Recruiting and retaining staff

With over 13 years’ experience recruiting into the financial services industry, SRM Recruitment Co-Founder Rory MacSween is familiar with the ‘merry-go-round’ effect that bonus season often creates on staffing. Who better to ask about recruiting and retaining staff in bonus season? Learn how your firm can make the most of this candidate-rich market whilst retaining your top talent.

How does the recruitment market change at this time of year, Rory?
After any big holiday period, but particularly after the Christmas holidays, there will be a surge in enquiries from potential candidates, looking for a new opportunity. People have had time to reflect on what they really want from their job, and start to put the feelers out for what else could be out there, in terms of a new challenge.
This time of year is particularly busy because there are a lot of candidates pre-empting the conversation they expect to have with their manager about their bonus, pay rise and promotion. If they are in any doubt that the result won’t be what they want, they are preparing to find a better package elsewhere.

The impact of all this cyclical change on a small team can be particularly hard, so it’s important to understand what’s going on and to anticipate the trend.

Is it any different this year?
I think this year does feel different. We’ve had a lot of political and economic uncertainty over the last few years which has negatively impacted confidence among candidates and clients. It’s hard to make a sweeping statement across financial services, but our tax clients seem more positive now – they’re interested to see what impact our departure from the EU will have on legislation and recruitment seems stimulated by a need to understand that change.

The renewed positivity has increased candidate confidence. With less concern about being ‘last in, first out’, thanks to improved stability, candidates are feeling more inclined to put their heads above the parapet to see what opportunities are out there.

The net result is that in some markets, particularly for more senior roles, there is an increasing volume of very high calibre candidates, making it a very competitive talent pool.

So now would be a good time to bring in new talent?
Yes, absolutely. In smaller firms, where there are fewer opportunities for progression or sideways moves, there are certain roles you know will have a relatively high turnover. Anticipating this departure and planning your recruitment to make the most of this candidate-rich period can be advantageous. Similarly, you may be aware of people showing a higher likelihood of ‘flight risk’ when bonus, promotion and pay rise news is shared.

What about the staff I want to keep? How can I retain my top talent?
If you are aware that an employee is likely to get a less-than-desired bonus or will be overlooked for promotion, you should be having a conversation with them well in advance about that situation. If individuals are disillusioned with their prospects at your firm, it’s important to talk openly about what can be done to improve them, laying out a pathway for progression.

Your most talented employees should not have to wait until they resign and get a counter-offer from you to understand the value they bring to the organisation. Appraisals should be done regularly, throughout the year, and not just annually, so that both parties can share their expectations of each other.

How can SRM Recruitment help?
Our offering is based on a consultative relationship with our clients and candidates. It’s important that we fully understand your needs as early as possible so we can help you devise your recruitment strategy around these cyclical trends.

With a wide range of clients across the industry, we’re also well-positioned to offer advice on salary and benefits benchmarking, to ensure that you are best placed to retain and attract the talent you need.

If you would like to discuss your hiring needs with me or any of the SRM Recruitment team, we’d love to chat – just get in touch.

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