Author: Charlotte Doyle

The Jobsworth Blog – August

I am a Summer girl. Always have been.

If you have every worked in Retail, you will know that summertime is not a time to relax and breathe in the coconut-scented air. Summer is hectic. Breaks from work and the school holidays keep you busy. So much so that taking holidays during such busy times is discouraged. You become the facilitator between the public and their seasonal plans. In my case, providing food and clothing. I can guarantee that every time we had a heatwave, I would have a customer chat which started with, “It’s so lovely outside. Its unfair you having to work…”  Hmmpphhh. I missed summertime so much.

And because of my experienced in Retail I try to embrace every ray of sunshine I can get.

I consciously spend my year looking forward to the excitement of long days, impromptu trips to the beach and co-workers divulging all the details of their sunny holibobs, looking to book their next in the tanned afterglow. There is always a buzz in the Office as we share plans, and the sunshine can’t help but impress a sense of optimism on the business. We can achieve anything if the sun shines!

Summer is a season of plans, and in the workplace, this is indeed the case. New business plans, expansions, team social events, PR – Summer is the time to make it happen. Our Team here in Kidderminster office is desperate to celebrate our success with a casual beer and pub lunch. We have plans for a company barbeque ready to be planted on the diary when the time is right. Summer is a time for celebration – and the Jobsworth family love to celebrate.

“Hello?” trumpets the Elephant in the room. You can stop that Summer dreaming, there’s something more pressing to think about. We all know that this Summer will not be as planned for the majority. The impact of Covid brings the kind of summertime glumness which is comparable to when your Mum denies you a double whippy from the ice-cream van for a Kwik Save No-Frills choc-ice from the bottom of the freezer instead. The carefree attitude which pairs so well with hot days has been replaced with moderation and pre-mediated intentions.

As I write, ‘Freedom Day’ has come and gone. Although some have embraced the lift, many have rightfully remained hesitant to look forward to the rest of a mask-free Summer.  The ‘Pingdemic’ at the end of July has woefully reminded us that there is still a way to go before we find a more recognisable sense of normal. Businesses are peering over an edge where summer liberties seem to be together with potential isolation, colleague absence and pressure. In a word, the next few weeks will be ‘challenging’.

Businesses are struggling to straddle both responsibility and safety whilst growing and keeping their Teams optimistic, with the season exacerbating the pull.  As restrictions chop-and-change and some parties add their own limitations to pandemic-life, the world of business must morph and go with it.

However, for Recruitment we cannot lose the optimism of summer sun. Surely after all people and businesses have been through since March 2020, we need to extend that sunshine feeling?

Here at Jobsworth, we’ve been grasping what we can of summer by its sandy mitts! Ice cream, fizzy pop, planning for when we can all be together again. For us, that is what keeps us all going. It may seem a cheesy or OTT but in times like this, people need that something extra! Even if takes until Winter for it to ‘feel right’, we will still have our summer celebrations – coconut bras and grass skirts if necessary (and that’s just the guys!). In turn, the business will feel the benefits of summertime positivity.

In the office we know that we probably won’t be able to send the standard ‘hot-dog-leg’ holiday pictures on the work chat groups and reminisce about Mediterranean escapes with Barbara on the following Monday – but we will get to spend quality times with those we love, experience the beauty of GB and still be back home in time for tea. And for that we are grateful for.

This year, the season has transformed into something more abstract. It is a feeling, one that makes you feel warm from the bones. It is a positivity that businesses need to embrace else it can become too easy to live under the doomy shadows we have come to experience. I have learnt that summer-loving doesn’t have to take place in Summer itself – it is when you make it. And at Jobsworth, every season is Summer baby!

The Jobsworth Blog – July

The Parent Trap

I worked long, long hours, weekends, Bank Holidays – in previous roles it was like a competition where the more hours you could work in a day equated to your dedication to the business. For many years I would pull every moment I had into work and happily so. The work/ life balance I had was especially off-skew, as if I had Noah’s Ark plonked on the opposite end of the seesaw. Work came before drinks with friends, dinner with family and even sleep. No one can exist like that forever. That metaphorical candle does not last long when being burnt at both ends. There must be balance eventually.

My epiphany about the importance of work/life balance came like a ten-tonne truck when I found out I was going to become a Mam. No longer was work my priority. I was going to have a wee bab who would need the best of me, my energy, drive, and focus. We were so happy and finding the right balance between my work and home life had become more important than I ever thought it could be. Like all parents, we wanted the best for Spud.

The pregnancy was difficult, and my recovery was long. I was not prepared for my return to work whatsoever. I was terrified and the guilt was sometimes overwhelming. My Partner found it difficult to leave us after his paternity leave was spent. He exhausted himself with emotion. I spent every morning sobbing in my old office carpark as I missed the Spud so much. I would replace my mascara and cover up my worries. I would also go out of my way by working over or at home every evening as I felt I had to give more, so I could justify my new professional balance.

In my first return to the Sales meeting, I could not escape the label of ‘New Mum’. After all the niceties, it was soon the meeting of my nightmares. A new client asked to borrow my pen, which sat at the bottom of my rusk-encrusted bag generated some eye-rolling across the table. In my tiredness, I’m pretty sure I heard the term ‘baby-brain’ more than once. A few closed jokes for those in the know. When I left to fetch the group drinks my MD pulled me aside to point out that I had milk-stained, wet patches where my breasts had leaked into my top. I was mortified. He was furious. “It’s like a parent trap,” he said under his breath. “A mother’s meeting. They haven’t come here to talk about babies. They have come here to talk business!”

Safe to say, I was not invited to join a Sales meeting again.

Experiences like that condition your ways of working beyond compare. It can be confidence shattering. As a parent you are often faced with guilt – from both your home and your workplace and that is tough on anyone. You become trapped within the parent trap!

~

“You’ve got yellow stuff on your skirt,” said my new Director on my first day in Jobsworth.

“Oh, that’s Spud’s nappy cream. I must have got it on me when I was changing him this morning.”

“Argh, I know that stuff. You can’t get it out of anything. You got him to the Childminder okay?”

Boom! With those few seconds of conversation, I was not alone. I was not the only one spinning plates. It was okay to be a parent and be proud to be a parent.

Fortunately, there is no such thing as a ‘parent trap’ in our wee office. Each one of us has responsibilities outside of the business and what is important about that, is that we all recognise that in each other. And to be shocking (and so unlike my first post-partum workplace) that is a bloody positive thing! We appreciate each other’s experience and advice. If your toddler is having nightmare tantrums, someone else had that happen too. If you’re struggling to sleep due to your nocturnal newborn, we can empathise and make you a strong coffee. As a parent you are no less dedicated or motivated than others. In fact, what I see in these parents who juggle being amazing fathers/ mothers/ carers whilst bossing the world of Recruitment is dedication beyond compare.

I have met some amazing people in this world of Jobsworth, and I can say one of the many things I have learnt here is that having a happy work/ life balance is important. It is not glamourous to work yourself into the ground. It does not give you immediate kudos. It is not necessary. For us, a happy Recruiter makes a better Recruiter, and for many a huge part of people’s happiness is found in great work/life balance.

The Jobsworth Blog – June

I dated a Recruitment Consultant once. He was a nice guy, liked dogs and pub grub but he had a certain cynicism that I could not overlook. It didn’t work out (obvs), but we always kept in touch. He was one of the first people I told when I was offered a role at Jobsworth. I was entering the Recruitment circle and I wasn’t quite prepared for his shock.

“You won’t like it,” he said. “You’re too sensitive. You have to be tough!”

Tough? I can be tough. Bossing in Retail for over a decade gives you a hardened approach in the workplace. You become used to having a solution to every potential problem tucked up your sleeve, with profit consistently in mind. You spin so many plates, you get used to having an all-seeing twitchy eye on the business. However, my relentless manager-shell was easily softened by the people element of the role. I loved my teams and recruiting new people into them. It why was I applied for the role at Jobsworth. That was what motivated me, and it was this he was referencing as my REC flaw.

I have an urge to invest and develop in people but, as my ex-date continued, this would “…be a weakness in the world of Recruitment. People let you down. Clients let you down. You can’t care too much.”

Comments like that do not fill you with confidence on for your first day. Perhaps facing redundancy, I had jumped ship far too quickly? Perhaps (I’d choke if I admitted it) he was right?

Day One I was welcomed with warmth beyond expectation. Surely Recruitment Agencies are cold – ice cold? Chatty bods, buzzing phones and rustling paper. Pictures, posters and snacky snacks to keep the most enthusiastic office nibbler happy. This wasn’t the steely atmosphere I was promised by my equally steely Ex. I immediately noticed that my new colleagues exuded knowledge. Driving lingo, compliance beyond my experience, codes, POs and listing off names as if from the Yellow Pages. I knew that this was the beginning of so much to learn. That first day, quickly turned into a first week and that quickly transformed into a first month.

By the end of that month, I was in the depths of numerous recruitment campaigns. Busy and focused. Whilst recruiting for retail, the process was far less hands-on. By the time they had come to interview, they had applied, completed skills tests, and were vetted. My key objective was to interview the personality. Some would say the pleasantries of recruitment. Now, I was responsible for every component of the process. Every single one. If anyone is unsure to the amount of work which goes into supplying suitable candidates at short notice, please let me enlighten you. The procedure is intense, and the work is hard – full circle in its entirety. I could see how some agencies had become more focused on method rather than people. Within that month I had personally felt let-down by applicants who disappeared without a trace on their first day at work. I had listened to their stories, believed them when they said that the wanted a chance and rigorously sold them to the Client – only to be blocked on their phone and ghosted as clock-in arrived. It is an exhausting feeling. There are many reasons why people do it, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Nothing takes the bounce out of your bungee than that Chuck. I had felt the cool shade of my Date’s cynical Consultant shadow.

“Hello Jobsworth. Claire speaking, how can I help you?”

“Hi Claire. I’ve applied for your Warehouse role. I’m sorry but I haven’t really done this before. I was made redundant last month, and I had been at that factory since I left school. I’ve applied for so many jobs and getting nowhere. My wife is so worried.”

All I could do was listen. The way he spoke resonated with me. M was a proud man who, coming close to retirement age never thought that he would have to re-join the job hunt, particularly in circumstances such as a global pandemic.

“I’ve heard bad things about agencies, but I’ve had no luck on my own,” he continued. Lightbulb! That was the click. The turn of the key. My Ex was wrong. The reason why people like M thought that of agencies was because of that faceless, bureaucratic approach some consultancies favour.  M needed the Branch to care.

On further research, the area around our Branch had suffered with lockdown. A highly industrial area, some of the larger factories were struggling. M was one of many. We found a role for him, elevated his experience to the Client, and ensured that he knew we were backing him. On settling him into a permanent position, I felt that we had changed his opinion of Recruitment Agencies. Luckily enough, the other Ms we encountered saw the thought that went into our campaigns too.

Well Bab, almost nine months later and I am still here. M is still happy in that job. Maybe I have been lucky, or more likely modern Recruitment isn’t solely about these sceptical, cash-focused office hounds I was made to believe? Yes, there are businesses that don’t give a flying fudge about their candidates but that’s not the case here. Yes, it is a business and revenue is important but there’s more to it than that. Something I can only appreciate now, looking back on my leap into the sector. In our Branch we are still let down, we do get ghosted but for the majority, the rapport we have with our workers and applicants is stellar. That’s what drives our success. My heart can and will firmly stay in the people-part of recruitment because it is that balance which makes us stand out. I’m not the only Consultant who thinks like that and the fact that many are my co-workers is awesome. There will always be Ms in the world, and any agency which doesn’t see the gold in them is foolish.

I am still learning. I have a lot to learn, no question with that. However, this softy Recruiter is looking forward to that.

BCB Sponsorship

The Jobsworth boxing stable is getting larger. 🥳

We’re proud to announce our sponsorship of Katie Healy for her pro boxing debut this Friday night on @FightZone.uk. 🥊

Katie is a former Kickboxing World Champion.

She has now decided to move her fight career into the world of professional boxing and we’re proud to be involved from the start of her journey.

Tune into FightZone this Friday evening for her debut! 🥊

#BCB #Fightzone #Sponsorship #JRS #Recruitmentmadesimple

The Jobsworth Blog – May

Navigating the driver shortage

There is no doubt that the industry faces a shortage of drivers as the economy begins to reopen.

The RHA has called for urgent Government action, the DVSA says it’s because the industry has an image problem, add Brexit, Covid and IR35 reform into the mix and it appears as though the industry is facing a perfect storm.

Are the problems just short term or are the shortages symptomatic of a long-term trend?

 

It’s a Europe-wide problem

Since Brexit many foreign nationals have returned home, but the problem of driver shortages isn’t just confined to the UK, it’s the same on the Continent as well.

 

Trouble at both ends

The shortage is twin-edged, older drivers are unhappy about changes to their payments due to IR35 reform, and the backlog caused by Covid for driver testing has hampered the addition of fresh blood into the industry.

It would surely be in The Government’s best interests to place lorry drivers on the Occupation Shortage List, which would at least have the effect of enabling EU and other Nationals to fill rota gaps.

 

The impact of IR35

Many drivers are unhappy about this, which is understandable from their perspective.

The off-payroll reforms came in to close the loophole of drivers being able to operate through Limited Company, as a result, if their contract is deemed to be inside IR35, they are to be taxed in the same way as a regular employee, and paid either via agency PAYE or umbrella.

Whether the anger is justified or not, the big mistake drivers have made is to adopt a ‘shoot the messenger’ approach to dealing with their frustration.  It isn’t the end engager or the agency that is responsible for the legislation, but it is their obligation to ensure they are operating compliantly within it.

Ultimately, it is up to the drivers themselves to decide their best course of action, but faced with the reality of needing to earn a living, unhappy or not, many will have no option other than ‘sucking it up’.

 

Testing times

On the other side of the coin, the emphasis over the past year has been on other types of testing, so here is a backlog of would-be drivers awaiting their tests before being able to join the workforce.

Backlogs can be worked through, but it is unlikely, faced with so many competing resources, that there will be any assistance forthcoming from The Government, but with the economy reopening, this is more a short-term issue.

Prioritising vocational tests would be a practical way to clear the backlog as quickly as possible, it would surely make sense for The Government to give priority to help the industry bring fresh blood on board.

But attracting the drivers of the future is proving to be a challenge all in itself.

 

An image problem

The DVSA has made this point, and indeed it is a cause for concern.

Driving and logistics are keystones of the economy, and driving is a fine career to be involved in, but the message seems to be missing young people.

This is true of many trades’ and is symptomatic maybe of society’s increasing preoccupation with wanting everything ‘now’.

But to learn a trade, you have to be prepared to graft, start at the bottom, train and progress your career from there.

Sadly, many young people do appear to have the impression that the World owes them a living, but are they being given enough career guidance to make them choose a vocational career route if appropriate?

Certainly the message needs to be spread far more positively that driving is a good career to consider in its own right, not something to be done when there are no other options available.

And it’s in the interests of all members of the supply chain to promote driving as a rewarding career for young people to enter.

 

Keeping things honest

Faced with such a shortage, it is all the more important to make sure that you are completely honest and upfront with your drivers to make sure they don’t move to a competitor instead.

Shortages will inevitably apply upward pressure on rates, but the main role for the recruiter is to act as an impartial intermediary between driver and end client, by acting as an ‘honest broker’ you are keeping a lid on expectations while making sure that both parties have an agreement they can work with, a suitable compromise.

Being seen to be impartial is so important, we will always fight our drivers’ corner passionately, but recognise that it isn’t just a question of trying to screw the engager for as much as possible, it’s about being fair to all sides.

 

Looking to the future

The issues over IR35 and the testing backlog are a more short-to-medium term issues for the industry to grapple with.  The serious problem comes from changing attitudes towards driving as a long-term career choice.

Yes, it’s grafting, but what’s wrong with grafting for a living?

Certainly, if the Government can do anything, it is to ensure that apprenticeships, KickStart and vocational careers advice be given the focus they deserve.

As the RTA points out, it has contributed some £500m to the Apprenticeship levy, getting back just £50m in return, which is short change by anyone’s standards.

New Office!

Our new Kidderminster office is now open!!
Here’s our regional director Jay, and our IT guru Paul opening the branch, and we couldn’t be happier.
Jay will be in and around the Worcestershire area to offer solutions to all your recruitment needs.
He is backed by a great team of experienced recruiters.
…And Paul is on hand of course, just in case any of those pesky gremlins get into the system.
Good luck guys!!!