By Neil Minter, Head of Recruitment
It is 3 years since I took up the position of Recruitment Manager for the Axis Group and over this time we have developed our strategy and supporting processes to make sure we seek to recruit and retain the best talent to provide the highest standard of service to our customers. Through this time there has been some excellent evidence of our colleagues’ personal development and promotions, both at site, Head Office and Regional Management offices across the UK.
Statistics published in the media often cause confusion, with some implying that there have been increases in unemployment in some areas and others saying that we are at record high levels. Overall in simple terms the UK Unemployment is at an 11-year low, at a rate of just 4.8%. The total number in employment is now 31.8 million, which is an increase of 2.8 million since 2010.
This in itself means that the battle to attract staff to jobs advertised is extremely challenging. The problem is not restricted to the Security Industry and there are many examples of other professions looking at different tactics to fill the void in the market, or even rethink how they had planned to deal with particular issues that had been identified. Examples include London Ambulance Service looking to Australia and New Zealand to seek new recruits to bring to England to take positions available and more recently (December 2016) the Government announcing that it was scrapping a scheme only launched a year ago that was intended to parachute “elite teachers” into struggling schools.
Where does this leave us and Axis Security? Well, like other security companies we have had to rethink how we recruit. I have developed good working relations with the Department for Work and Pensions ‘National Employer and Partnership Team’ and many other organisations that exist to support people into employment, be it through ‘back to work’ schemes or other ‘training packages’ that are in place to assist in placing a candidate through the training to get their SIA Licence. This approach for the last 3 years has resulted in many people gaining and sustaining longer term employment with us, some of which who have gone on to gain promotion and demonstrate great personal development, as well as the excellent service they can deliver.
Axis Security advertises vacancies in more places than most other security companies, with outlets including our own website, Indeed, Universal JobMatch, Reed, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Newspapers (both local and national publications where relevant). If you ever want to know what positions are available then log onto the ‘Careers’ page within our website. Most jobs are listed individually, however we are also in the process of trialling building up pools of talent by having generic regional adverts. This is where there might not be a job that suits someone at the time they look at our website, however they can send their CV for review and if it passes the initial review we will send a link to a web based application form for the candidate to complete. Their details are then reviewed by the Operations Teams when positions are available.
Where are our areas of concern? Naturally we want to recruit high calibre staff to join us across all of our Regions, however some areas do prove to be more challenging than others. If I advertise a role in Central London it is not uncommon to receive over 500 applications within a couple of weeks. Other areas, such as Wiltshire, I may struggle to get 10 people responding within the same time period. Sometimes I am asked why the criteria on adverts is worded in the way it is. There are often good reasons, all of our licensable activities require our teams to hold the required Security Industry Authority Licence. Sometimes we might have to specify that a ‘Door Supervisors’ Licence is needed, or another particular skill. Whatever the content of the advert, there will always be a good reason for us to ask for the criteria that is set.
We have introduced a Recruit A Friend Scheme to reward our colleagues who bring new talent into the business. There are various tiers to the reward system and it depends on the role being filled as to the amount of reward that can be received. The criteria is simple, once a person introduces a friend to the company and the friend works for a period of 6 months and then 12 months there are 2 payments that can be claimed. Security Officers introduced by a friend into the company can result in two potential payments of £100 each. Some other roles can result in much higher payments. The process is managed carefully to avoid abuse, however many of our colleagues around the UK have benefitted from payments.
I have already mentioned that we have improved our retention of staff and we have great examples of progression to more senior roles, be it at site or office level. Some Security Officers have progressed to Supervisor and also to Manager level within the time that I have been in post. A considerable proportion of the Operations Team at our Head Office have also developed through internal promotions. I continue to stress the point to all supervisors and managers that supporting, developing and retaining our staff is just as important as the drive to attract new talent into the business.
2017 will see the introduction of the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy. The Axis Group meets the criteria that will mean we have to pay a levy and then seek to draw money from the funds to help with delivering training. Through a joint partnership working approach we will seek to identify, recruit and train new candidates that want to come into the security industry. All the details on this project have yet to be finalised, but it looks positive for assisting us to address some of the current challenges.
So in summary, it’s one of the toughest challenges for the business at present, and I expect it to get tougher, rather than easier over the coming months, however done right, recruitment and retention are essential for the effective continued service that we strive to deliver. I welcome support and constructive views from any that want to help bring new talent into the company.
Our general recruitment email address for contact is firstname.lastname@example.org.