Ten2Two’s MD, Deborah O’Sullivan, recently joined Penny Haslam to participate in a podcast series by the Herts Growth Hub. Here’s some of Deborah’s words of wisdom on Business Resilience and Recruitment.





Q: Tell us a little about you!

So I’m Managing Director of Ten2Two which is a recruitment consultancy that specialises in part-time, remote and flexible working. We’ve been in business for over 14 years and have seen lots of ups and downs in that time. We work with clients to help them find experienced, professional employees from senior administrators through to FD’s, Marketing Managers, HR Managers or Accountants. Because of our specialism in flexible employment the majority of our candidates are female but we’re seeing that mix change with many more men seeking a better work life balance now.

Q: What is meant by resilience?

I think that resilience is similar across many industries and recruitment is no different.
What we see and experience is that the most resilient businesses know their market and are able to adapt quickly, think differently, plan well and make strong decisions, leaning on existing processes.
When the pandemic hit, we knew that recruitment would suffer and that’s what we saw. We went from working with over 100 clients on their vacancies to just a handful in the space of a month. Everything froze. It was very similar to the financial crisis that we had lived through and many of our clients had too. Those clients who were agile enough to protect cash flow, pivot their proposition and make use of furlough seemed to weather the storm the best and that’s exactly what we did.
We reduced the team to its bare minimum, making use of Government support, moved lots of our activities online and kept in touch with our clients to support them in whatever way we could.

Q: How can business adapt and be more resilient in terms of recruitment?

Well we already know that there is a candidate shortage which is ongoing so recruitment is going to be tough. My advice is to think differently about recruitment. Three things to consider:

First is as the market gets tougher, design roles around business needs as well as what candidates are seeking. We know that flexibility is key and even more so in the current market, so make sure that you consider if a role really needs to be full-time or office based. You can save 20% of a salary if the role could be done in 30 hours and that extra flexibility opens up the market to a new talent pool.

Secondly, make sure you’re paying market rates. Candidates know their worth and you don’t want to lose a great candidate for the sake of a few thousand pounds. More and more candidates are prepared to walk away if they don’t feel they will be valued both financially and emotionally and penny-pinching at the recruitment stage can set the relationship off on the wrong footing.

Thirdly, utilise all channels available. Think outside the box for how you attract candidates. Agencies like Ten2Two have access to a broad range of channels that a business is unlikely to have themselves. So, although it may seem a more expensive route, using experts can save money in the end. We are often approached by clients who have tried to recruit themselves but after lots of wasted time, effort and cost still don’t find the right candidate. Because of our unique reach and talent pool, together with years of experience, we’re able to help.

Q: What are the key things for small business to think through in terms of recruitment in 2022?

We’ve already talked about the candidate shortage which all forecasts are saying will continue throughout 2022. So my advice is two-fold:

Firstly … look at your existing culture and understand how you can protect your existing team. Why do people stay, why do they go?

Put plans in place to make sure your work force is happy and your A-listers are engaged and not looking elsewhere.

Recognise that this may not always be about money. Over 80% of people are now saying they want some form of hybrid working and we’re helping our clients with their strategies to allow this. Employees and candidates also want more flexibility, or less than full-time hours to create a better work-life balance. We had already seen this over the last decade but the pandemic has brought this into sharp focus for many. And don’t forget additional benefits that mean a lot but don’t cost the earth, such as regular training or extra holiday allowance.

Secondly … plan, plan plan!

When considering business resilience and recruitment, think about what your needs will be in 3, 6 and 12 months from now. Do you know someone is going on maternity leave in 6 months? Or someone who will be promoted leaving a gap to fill? Don’t leave it to the 11th hour to start a recruitment process. It’s taking longer to find candidates with extended processes and we’re seeing more counter offers going on, where employers are looking to hold on to their employees. Senior recruits will likely be on a 3 or 6 month notice period so build that into your planning.

We work with clients to understand their future needs and this really helps when a great candidate comes onto the market. We know exactly what our clients are looking for and can approach the candidate before anyone else. Having a resourcing plan for the year, so you know what you’re aiming for can really help you, your team and your suppliers.

If you’re interested in discussing how you can create and grow your very own Dream Team, book an informal discussion with one of our Directors today or call 01442 503727.

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