Understanding Recruitment — an apt name for a staffing firm. But understanding extends to the employees as well. Employees testify to the supportive and caring culture at the St-Albans-based firm created by founding directors Chris Jackson and Dale Swords. The staffing firm’s focus is on technology recruitment and it has teams that cover recruitment for software skills like Java, DevOps & Cloud, Mobile & Web and .NET.

“Our retention rate for employees is around 85% to 90%, which is something that we are very proud of,” Jackson says. “Especially in the recruitment industry, which tends to have high turnover rate.” Thanks to the retention rate, the company has a base of loyal and productive employees winning it the 2016 Staffing Industry Analysts Best UK Staffing Firms to Work For in the “10-50 employees” category.

Behind the Retention

The training and care invested in the employees at Understanding Recruitment is what leads to the high retention rate. The founders are extremely selective with recruiting for themselves and promote heavily from within. Their intake of employees consists primarily of employees at the junior level.

“We recruit very carefully for ourselves,” Jackson says.

Both Jackson and Swords have interviewed potential employees for years and they know what to look for and how to retain them.

“We ensure that they are given the right training and support, and that they are performing well and create a culture and environment where people generally support one another,” Swords says.

“As directors, we invest in our employees’ training and development. We tend to recruit at different levels. Last year our training budget grew by 30%, so it’s important for us to enable people to fulfill their potential,” Swords says. “We are keen to promote progression within the business.”

Understanding offers employees 36 training and personnel development programs such as how to effectively interview a candidate, negotiation of skills, handling rejection, customer service and more that covers the recruitment industry.

Career Development

Understanding Recruitment’s competitive difference is the clear career paths it provides. The executives have discerned career progression is crucial for keeping their employees happy and fulfilled.

“It’s not just about paying people a good commission, it’s about making sure that they are a part of something,” Sword says. “We recognize it’s a stressful job and there’s lots of pressure to perform.”

Take Nicola Field, for example. She has been with the company for five years as a team leader and senior corporate account manager. Understanding was her first job out of university. She says the company focuses on investing in their staff and ensuring that “everybody here loves working here.”

Part of that stems from the employees knowing they have a career path. “Everyone here is very ambitious. We all have brilliant goals that we all work toward,” she says.

“One of the best things about working here is the opportunity for training. The career side is so rewarding for everyone here, every year we have staffing targets to work toward,” she adds. At the same time, employees work in an environment that is in general a very flexible and supportive one.

Swords says that making employees feel they are collectively working toward goals is also an important factor in keeping a happy and productive work environment.

Samuel McBroom, a Java technologies recruiter who’s been with the Understanding for six years, agrees. “Everyone here gets along with each other,” he says. “Everyone is really on board with what the company is trying to achieve.”

He’s started with Understanding back when it only had five employees and has seen it grow. He plans to grow in his role and move ahead within the company.

Fun and Games

But it’s not just about hard work and fulfilling ambitions. Understanding also believes in having fun. The firm has its own sports teams, regular nights out together, pool table tournaments, and they also organize charity events and give back to the community.

“We’ve got our own football [soccer] team, which is of a questionable standard,” McBroom says as he laughs. “We have annual barbecues and annual trips.”

“It’s such a fun place to work, it’s rewarding,” he says.

The office also keeps employee motivation and competitive spirit high with contests and exciting prizes.

“Every year we have staffing targets and opportunities in place including ‘Winner’s trips abroad,’” Field says.

For this contest, the employee who wins the competition for staffing targets is awarded a vacation to destinations such as the Americas and the Caribbean. Other prizes include vouchers for stores in London.

In addition, the firm recognizes loyal employees — those who have been with the company for more than five years.

“We have long service awards, it’s a thank you from our side not to take them for granted,” Field says. The long service award recognizes employees who have been with the company for five, 10 years and so on. This is turn further strengthens retention.

Strong Values

Retention notwithstanding, it’s the company’s core values that help with customers. When asked what the company’s strongest values were, McBroom says it’s about quality and customer service. “We’re very passionate about making sure we give the best and do the best for every person we speak to, be it candidate, client or colleague,” McBroom says. The approach is ethical and honest. “What we say we are going to deliver to our clients and candidates, we do deliver,” Field chimes in. “The company’s numerous awards including the 2014 APSCo’s Innovator of the Year award reflect that.”

At the end of the day, employees feel they are making a difference. “We communicate our vision, everyone here wants to be a part of something that we all believe is something special,” Sword says.