Looking After Its Own

Established in Swindon in 1990 by founder Paul Jameson, Outsource UK is one of the country’s largest independent technical recruitment agencies with offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

But it wasn’t just the agency’s growth and success that attracted current CEO Nick Dettmar to join their team. “When you meet people from Outsource UK,” he says, “you get that feeling that they care — about their job, about their colleagues and about others. People genuinely care for the business and for each other.” Currently, the organisation has more than 70 internal professionals.

Dettmar’s career in staffing began at The Adecco Group in 1996; he was serving as managing director for professional staffing across UK&I when he left the company in 2010. He spent the next five years at Impellam Group as the divisional managing director of the organisation’s science, engineering and technical brands before joining Outsource UK as COO.

He found the agility and energy that came with a privately owned midmarket organisation attractive and was especially drawn to the company’s core values of what the company calls the ACID test — accountability, consultativeness, integrity and dedication. “I liked Outsource’s family feel. It felt like a good fit for me,” he explains. And he was right: After working alongside Jameson for just two years, Dettmar became CEO in 2018 when Jameson stepped down.

Since then, Outsource UK has moved away from strictly transactional operations to a more consultative and advisory partnership with its clients. Operating in financial services, defense and logistics, and other sectors that require strict compliance, Outsource prides itself on its expertise in highly regulated markets.

“We differentiate ourselves by being the experts with the deepest understanding of those markets,” Dettmar says. “We’re proactive in this way by looking after our contractors and clients in sectors where there is no room for error. These types of advisory services have become how we win new business, how we grow our value and invest organically throughout the UK.”

But while Outsource strives for external success and company growth, the organisation also understands the importance of looking after its own.

“I want the recognition [of a Best Place to Work] for all our communities,” Dettmar says. After all, “if our internal and external workforces don’t feel that it’s a great place to work, then we won’t keep them very long!”

Cultivating Within

To that end, Outsource’s leadership works hard to recognise ambitious employees and cultivate their career aspirations within the organisation — even if it means cross-training someone in a new skill set to facilitate that upward trajectory.

“We don’t always need a new director of this or that,” Dettmar explains. “But over the past five years, we’ve had people take significant directional changes, and now they’re growing in their career within the organisation.” It’s a win-win for the company, he notes, with the employees succeeding and satisfied — and the company retains their incredible talent.

Take Rebecca Inns, who joined Outsource UK in 2013 as a recruiter and eagerly moved upward within the organisation, first as a delivery lead and then an operations lead on the accounts management side. “I sound like I’m quite bossy!” she laughs. “But I’m really good at details and getting the job done. Outsource saw that and knew they could utilise those skills in different roles. And that makes me feel valued and recognised.”

Seeing her potential, Outsource moved Inns into her current role as operations manager of shared services — right at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, which Inns jokingly calls her baptism by fire. “I went on holiday 23rd February, and when I came back on 6th March, the first task I was given was to manage my team, whom I didn’t know well yet, in the transition to fully remote work!” But, drawing on her previous leadership experience within the organisation, Inns rose to the task. “We were all facing a completely new horizon together,” she says. Fortunately, she notes, the company already had the tech in place, with all its IT, including its phone system, being cloud-based.

Realizing that even under normal circumstances, a team might feel uncertain about a new manager, she wasted no time establishing good communication to bring them all together. “I started a morning meeting so we could start the day with our successes. We also bonded by talking about what we were all watching on Netflix, or what it was like venturing out to the shops.” Now, eight months later, Inns and her team are a tight-knit bunch, working together effectively and supporting each other even though fully remote. “We do good work because we’re a team of good people!”

Fostering Camaraderie

Inns’ team is a reflection of the organisation as a whole in the importance it places on internal camaraderie. Employees often check up on their more isolated colleagues, and some have even offered to run errands for those who couldn’t go out for themselves during lockdown. Teams challenge one another in virtual trivia nights and hold parties over Zoom to celebrate successes and milestones. Branch champions organise virtual charity events, bake offs, walking challenges and seasonal celebrations. And to make the virtual end-of-year event in July truly memorable, Outsource sent each employee a small stove and marshmallows for a virtual “campfire night,” inviting the whole team to enjoy a toasted treat as they swapped lockdown stories against a bonfire background on Zoom.

Even the newer members of the Outsource team know that there is something special about the organisation. “From day one I was welcomed,” says executive consultant Henry Wright, who joined the company in September 2019. “Everyone looks out for one another. It’s not just work, it’s new friends.” Wright adds that this camaraderie is especially notable in his sales team, where roles are shared based on colleagues’ strengths and niche specialties. “When I’m speaking to clients, I can say that we offer dedicated people in each area who can address their particular needs. We feel as one, and it’s a good balance!”

Like Inns, Wright sees his motivation recognised and his ambitions fostered at Outsource. “At previous companies, I was always given one small area to work in and roles to fill,” he notes. “But Outsource let me develop a more 360-degree position, including sales skills and winning new business.” With regular training and managerial guidance and feedback, Wright was given free rein to compose and tailor a sales plan. The trust placed in him helped bolster his confidence, and now Wright is with the organisation for the long haul with plans to stay in the management track.

“All around, Outsource has been brilliant for me,” he says with a smile. “The company invests in its teams. You’re rewarded for the work you put in, and you’re encouraged to share those benefits with each other.”