A Simple Mission
Knowing your clients, candidates leads to success
Understanding Recruitment gets what it takes to be a successful staffing firm. After all, it was the grand-prize winner last year as well. Its mission is simple: to understand its clients and candidates. This approach helps the company gain insights and provide a more comprehensive service. And helped it land once more on Staffing Industry Analysts’ Best Staffing Firms to Work For list. Understanding Recruitment is also celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year.
The company knows its own employees and creates an environment where people want to work and progress within the firm. When founding directors Chris Jackson and Dale Swords conducted reviews, they asked employees what the key difference was between Understanding Recruitment and their previous companies. The consensus: Everyone who is working at Understanding Recruitment wants to be there.
“I thought that was a great summary of the environment and the culture here,” Jackson says. “It’s a company in where everyone is really proud of our achievements as a business.”
“We’ve got a high-performing team, but what we also do is try to do the job to a really high standard, so a lot of our business is repeated,” Jackson says. “I think people are proud of the job that they do, the company and the values.”
Swords echoes Jackson’s feelings and believes authenticity plays a key role.
“We genuinely care about what we do and we absolutely share a vision, and not just as directors but as a team in its entirety and in terms of the direction we want to go in,” Swords says. At the beginning of the year, Understanding Recruitment has a “Strategy Day” where the company shares its vision and seeks employee input on how they want to drive the business forward as well as what they need to do to be brilliant at their jobs.
Acquiring Skills, Moving Up
Sam McBroom, the Java team leader for Understanding Recruitment, was the fifth person to join the company and he’s shared their vision now for more than seven years. He’s also seen his contemporaries move up to management positions throughout that time and credits the firm’s training and development program.
Understanding Recruitment also sends its managers and manager-trainees out on developmental programs to help them acquire the skills they need to become great managers. The company also finances outside training programs that their employees feel could be effective in developing their skills.
“We have a real comprehensive training program,” Jackson says. “Our modular training program includes a final exam at the end of it, which is based around different important areas around the recruitment lifestyle and everyone coming into the business goes through that program.”
Jackson and Swords credit the company’s training and development for its high retention rate as well as “creating a positive environment where people really want to work and are well looked-after and well rewarded,” Swords says.
“It’s vitally important that we offer career progression at every level and across the board and for every position,” Swords says.
McBroom also agreed that a career path at the company is straightforward and clear and provides all employees with the opportunity to keep moving up.
The team at Understanding Recruitment works and trains hard but they also play hard and they understand that the new generation of workers is looking for a better balance of work and life.
Employees have taken trips together to places such as Miami and Monaco. The team puts together a six-month target to travel somewhere around Europe and then another 12-month target to travel further afield. Last year they went to Las Vegas and this year they plan on traveling to St. Lucia in the Caribbean, all paid for by the company. They also go out for drinks and dinner at the end of the week.
“As you can imagine, that really motivates and inspires people,” Jackson says. “Everyone within the business, not just those on the sales floor, have the opportunity to go on these trips. We fully embrace everyone.”
Eilish Murphy, senior resourcer, described just how exciting working at Understanding Recruitment can be.
“Understanding is really keen to keep the team morale strong,” Murphy says. “In the summer we go punting, we go out for dinner and dragon boat racing on the Thames. It’s motivation as the company wants you to hit all of your goals and targets.”
“The recruitment environment here is a very cohesive one,” Jackson says. “It is not an environment where everyone is out for themselves. People generally help each other and it just benefits us having that culture of helping upskill and assist each other.” “Naturally recruitment feels like sales, but the way Understanding is, it does not feel like a cutthroat sales environment when you work here,” Murphy says. “It is very collaborative team. There are buddy systems in place and there’s coaching available.” Jackson and Swords are aware that the recruitment industry means long hours, so they are proud to offer their employees flexible working hours.
“Recruitment is generally a pretty tough job,” Jackson says. “We don’t have an environment where we force people to work long hours. They are given freedom and responsibility and accountability to do the hours, that they see fit to do this job.”
“While we do have flexibility and we have people working from home, we also offer sabbaticals for anyone who has been here for over five years,” Jackson adds. “We also offer flexibility for individuals to work part-time due to family commitments.” And employees who use the sabbaticals often go on long trips.
“For us it’s about creating an environment where people obviously want to stay and they feel supported,” Swords says. “It’s about making sure that we are engaged with as many people as possible. We’re very open to having people be able to upskill and giving them the freedom to learn and to flourish.”
Understanding Recruitment also has an annual long-service award for which more and more people qualify, a testament to the high retention rate of the company.
As for earning a Best Staffing Firm to Work For distinction, Jackson says it gives the company credibility. “For us, it’s a recognition of a great job that we have done and this award goes a long way to help back it up and show that we are who we say we are. Getting this recognition is great for us internally and externally to be recognized. We’re still not a big company yet, but the award is an absolutely huge opportunity and something we are really proud to be associated with.”
Swords says the recognition gives them pride — pride for the team and pride for customers as “it gives them a huge amount of satisfaction.”
This year, the company has plans to expand into the United States and take some of its employees there, a move which all of Understanding Recruitment’s employees are excited for.