Recruitment. Is it a cost or an investment?
Perhaps we should ask G4S who are probably wondering whether they’ll pay the ultimate price for getting things so wrong on the Olympic security contract. Depending on which report you read, they’re gonna be in for between £30 and £50 million by the time they’ve covered their costs and compensated the government who will now have to draft in the military to keep the games safe. But it doesn’t end there, G4S stock has plummeted since Friday and their brand (possibly even brand GB) has also taken a severe battering. With such challenges to overcome, it might be time for them to dust off operation “Prisoners on the loose” which saw them change their name from Group4 after they rose to notoriety in the mid 90′s after a series of security blunders, some of which resulted in prisoners escaping whilst in their custody. How easily they appear to have shaken off a reputation for incompetence and win yet another high profile contract to balls up!
What we don’t know is on what basis they won the contract in the first place, perhaps they were doomed to fail from the beginning. I say that as someone who spent ten long years of my life navigating my way through extensive, unwieldy government procurement processes. More often then not suppliers are kept at arms length throughout the tendering process, so G4S were probably bidding blind, based on best guesses and estimates, rather then real consultancy and sound data. Submissions will have been scored against criteria which won’t have made much sense, and was most probably heavily weighted around the cheapest deal.
But surely recruitment ought to be different? It’s not like buying commodities or stock. It really is an investment, it’s an investment from both sides and needs to be taken seriously. I’ve lost count of all the “back to the floor” type programmes I’ve watched over the years which almost always conclude with a moment of epiphany from the top brass…”we have some amazing people breaking their balls for us in this company, but we treat them like crap and ask them to make do with resources that aren’t up to the job. If we treat them better, provide them with the right tools, listen to and respect them, our customers will be the ones to benefit – and we can sit back and watch the profits rise”
Good recruitment doesn’t start and end with filling a vacancy. Good recruitment is about creating a great place to work. A place where employees are valued and supported to be their best. A client of ours summed this up nicely the other day when they told me their business isn’t just about profit, it’s about doing the right thing. And sometimes doing the right thing is about making investments whose returns can’t be measured on the balance sheet. Your brand and reputation is what’s really at stake when you decide to recruit, who could possibly argue that this is something not worth an investment. The trick is to select the right partners to work with, to come to a shared view on what will make the campaign successful, how success will be measured and a robust project plan to ensure everything can be delivered on time. To succeed is to realise the investment. To fail is to be left to count the cost.