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Category Archives: productivity

Cosima Marriner and Peter Martin
May 22, 2009

THE chairman of Australia’s largest company, BHP Billiton, has contradicted assurances by the Rudd Government, Treasury and Reserve Bank that an economic recovery is imminent, warning instead it will be “protracted and complex”.

Speaking at his old high school in Brisbane yesterday, Don Argus said he was “pessimistic” about prospects for recovery in the short term.

His comments follow spirited defences by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry and Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens of growth forecasts in last week’s federal budget. The economy is projected to grow above 4.5 per cent from the middle of 2011, a forecast economists have questioned and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has labelled “completely unbelievable”.

“(Dr Henry and Mr Stevens) have got the levers of the economy,” Mr Argus said. “I’ve got a balance sheet, I’ve got revenue statements, I deal with customers, I’m a contributor to the Australian economy … I’m just calling it from where I see it.”

Mr Stevens tipped on Tuesday that “a recovery will get under way towards the end of the year”. But Mr Argus warned it would be a “pretty tough” 2009 and 2010. “We can hope for recovery. We should also have contingency plans for scenarios where world capital markets continue to provide surprises on the downside.”

He said that while some people would call his comments pessimism, “I prefer to call it caution that 50 years in corporate life engenders … The current outlook is very uncertain.

“It’s very much reliant on the Government, corporate and regulatory response to the global financial crisis. It will be a difficult transition period. Governments and corporates have to pay off debt and rebuild their balance sheets.”

He predicted that Australians who had so far been shielded from the impact of the crisis would start to be affected, as the Government was forced to pay back debt incurred with its stimulus packages. “They can’t do that without budget cuts and increasing taxation.”

Mr Argus based his analysis on an International Monetary Fund report, his own analysis of the 1987 crash, and business conditions BHP is experiencing. “The IMF report makes it easy to conclude that the road to economic recovery will be slow, hence my cautious response to the recent political rhetoric.”

He said the recovery would be under way when financial institutions had access to good liquidity and had dealt with distressed assets, and weak institutions had been recapitalised.

His comments came as it was revealed Australians paid off $19.7 billion of credit card debt in March — the second-biggest amount on record — as $900 and $950 cheques directed at single-income families, carers and parents of children at school went out. The record for card repayments was in December, when stimulus cheques of between $1000 and $2000 went out.

There was also a spending surge in March, with credit cards getting their second-biggest work-out on record, again exceeded only in December. “We’re both spending and saving at the same time,” CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said.

The next stimulus payments began hitting bank accounts in April, suggesting spending and saving will continue to climb.

Some of the extra spending appears to have gone on cars, passenger vehicle sales up a seasonally adjusted 1.8 per cent in April after months of decline.

The rebound is consistent with a Westpac-Melbourne Institute survey this week showing a rise in consumer sentiment.

Other figures showed that average full-time earnings climbed 5.6 per cent to more than $61,000 in the year to February. But the rate of increase is slowing as fewer hours and less overtime are worked.

“Workers in the public sector are enjoying better conditions than private sector workers,” said Commonwealth Bank economist James McIntyre.

“Public sector households are getting the benefits of significant interest rate cuts, stimulus payments, petrol price falls and tax cuts without the job security concerns.”

Meanwhile, new figures yesterday showed investment in minerals and energy projects hit a record high in April, defying budget forecasts.

http://business.theage.com.au/business/bhp-at-odds-on-recovery-20090521-bh6e.html

It’ll make you a better employee, according to an Australian study that shows surfing the Internet for fun during office hours increases productivity.

The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not.

Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said “workplace Internet leisure browsing,” or WILB, helped to sharpened workers’ concentration.

“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” Coker said on the university’s website (www.unimelb.edu.au/)

“Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days’ work, and as a result, increased productivity,” he said.

According to the study of 300 workers, 70 percent of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB.

Among the most popular WILB activities are searching for information about products, reading online news sites, playing online games and watching videos on YouTube.

“Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos, using social networking sites or shopping online under the pretence that it costs millions in lost productivity,” said Coker. “That’s not always the case.”

However, Coker said the study looked at people who browsed in moderation, or were on the Internet for less than 20 percent of their total time in the office.

“Those who behave with Internet addiction tendencies will have a lower productivity than those without,” he said.

(Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Valerie Lee)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090402/lf_nm_life/us_work_internet;_ylt=Ajv93cQKOzgitgxsVSCbHBsDW7oF

Posted Wed May 13, 2009 8:00am AEST
Updated Wed May 13, 2009 8:06am AEST

The Community and Public Sector Union has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to remove the extra 2 per cent efficiency dividend imposed on the public sector.

The Government did not include the additional dividend in last night’s Budget. Government departments will now have to reduce their running costs by 1.25 per cent rather than 3.25 per cent over the next financial year.

CPSU national secretary Stephen Jones says while the union would like to see the efficiency dividend removed altogether, it is a welcome first step.

“It’s a welcome surprise, we’ve been campaigning hard in the community over the last nine months to have that special efficiency dividend knocked off,” he said.

“That’s a good start but there’s more work to be done to ensure that this blunt instrument which is a tax on jobs and a tax on services is removed from the Budget in future years.”

Mr Jones says on the jobs front, the Budget has delivered mixed results.

He says the Government has created around 3,200 real jobs.

“Unfortunately at the same time it’s axed around 1,700 existing positions, that to us doesn’t make sense – you don’t create jobs by cutting them,” he said.

“So on a critical test, the Government gets about five out of 10 on public sector jobs.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/05/13/2568745.htm?section=justin

Get ready for this. A regular debate as we move into an environmental- economic zero-sum game:

Do we want one thing at the expense of the other, when the city dwellers feel happy about the protection of the birds at the cost of the jobs of others? When the need to preserve low skilled, low value adding and inefficient jobs outweighs the cost of their ecological impact?

_______________________________________________________________________________
Feathers ruffled … moves to protect a rare parrot have put timber workers’ jobs in jeopardy.
By staff writers and wires | May 11, 2009

A PARROT is about to cost 1000 workers their jobs because the Federal Government has ordered a timber industry to be shut down to protect the bird.

The unprecedented government intervention will see the jobs cut within days.

The Daily Telegraph has learned Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s department issued a stop-work order to the New South Wales Government 10 days ago, a move the industry claims could wipe out the entire town of Deniliquin in the state’s south.

The Opposition says the move is overkill and has branded Mr Garrett a “warbling twit”.

“There are a lot of them out there,” Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said of the parrots.

“As one person put it to me this morning, you’ve got the warbling twit protecting the green leak parrot but sacrificing 1000 jobs.”

The Environment Department ordered New South Wales cease all clear felling of red gum in the Central Murray Darling region – timber used mainly for firewood and railway sleepers – due to concerns over the future of the parrot.

Sometimes referred to as the green leek parrot, the social bird nests in the hollows of the red gums and is nationally listed as vulnerable.

Conservationists claim the flight patterns of the bird, which lives for up to 25 years, are being disrupted as it does not like flying over open spaces.

The discovery hundreds of families face losing their livelihoods comes a day before Treasurer Wayne Swan hands down a Budget aiming to help buffer the country against unemployment.

The State Government is seeking an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mr Garrett, claiming the intervention by the Commonwealth to declare the logging illegal would cause the immediate loss of at least 500 timber jobs and 360 indirectly related jobs.

The NSW Government is also seeking legal advice on whether it can get around the Federal Government order, which has given NSW State Forests until May 31 to stop logging of the Central Murray wetlands in the Riverina area or face legal action.

A Forests NSW briefing note obtained by The Daily Telegraph warned 11 sawmills would be forced to close overnight and 800 people would lose their jobs along with the closure of an industry worth $60 million to the NSW economy.

It accused the Federal Government of being cavalier in its approach to NSW by acting before a $2 million State Government funded Environmental Impact Statement on logging in the area had been completed.

It was due to go on public exhibition a day later on June 1.

The Daily Telegraph has obtained a letter of demand to stop work, written on May 1 from Mr Garrett’s secretary for the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), Rose Webb, to Forests NSW manager Garry Rodda.

Ms Webb raised concerns about the impacts of the State Government’s harvesting practices on the birds’ flight patterns and nesting habitat.

With The Daily Telegraph and AAP

Michelle Grattan and Tim Colebatch
May 12, 2009

The second Rudd Government budget will predict a huge $58 billion deficit.

TONIGHT’S second Rudd Government budget will predict a huge $58 billion deficit in the new financial year — a record 4.9 per cent of GDP, higher than in any post-war recession.

It will also estimate almost a million people will be unemployed, with the unemployment rate rising from 5.4 per cent to 8.5 per cent.

Costello: Swan ‘desperate’
Peter Costello accuses Wayne Swan of desperation over the looming budget deficit but fails to answer whether he would run a deficit himself.

The budget will cut into so-called middle-class welfare, and slice spending in other areas, but the collapse of revenue and the cost of the earlier stimulus packages will bring a string of red numbers.

The deficit is an $80 billion turnaround since the forecasts in last year’s budget.

The leak of the figure last night prompted the Opposition to declare that “the Australian Labor Party has lost control of the nation’s finances”.

The Government will today seek to rush through a bill to allow it to keep $365 million in revenue collected from its defeated alcopop tax. It has also signalled that it will try again to get the tax hike through the Senate.

Its fate will depend on a change of heart by Family First senator Steve Fielding, who voted against it last time. There is agreement to validate the $365 million already collected.

Treasury now forecasts that the economy’s collapse will lift unemployment to record levels. While the unemployment rate is expected to peak at 8.5 per cent, well below its 10.9 per cent peak in the last recession, the total numbers out of work would rise even above the 933,000 unemployed in December 1992.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, preparing to justify the unprecedented deficit, said Treasury advice to be published in the budget was that if the Government had not brought in its earlier stimulus measures, unemployment would have reached 10 per cent.

The budget would “support the jobs of today by investing in the infrastructure we need for tomorrow”, Mr Rudd said yesterday.

Treasury’s advice was “the final nail in the coffin for those who argue that governments should do nothing to support jobs during a global recession”.

“We are in the worst recession, the worst global recession since the Great Depression,” Mr Rudd said.

Meanwhile former NSW Labor treasurer Michael Costa launched a sharp attack on the Government, saying he had always taken the view “the Prime Minister and his Treasurer don’t know what they are doing”. The stimulus had been a “disaster”, Mr Costa said.

“The issue comes down to how many jobs did you actually save for that level of spending and the cost-benefit of the stimulus becomes an issue.”

A pension rise of about $30 a week, a go-ahead for major infrastructure programs and the promised parental leave scheme will be among the budget’s good news, but many people will be hit in the hip pocket by losing their private health insurance rebate and superannuation concessions.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the Rudd Government was “a reckless spender”. “Every man, every woman and every child will have a burden of $2600 just for next year’s budget.”

But he refused to say what would be an appropriate level of debt. Mr Hockey said it was “inconceivable that we could have such a deterioration of unemployment in such a short time. We left the Labor Party with unemployment levels at 4 per cent, with a $22 billion surplus, with no debt.”

Mr Rudd said every government worldwide was “engaged in temporary borrowing”.

The Government has the added problem of a hostile Senate, which puts at risk some of its savings measures.

The Opposition is reserving its positions on measures such as the means test on the private health insurance rebate, which has been criticised by Senator Fielding and independent senator Nick Xenophon.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said this was “unquestionably a broken election promise. “There was no election promise that was made more repeatedly or more emphatically by Mr Rudd than that there would be no change to the private health insurance rebate.”

Attempting to apply heat to the Coalition, Treasurer Wayne Swan said: “The Opposition on the one hand can’t be out there saying they’ll support a pension increase, then knock back the savings that make that pension increase sustainable for the long term. They can’t have it both ways.”

Mr Swan said the budget was complex. “We have to stimulate the economy now to support employment. We have to make room for vital investments and also for pensions.

“But also, we’ve got to make those longer-term savings that bring the budget back to sustainability over time given the new global circumstances.”

Business confidence has picked up — the NAB confidence index held on to most of its gains in April to come in at a near six-month high of minus 14 points, well above the minus 32 points recorded in January.

With BRENDAN NICHOLSON, SARAH-JANE COLLINS and PETER MARTIN

http://www.theage.com.au/national/get-ready-for-58bn-deficit-and-million-jobless-20090511-b0mb.html?page=-1

08 May 2009 8:24am

Employers should stop thinking about recruitment and retention with a “war” mentality, and approach talent mobility with a new mindset, according to Melbourne Business School’s Dr Ian Williamson.

“The war for talent is over,” he told the Australasian Talent Conference in Sydney yesterday, “but it’s not because of the economic recession; it’s because talent won”.

“From the [employer] perspective, there’s no coming back from this defeat.”

Even while voluntary turnover has decreased as a result of the global economic downturn, the mobility of top talent has continued. “That hasn’t stopped at all, and if you talk to business leaders what they’ll tell you is the time to really get somebody of top talent is when you’re having a difficult business period.

“I don’t think that a recession has any impact on those individuals who are truly skilled in their position. Those individuals are always going to be in demand. So while we may have had some cooling off with voluntary turnover rate, for those truly valuable individuals this hasn’t been a big impact.”

Employers must work out how to deal with employee mobility, he says, because it will only increase.

“War” mentality unhelpful
The “war for talent” mentality of the last 10 years has not enhanced employers’ understanding of how to deal with mobility, says Williamson, an associate professor of management at the Melbourne Business School. The common thinking has been that when an employer lures talent from a competitor, it has “won” (and the competitor has “lost”), but he questions whether the issue is really that cut and dry.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs, he points out, pioneered a different way of thinking when it recognised that the hedge funds started up by former top talent became some of its most lucrative clients – “they lost talent, but it wasn’t as if they didn’t get something out of this”.

Employee mobility is not “win or lose”, he says. Employers must see every employee as a potential source of “social capital” and potential goodwill ambassador for the organisation – someone who will say good things about the business and help generate revenue.

So employers should think: “While I may no longer have access to your human capital – your knowledge skills and abilities – and while I may no longer have you as an employee, that does not mean that the organisation cannot still derive value from the relationships that we have developed over time.”

Develop alumni, manage exits
There are two broad ways to manage talent mobility, Williamson says. The first is to develop formal ties with ex-employees through alumni programs.

In most organisations now, “at best we might give them a pat on the back and say ‘good luck’; at worst we might think of them as traitors.

“But very rarely in organisations do we think and strategically plan to have an ongoing relationship with them.”

He points out: “We spend millions and millions of dollars on recruitment, trying to get people who have no relationship with us to talk to us – people who have no reason to pick up the phone – we call them all the time and plead ‘please, please, please pick up the phone to have a conversation with us’.

“How much time and energy do we spend trying to call people who used to work for us, who like us, who know us and who would gladly give us 30 minutes to talk about what’s going on in our organisation? Seems as if there might be a potential for a higher level return in terms of our time and our energy.”

The second way is to strategically manage employee exits. This is particularly important right now when many organisations are having a lot of involuntary turnover, Williamson says.

“What are we doing with those relationships? How are we managing that? We’re generating a whole population of former employees that are going to go off; some are going to work for our competitors, that might be a bad thing for us; some of them are going to work for co-operator firms – suppliers, potential clients, existing clients. How are we managing that process? What are we doing as they go through that exit process to ensure that we still maintain some type of positive relationship with them? Are we considering the potential social capital benefits as they exit?

“They’re going to have an immediate impact on shaping the brand and the image of that organisation, and no matter how much you might spend on a marketing plan or a branding strategy, it won’t overcome word of mouth.

“This has the potential to be a great thing. If we’ve done it right, they can be great ambassadors. They can recommend company products, they can refer new talent, they can be sources of new knowledge. But it can be very difficult to overcome if we do it wrong.

“It really is important to clearly communicate why we’re doing this. It’s important because it creates a sense of fairness. While things may have been unfortunate, you don’t want your employees saying it was an unfair situation, because that’s not going to generate goodwill.”

Outplacement services might seem expensive, he says, but employers will often recoup the cost if just one employee generates a new client.

Alumni recruitment often “hit or miss”
Alumni recruitment is often “hit or miss”, Williamson says, because few organisations have a formal strategy in place.

“It tends to be that a manager has an opening – they’re desperate to get somebody in, they want somebody good – and because they have a relationship with a former employee they call that person up [and] go outside of the HR process.

“What I would recommend is if you have the database of individuals who used to work for you, there’s nothing to stop you from sending out announcements of positions. You have their [CVs]; you know what they were doing in your organisation; you can screen before you even send out the messages, and so you can say ‘we think you would be an excellent candidate for this. I know you left – we have your information from your exit interviews as to why you left – we think we can address those concerns, would you mind having a conversation?’

“That’s an email you can’t send to a cold candidate.”

http://www.hrdaily.com.au/nl06_news_selected.php?act=2&nav=1&selkey=1148

New article…in press but cuurrently only in corrected proof…

Time banditry: Examining the purloining of time in organizations

Human Resource Management Review, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 1 May 2009
Laura E. Martin, Meagan E. Brock, M. Ronald Buckley, David J. Ketchen Jr.

Abstract:

Time banditry, a variant of counterproductive work behavior, is defined as the propensity of employees to engage in non-work related activities during work time. We extend past research on time banditry in two ways. First, we develop a model of time banditry. It is posited that a significant number of employees engage in time banditry despite their level of engagement with their job and even when productivity levels remain at an acceptable level. Implications of the model are described and testable propositions are developed. Second, we suggest that time bandits as a group are not monolithic, but instead there are at least four types of bandits.
Supervisors need to manage each type with different human resource management practices.

The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey
You are here: HigherEducation > Publications > The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey
“The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey: Graduates’ education and employment outcomes five years after completion of a bachelor degree at an Australian university“ reports the findings of the 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey. It contains information on the outcomes and pathways of bachelor graduates five years after graduation.

Abstract
The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey was designed to gain information on employment outcomes five years after completing a bachelor degree, how these changed from graduates’ initial outcomes, the pathways taken and the factors that influence outcomes. 9,238 graduates from all Table A higher education providers (with one exception) as well as Bond University and the University of Notre Dame participated in the survey. The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey was the first national study of its kind in Australia.

The Key findings were that:

Graduates can take a few years to establish their careers: the rate of participation in paid work among graduates rose from 84% to 91% between the first and fifth year following graduation;
At the national level, the median graduate salary rose from $38,000 to $60,000 in the first five years post-graduation – a 58% increase;
Graduate outcomes and pathways varied for different fields of education, with some graduates taking longer to settle into their careers; and
Graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds achieved outcomes on par with the general graduate population.

http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/Pages/The2008GraduatePathwaysSurvey.aspx

6/5/2009

Three-quarters of Australian workers believe their current skills will be out of date within five years, according to a recent survey.

The survey of almost 100,000 people in 34 countries, including more than 13,000 in Australia, shows that even in an economic recession, training and skills development are still important.

The Kelly Global Workforce Index finds that almost one-half of the respondents believe the training currently provided by their employers will not meet their future career needs.

Competitive advantage

Kelly Services managing director James Bowmer said that in an increasingly competitive global economy, investing in training for vital employees can become a key competitive advantage for firms.

‘Training may not seem a priority in the present economic climate, but organisations which devote the resources will be more likely to see higher productivity and profitability in the future,’ Bowmer said.

Changing labour market

The survey highlights the significance that employees across the generational age groups place on training and skills development to sustain them in a rapidly changing labour market.

Among the key findings of the survey:
Baby boomers (aged 48–65) are most worried about the level of training, with 59% saying it is not sufficient to upgrade skills and advance their career.
83% of Gen X (aged 30–47) say that within the next five years, their skills will need to be upgraded to keep pace with changes in the workplace.
73% of Gen Y (aged 18–29) see the provision of training as a joint responsibility between the employer and employee.

On-the-job training is the preferred form of training nominated by employees.

Human resource professionals come under scrutiny, with almost one-half of all respondents saying their HR department has not helped them to achieve their employment goals.

Across generations, women generally are more concerned than men about their skill set and have a higher expectation of their employers’ HR departments in managing their careers.

Among respondents, almost three-quarters (74%) say that training should be a joint responsibility between an employer and employee.

On-the-job training preferred

The preference among those surveyed is for on-the-job training (48%), followed by professional development courses (31%), self-initiated learning (11%) and formal university or college qualifications (10%).

Bowmer said the findings reveal the depth of concern across the population at the capacity of the current skills base to meet new workforce challenges.

‘The current economic environment has made people very aware of their skills and whether they will be sufficient to survive the recession and beyond, into a period of economic recovery,’ Bowmer said.

‘It is only very recently that we faced skills shortages across many industries, and unless skills and training are enhanced, that situation may occur in the future.’

‘Increased competition for jobs combined with technological change makes it vital that employees are assisted to become even more productive, through the best training possible.’

01 May 2009 6:03am

Despite starting out in the “poor cousin” sector of recruitment, Metier director Sally Paris now gives advice to top-level executives and says more recruiters should take an interest in broader business issues to better assist their clients.

Like many consultants, Paris “fell into” recruitment when, more than 10 years ago, she found herself seeking the services of an agency and ended up convincing the manager she could do a better job than its consultants.

Since then she has worked her way up to a general manager role at Julia Ross before deciding to start her own business with partner Neale Bettman in 2006. At office support specialist Metier, she manages a team of eight and continues to run her own desk looking after Metier’s top clients.

Paris says that as a small company without a huge marketing budget, Metier had to rely on the reputation she has built in the industry and carve out a niche via referrals from her clients – largely ASX100 executives, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals.

“A lot of my clients sit across different boards, charities, etc, and they often talk about their EAs and if they like them and don’t like them, and my name comes into the equation because I have changed their lives by finding them great people.”

The personality of a candidate can be much more important in an EA role than many others, she notes, because they have to work closely and in a more personal way with their boss. The difficulty of making this match is often compounded by the fact that HR usually shields top-level executives from recruiters, but she demands some face-to-face time before embarking on any assignment.

“I don’t work with anyone unless I’ve met them face-to-face. Even if they are someone who is travelling globally and only has 10 minutes to meet, that’s going to ensure the match of the assistant.”

One-on-one meetings also identify issues that HR departments often aren’t aware of, she says. “In one instance last year I met with a well known, highly regarded property identity. He couldn’t understand why he’d gone through so many EAs in the last 18 months, but [working it out] was just a matter of sitting down with him. He worked in the overseas markets and had a lot of success with EAs who he had long-term relationships with, but it came down to the fact that he wasn’t paying enough salary for what he expected, and the qualifications he needed from an EA. [He didn’t know this because] his HR people were guarding him from meeting with agencies.”

Take an interest in business
When dealing with clients at this level, Paris says, it’s vital to have some business nous yourself and a strong understanding of what your clients do.

Office support is generally seen as “the poor cousin” in recruitment because of its high proportion of junior consultants, she notes, but to succeed in this sector consultants must take a genuine interest in business issues and stay up-to-date by keeping an eye on the stock market, and reading business news. The level of knowledge and business savvy required for successful EA recruiters takes some time to acquire, she says, and “that level of interest or consultant approach just doesn’t happen as much these days”.

Often, she says, “[consultants] come straight out of business college and when entrusted to recruit for an MD’s EA they just can’t understand what these guys do on a day-to-day basis.”

The most successful office support recruiters, she says, meet with executives to understand “their business, their schedule and what they do, so we can explain the position up front to the EA – a HR person who doesn’t work one-to-one with the executive can’t describe that”.

Among the challenges of EA recruitment are that executives can be difficult for assistants to get along with, and because EAs don’t necessarily require a specific set of qualifications, the success of a placement hinges on the personality fit, she says.

Paris consults to clients by recommending ways that they can help assess whether an EA is the right match. “I suggest tips, such as getting the EA at the end of the interview to compose a business letter, because that’s the only way that they’re going to see how they react on the spot.”

She also recommends that executives schedule a five- or 10-minute meeting throughout the day when they update the EA “on where they’re at and what really is important – those little things really make a difference.”

Responding to the GFC
Paris is aware she started her company in a more buoyant economy, but says that while some business plans have changed, “irrespective, recruitment methodologies stay the same.

“A focus on core business is key. We don’t try and be all things to all people but we’re seeing a lot of non-traditional office support players trying to encroach on our market segment and that’s obviously difficult for us as a business. At the end of the day those other businesses’ brands are going to be diluted. Candidates they don’t place are going to be disillusioned. Although this is a large industry, it’s small at same time and people talk – service is key.”

Staying true to a brand, and resisting the temptation to branch into other areas can be hard in this market, she says.

She points out that a long-term client who, due to the downturn, hadn’t been able to give the company much work lately asked if it would recruit outside of its speciality – a clinical manager position – but Paris turned the role down. “We said no to that because we didn’t have expertise in the office to understand exactly what that client wanted, nor a pool of candidates ready to go. You may be able to list an ad, [but] … out of 10 people you’ve spoken to and interviewed, only one of them’s going to get the job and you’re not going to be able to place [the rest], and I think that can get frustrating for the candidates.”

Focusing efforts on the likelier wins is a strategy that flows through to other areas of the business. Despite being a small company, Metier has won several preferred supplier contracts with ASX 100 companies, but Paris says she only tenders when she knows the company has already proven itself to the client.

“I don’t think any agencies ever really win PSAs or normal business agreements unless they’ve demonstrated a track record with that client.”

Time-poor consultants can’t neglect candidates
Among the core tenets of the business are the need to “treat others as you would yourselves – little things that may seem a bit idealistic or old fashioned”, Paris says.

“We’re seeing a lot of candidates being treated poorly in the market because agencies are time-robbed of their core duties with the influx of candidates… so it’s about doing things that people remember. We have to take time out; more than ever we have to become the counsellors in our industry because there are people turning up on our door who’ve been made redundant, they might be in tears. We can’t turn those people away even if we’re in a staff meeting or were really busy; we have to pull out all stops.

“If you have a difficult person on the phone, they might not be someone that we can necessarily help but take a deep breath and think, ‘what would I be doing if I were in their shoes, how would I like to be treated?'”

The recruiters who survive and thrive through the downturn, she says, will be the ones who love recruitment and love people. “This market can get anyone down – can get really good recruiters down – but you can’t mope around, you’re only one person; you’re not going to change what’s happening in the global economy just on your own, so you have to adjust to the circumstances and fire up. And you can be successful in good times and bad times, I firmly believe that.”

If you’re not seeing success at the moment, “take stock – listen to your peers, watch what goes around your office and take your time with things”, she advises. “The little things that make a difference are getting back to people, being honest with clients, and being honest with candidates. Nothing that I say is rocket science, it’s all the same principles that are tried and tested in the industry.”

http://www.recruiterdaily.com.au/nl06_news_selected.php?act=2&nav=1&selkey=39395&utm_source=daily+email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily+Email+Article+Link