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How looking after your staff can have a positive effect on your clients

Thomas Bray, content and marketing for Talem Recruitment Group

Treat them mean to keep them keen, an age old tactic which should be handled with caution, especially in the workplace. Every working arena will play host to a variety of characters and within reason, great management will help to accommodate them all. The workplace will also dish out its fair share of stress, and although this stress is inevitable and arguably a small portion of it is necessary to promote hard work and solutions, sometimes unneeded stress gets in the way of productivity.

In the recruitment industry there is still a taskmaster culture that treads a fine line between being demanding and lumbering extra unnecessary stress on employees. It’s a given that having thick skin and perseverance is an essential trait for almost every recruitment consultant, however this doesn’t make them indestructible, they deserve an environment that is considered comfortable to work in – not just for themselves but also the business prosperity that follows.

Some recruitment agencies continue to use archaic methods to yield results. The most notorious being the ‘remain standing until you’ve reached your targets’ OR ‘you’ll have your chair taken away if you don’t rack-up enough minutes on your phone’. Now there’s definitely a strong case for standing desks, it encourages a healthier lifestyle and posture, but the standing desk is usually settled on employee choice and there is no constraint to how long you have to stand for. Being told to stand at your desk until you’ve reached your employers target, however, is completely different to promoting an active and healthier lifestyle.

Every workplace will roll out initiatives to help improve staff work rate but making recruitment consultants stand at a desk until they’ve assigned candidates for a job or achieved a placement for a client could be a bridge too far. Despite this being a clear motivator to work harder it undoubtedly harbours additional stress. Imagine having a tiring or bad weekend, you’ve been up all the night with a baby, had a falling out with a partner or went for a long walk in the countryside, only to return to work to be ordered to stand until X, Y and Z is met - annoying, taxing and wholly unwelcomed. Not only is the employer receiving an already fatigued worker but it’s made even worse by this unrelenting ploy to produce faster, greedier results.

Undeniably, some of the team will relish this challenge, as it naturally conjures competitiveness – but for others, it could be a stressful and emotional experience, that does nothing but have a negative effect on their work. Everyone has their own way of doing things, even the shyest or slowest member of the team could be a better recruiter compared to a loud and confident one. The focus should be on a client and candidate relationship, the understanding of an industry and the ability to offer a partnership that poses longevity – not a quick turn of results solely influenced by employee fear or embarrassment.

The usage of these types of ‘productivity programs’ not only emboldens the likelihood of additional personal stress but it may also inadvertently have a negative impact on what’s trying to be achieved – a better business. The more stressed you are, the likelier that mistakes will be made. With added pressure on recruitment consultants to place candidates or reach a specific amount of time on the phones, the actual quality of their work may suffer. The willingness to source only the very best candidate for a role may deteriorate or the way in which consultants engage with candidates and clients may also be effected from a pressured working environment.

A harsh time limit to get results, or a punishment such as taking a chair away will also incite more corners to be cut. The more corners cut, the greater the possibility of a procedure becoming flawed. Overtime the focus to provide a quality service to candidates and clients will slowly turn into disarray, with a rushed and less accurate service unfolding, which could’ve been avoided if success was measured in a different way.

Every job or boss will pen down targets for their staff to hit but surely issuing positive incentives is much better than threatening them with negatives. An example of a recruitment agency using positivity to improve productivity is Astra Recruitment. Situated in an open plan office, which overlooks stunning Dartmoor views, Astra harmoniously marries professionalism with a relaxed working environment.

Eye breaks are encouraged, client and candidate care remains a top priority, team bonding activities are organised and management stay in touch with those that work ‘below’ them. Another determining factor in Astra’s growing success is that company director, Donna Barnes, advocates in-house progression; Kim Lewis, formerly on a logistics desk, was last year promoted to joint company director. So instead of searching for a fully-fledged and experienced director, the company rewarded one of their own to help recognise their hard work. Astra’s competitive edge is still present but instead of using fear (losing a chair), it’s the thought of winning a prize such as a holiday break, that drives staff to perform.

Studies have shown that the right amount of positivity can actually have a bearing on how we think, and over time, increase our success in life. Positivity can broaden the mind and allow creativity to flourish – which is sometimes the key to unlocking stubborn doors. Negative emotions such as fear or worry does the exact opposite, as it limits thinking and narrows a mind-set. What’s more, negativity tends to stick around a lot longer than positivity does, positivity needs to be continually built upon, as fleeting moments is not enough to retain a fruitful atmosphere.

So if positivity can improve productivity, why aren’t more businesses practising this and why do some recruitment agencies still continue to use degrading methods to influence productiveness? Building a reputable recruitment agency takes a lot more than pound signs, it takes appreciated staff who are comfortable in their surroundings and a management style that can bring the best out of them. There’s no doubt that targets can improve work rate but there are thousands of ways to reach these goals without making staff feel unnecessarily stressed.

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