Recruitment and transformation – the road to change



Transformation – the business buzzword of the decade. But what is transformation and how does recruitment fit in?


You may have noticed, but businesses are either starting or in the middle of implementation of ‘transformation programmes’ and it would be fair to say that the recession of recent years has given many the impetus to re-engineer core processes, restructure their organisations and seek out innovative new ideas to drive productivity and reduce cost.

A topic much closer to my heart, is how recruitment fits in and supports a transformation programme but more to the point, how businesses transform the recruitment function itself. A business’s attitude towards the structure and make up of their staff is so fundamental to the success of a transformation programme and recruitment plays a focal part in this. Often you will hear businesses saying, ‘Our people are our greatest asset.’ As cliched as it is, I do actually believe this to be true because without the right, engaged and motivated people in your business, you will simply not have a viable business, which I’ve learned from experience.

As part of the evolution of recruitment in the UK, in steps the in-house recruitment movement, which is growing as more companies become aware of the importance and subsequent necessity to take control of their own recruitment, relying less on agencies to do the ‘heavy lifting’ for them. But like so many recruitment trends that have followed from the US, in-house recruitment is still on the journey to maturity. After all, creating an in-house recruitment model is a complex task that includes having a strategy, building a brand and a ‘following’; hiring a team of professionals to handle the sourcing, assessment and interviewing; buying and implementing technology such as an ATS or video interviewing; interview, diversity and inclusion training; hiring techniques… the list runs long, in fact way past these few key ingredients I’ve cherry picked!   If you are going to re-structure your recruitment to cope with changing business needs, where on Earth do you start? And where does  recruitment sit in the overall scheme of things? Is it an intertwined part of HR or does it exist as a specialist area in it’s own right?

I have observed an interesting fact recently that many in-house recruitment teams are managing large volumes of roles with small numbers of staff. This is a tough position for recruiters to be in and there are many vendors eagerly waiting to show them the next best thing in technology or technique to help them solve this problem.  While this great in principle, I know as well as the next recruiter, trying to assess all these great new ideas while filling jobs hand over fist, is a pure juggling act. Business cases need to be prepared and signed off on too which adds to the workload so the time it takes to implement a technology or solution can often be put on the back burner due to other priorities that are perceived to be more important.

Matt Halsey, Managing Director of Create + Adapt speaks on the topic about his experience as an independent consultant in the resourcing field:

“In a world where nearly anyone can be found (you can tweet a CEO and even track your takeaway food from prep to your door), we all have this need to feel more connected and consume information. Unfortunately, we are still somewhat behind this concept when reviewing in-house resourcing approaches, systems and mind-sets. A question I’m often asked in businesses is, “where should resourcing sit”? Should it sit within marketing, alongside the CEO, HR or finance? My answer is always for it to sit in the department that allows it the most creativity to express your brand to your customers.

I’m not a fan of the word “transformation”. I find it to mean a grand gesture of change. Most of the time, what I see, read and look to apply is the smallest or simplest of changes that make the biggest impact. If you start measuring quality as opposed to pace and volume, you achieve a different output. If your candidate journey moves from transactional to personable you achieve a different experience. Technology will help enable your processes, they may save time, they may automate, but to date nothing can still replace the art of a human conversation. “

Despite my recruitment technology focus in the last few years, Matt and I share a similar vision when it comes to recruitment, about focusing on quality as a key output using change as a driver. After all transformation is about ‘changing’ the way you do things. But being overwhelmed with the many things you could change within your recruitment process can sometimes force people to revert to the status quo. So making a few small adjustments over a given time period, might just be the ticket to get things rolling and subtly move you in the right direction, rather than a grand transformation programme that is too big to manage. Small steps, big changes!

I leave you with a saying from my favourite scientist Albert Einstein on procrastination and change:

Albert Einstin Nothing happens until something moves