretty minimal.” And that, I think, has worked really well and has really helped people to kind of feel really part of the team as well, rather than that just that face on a computer that's been propped up in the corner basis, but I think that's important to avoid.
Yeah, it's interesting. In this week's group call, someone was asking, “How do you make a remote worker who's completely remote because then based in Scotland, for example, and they're based down the South Coast? How do you make them feel part of team? What tools are there?” And we came up, I will list one of the tools. I can't have the name of it but it’s listed in the show notes. Someone shared this really clever tool where you almost recreate the office layout and then you can move into the meeting room and you can get on a Zoom call with them, or you can hang out in the kitchen with people, and then you can have, like, chat.
And it was really interesting. I guess there are more and more software tools like that emerging where we're trying to create this sense of community for a very disparate group of people. I also think that you know all of this works, provided you have the right culture in your business, right? If you have to take the Boris Johnson approach that you'll be eating cheese and drinking coffee all day and not working if you work at home, if that's your culture, then obviously it's going to be really problematic.
But I would hope that most of our listeners and our agencies in this world don't have that kind of culture for trusting culture, where it's all about getting the work done. Not necessarily the hours you work.
Okay, we've kept everyone in suspense long enough. Let's talk about the seven things that our candidates are looking for in an agency when they're looking for a new job.
Awesome! So those seven things, and I'll summarise it at the end as well, so that we've got a clear list.
But the first and these are in no particular order. The first of those seven is Purpose. More and more now, this is important. I think in younger generations, this is kind of always been important for them. When you look at their kind of buying ideologies as well and who they're loyal to in terms of brands, in day-to-day life like, actually, a really clear purpose is really important. Do they really feel that they are making a difference personally and do they feel that “Hey, the company I'm working for is making a difference?”
And I really do. I have a clear purpose here within the business. And does this business have a purpose? What are we actually doing here? Or are we just turning out websites for money? Basically. So, I think having that clear purpose is absolutely key. I'm a huge Simon Sinek fan, people that have attended events of mine before. No, pretty much every time I seem to give this guy a shout-out. I'm not on a commission, I promise. But he has written brilliant books.
Start with, “Why all around?” How important it is to have a purpose and a clear why he's done great podcasts and great Ted talks. He's everywhere. You won't struggle to find out whatever medium you like to listen to or read, link in the notes to that. Anybody wants to find out more about the books. So, purpose is that first thing.
The second thing candidates and employees are looking for from top agencies is a Vision as well. So, actually, are they excited about what the future holds for the business? And I think what an even more important question to ask and probably the question to start with is, “Do they even know what that looks like?” So, there's one thing than being excited about it. But actually, do they know what the future holds for the agency? And that's absolutely got to start with you assume? I think a lot of your listeners, Rob, kind of founders, owners, aren't they? And so, that has to start with you as the owner, the founder. And you'd be amazed. I mean, this is what keeps me employed. But you'd be amazed at how few people do that because they’re just stuck on the treadmill during the day-to-day without a sense of where they're headed.
And I bet you I'm just listening to you, Rory. Sorry to interrupt you, but I'm just thinking how many people in the recruitment process actually present any of this? I bet. So if you actually do. But it's,of course, something because you don't just want to hire someone for today. But you want to hire someone who buys into that vision and buys into that journey with you 100% right, 100%.
And that's where we went back earlier and we likened new business and recruitment and said, You can hire the top candidates without paying over the odds and offering the highest salary. Well, it's these seven things that we're talking about now that if you can demonstrate this in that recruitment process, then these are the reasons why someone will come to work for you rather than that huge agency where they are just going to be kind of a cog in the wheel, basically, and they don't have a clear purpose.
And they are not really on board with the vision of the business, but they're getting paid an extra 5-10 grand. Actually, these are the things you need to be thinking about. And how can you showcase these things in that recruitment process in that candidate experience? So, yeah, absolutely vision that's got to come from you as the owner of the business. How can you first of all map that out and articulate it? But then how can you crucially get people really excited about it as well, so that they're really excited for where the business is going to be in two years' time, five years' time.
Now, the third point here of the seven is around Leadership. This is so important. There was a mental health survey that went out last year that asked employees, “What is the most important thing to protect your mental health at work?” Basically, and the number one answer by far, was empathetic, educated leaders. That was the key thing. So, I appreciate we've gone off on a slight tangent, but I just want to share as well beyond simply recruitment. Leadership is absolutely crucial for so many reasons, anyway.
Probably not too surprised to hear that, anyway. But particularly in that recruitment process and for employees, your current employees are attention perspective. They want to be working with inspiring leaders. They want to be working with people that really understand them and give them opportunities. And so, leadership is so important. I'm a huge fan of Ben Francis, the founder of Jim Shark, and he did a fantastic podcast with Stephen Bartlett, the director CEO podcast, where he talks about when he got 360 feedback from his team. I think he was quite upset when he first kind of read it and thought, “No, that's not me.” But actually, I think it was his partner that ended up reading it and saying, “Hey, this is actually a really accurate representation of you”. And therefore, he made some really big changes. And I think in the end he actually ended up sort of kind of stepping down as CEO and focusing on a different role that was better suited for him, basically. And I think it's a really inspiring story and shows the importance of this. And so, that's the power of 360 feedback so important. So like I said, like leadership and great leaders is the third thing on that list.
The fourth thing is a Great Team as well. People want to be working around really talented staff. They say, iron sharpens iron, and so people want to be surrounding themselves with other people who are going to improve them, and they're going to build and all learn and progress together. And so, this may feel like a slight chicken and egg situation because you need a great team to recruit great staff. But then, “if you don't have a great team, how can you recruit great staff and appreciate it,” sounds a bit chicken and egg, but I think the reality is you all have a great team already.
How do you showcase this in your recruitment process? Are your candidates literally just meeting you and don't get to meet the people that they'd be working alongside day today? They're going to spend more time with these employees than they are their wives and husbands, potentially. And, therefore, like, why not give them the opportunity to meet some of them and actually see, “Hey, look, this is who you're gonna be working alongside” And to see firsthand what a great person that employee is, but also hear from them their experience of working at the agency. I think showcasing your team is really keen.
The fifth thing of these seven points is Progression, which no one will be surprised to hear. This is in that seven. That list of seven things candidates are looking for that progression opportunities. And I think again, how can you showcase this? Have you got examples or case studies of people within the team that have been promoted internally after how many years of working in the business or where they have almost sculpted a job role for themselves because they've identified “Hey, there's this opportunity and we're not doing this?” And I'm going to take that on and therefore that gets people excited and gets candidates wanting to work for you because they see that there are those progression opportunities. So again, I think this is a key one. You can't simply make progression happen. Of course, you need a great team. But again, I think the point here is if there are examples where this has happened previously, how do you showcase that in your recruitment process? So anything you'd add to this, by the way, Rob, I just want to check in from you know, it's what I'm listening to you.
I'm just not in my head and I think sort of summarising this whole podcast is that people typically need to be a lot more consideration when they're doing recruitment. They can't just think. “Okay, I need to fill this role.” Let's put a job ad together. Let's put it out there. Let's recruit a few people asking the obvious questions, and then hopefully we'll find an amazing candidate. It's so much more than that. And I think this, I'm looking forward to hearing six or seven. But these seven points should really give people a bit of a framework for putting the whole recruitment process together and thinking about, “How do I weave all of these needs into the conversations I'm having with candidates, even from that job ad and to the first conversation.”
So, yeah, I think it's fantastic. To kind of wrap it up then and finish the sixth and the seventh point. So, the sixth point is Flexible Working. And we touched on this a little bit earlier. In terms of the days of the week that people need to work in the office. What I would say enough about is two or three years ago, flexible working meant something very different to what it does now. I think two or three years ago, you could say you offered flexible working, and it would be you can start up any time between eight and nine and finish anytime between four and five. That is kind of not going to cut it anymore.
Unfortunately, flexible working now really means giving people where possible, like the autonomy to really decide. Like when works best fit for them. Of course, there are going to be some things that you need to almost put in place. We need to work in between these hours, but with childcare, with school runs, for example, that people want to get up at six in the morning before like before their kids are even awake and do a couple of hours, then, for example, but then lock off because they're going to do the school run. But be back on a bit later when they come back on. Do they have the flexibility to do that?
You might be listening to this going “No, that would never work for us.” Well, okay, that's fair enough. However, other agencies are making that work, and therefore, if that's important for one of your employees and you're not offering it because you think it won't work, what's to stop them from going to another agency where they're going? Yeah, we'll be flexible around you, if that's what works for you. You know what? We'll make that work. Yeah. I mean, I just wanted to say if anybody is sitting here thinking this is all fine, but it won't work for me. Then I would really challenge your mindset around that, because no agency is unique, really? And it is absolutely possible.
I think one of the most positive things of the pandemic is it taught us that we can do this, and we can still be efficient. And we can make our working environment more attractive to people because we can flex around their life. And yeah, so I would challenge anyone who is thinking this won't work for me because you can make it work for you if you choose to and like your territory. Otherwise, you're going to lose great candidates to someone who will implement flexible working.
Yeah, exactly. Right. Yet, and I think what's interesting as well as at the time of us recording this, I don't know when this is going to go live, but at the time of this recording this, they're currently trialling the four-day week across the UK like the biggest trial ever, and there'll be some of you thinking, I'm not interested in this four day week like, I don't think it would work for us for this reason or that reason. But the reality is, regardless of how this trial goes, there are already a load of agencies that are doing this. We've got a dozen clients of our own who are doing this. You work on a Monday or a Friday, for example, and over years in two years’ time. Honestly, I think a load of businesses will be doing this said, regardless of the outcome of this trial. And so, do you want to be the agency that does that because you're almost forced to do it? Or do you want to be the agency that dictates this in your terms and says, “Right, we're going to introduce this and this is how we're going to do it” and also know that “Hey, look, there's going to be a benefit from a recruitment process.” What I would also add is that people talk about this four day week. It's not for everyone. And so and I don't just mean that from an employee's perspective, I mean that from an employee's perspective as well, that is not for everyone. Actually, some people are more than happy done or 53 weeks.
So I guess what I don't want to sound like. I'm trying to pressure people into doing it. But what I am saying is like, I think without any doubt, in two years'’ time, we're going to see, like, a load of businesses that are doing this. So, it's just worth making that decision now, or do we want to do it when we kind of have to? Or do we want to do it because we want to do it and we're going to create something that works for us.
Yeah. So, I work a four-day week and I recorded a podcast episode, which I will put in the phone. It's all about how I make a four-day week work. In fact, I do as much work as I used to do in a five-day week, and my revenue hasn't dipped in my four-day working week. You just have to get super-efficient. So, it is possible. And of course, if, as an employer, that's what you're offering, then that suddenly becomes a huge incentive. But as you say, Rory it isn't going to be for everybody, both from employees or employers. But it is just another thing to throw into the mix. And, like you say, more and more companies will probably be doing this over time.
Yeah, not that awesome. And then the seven thing to the final thing candidates are looking for is an Empowered Culture as well within the agency, like people. And I think again, and I don't really like to stereotype and use the sort of millennials and Gen Z kind of phrases too much because I've never felt that I fit into my stereotype particularly well. And I know a load of people that don't fit into theirs either, but so, I won't use those phrases. But certainly, the younger generation again are looking for a bit more autonomy and that empowerment to be able to say, “Hey, I think there's a better way of doing something,” and knowing that their leaders, you know, these great leaders to go back to a 73 there listening to them, and they're saying, “Yeah, OK, we hear you and let's give this a go” or someone saying, “Hey, at my previous agency, we use this particular software and wow, did it make our lives easier?” “Okay, that sounds interesting. Let's give that a try.”
People want to be heard. People want to be able to decide. Hey, look, I think there's a better way of doing this. Actually, I feel I'll work better in this particular environment or within these times. And it's not to say people are dictating anything. Of course, you can say no, you don't have to just be a yes person, but just that these people are feeling heard and that they're affecting change again is so important both for retention for your current employees. But also again, really crucial thing here is of these seven things - How can you showcase all of these seven things within your recruitment process? How can you share with that really talented candidate that “Hey, look, this is what you're going to get if you work for my agency and you might be offered an extra 10 grand to work over here at this huge agency in London.” But look, you won't get these things. I think that's important.
Yeah, that's so interesting. And like I said, if you take those seven needs if you like of a candidate and you use that as a bit of a framework to formulate your recruitment strategy, then you're going to be on a pretty good footing to find candidates that you don't necessarily have to pay more than anybody else because they can see their opportunity and their needs being met.
So, it was really appreciated you sharing that. I just want to wrap this up. I appreciate your time and we could carry on talking as ever for a lot longer. But any final thoughts on this?
I guess my final thought is recruitment. It's a strategy, not a tactic. So, really think about recruitment and think about the experience that you give the candidates during the recruitment process. And also, there's sort of onboarding this first 100 days as a new member of your team, how you're going to get them to fit in as quickly as possible. That's my summation of this. Have you got any very similar to yours, Rob, yet?
But please just make sure you're really thinking about how you recruit because we've got into a habit over years and years of doing the same thing. You created a process 10 years ago for recruitment and how you do that, and probably a step-by-step guide for the questions that you ask in an interview. And you've never had to revisit it, right, because it has worked for 10 years now. Times have changed. Screw that up, rip it up and start again and really just take a day. Just take a day at some point where you just think about, “how am I going to deliver a brilliant candidate experience? What exactly is that going to look like? Who am I going to get involved? Who are the people?” And right now they might not be involved in recruitment at all within the team, but you might identify them as someone who you want to help showcase the value of your agency, and for them, that might be a really exciting opportunity. They might say, “No, I really have no interest in doing this”, but they might say, “This is quite cool. Yeah, I'm getting involved in recruitment. That feels like progression. So, yeah, I'm up for doing that.”
So just my last thought is, Please just put a focus on how you’re delivering that great candidate experience.
Fantastic! We will put a link to both the reports in the show notes. I'll also put a link into the books that Rory mentioned. Of course, Rory's contact details if you want to reach out to him.
But that was another action-packed episode. I know people are going to find this useful. This is an episode that I'm going to be pointing all of my agency clients to go and listen to you because they will learn a lot from this. So, I know the wider audience will. So, as ever thank you so much for joining us today and thanks for sharing your insights with us.
Thanks very much, Rob. It's great to be on here. Yeah, thanks for having me.
Let's see if we can get you on for 1/4 time?