Case Study - SurePay Limited
Part of a dynamic group of companies, SurePay is a leading provider of back office solutions for businesses across the UK, primarily in the Recruitment Sector. The company was looking to employ a new Company Accountant. This was a high profile role, the job-holder being required to not only develop and sustain effective financial and management procedures for both the SurePay group and its clients, but to also act as a key business enabler, with experience in the design and delivery of strategic projects to drive essential service improvement and change initiatives.
Having invested in significant print and online advertising campaigns, the company had been unable to attract the right calibre of candidate. As a result, they had been in talks with a number of recruitment agencies who had quoted fees of between 20% - 28.5% of starting salary, which equated to minimum fess of £13k through to over a whopping £18k!
Even with a better quality candidate, SurePay would still have had to devote further time, cost and effort to the actual selection of the right candidate.
I was already working with the group on the design and delivery on a number of key management development initiatives and, given my background in recruitment and selection, I was asked to review the company’s current processes and make recommendations as to the most efficient / cost-effective way forward.
Working closely with the MD and General Manager, I was able to make the following proposals:
- The redesign of the current Job Description and Role profile for the Company Accountant to better reflect the experience, skills and behaviours necessary to be effective in the role.
- This information could then be used to create a new Job advert; one that gave a clearer picture of the needs and demands of the actual Company Accountant role, and also acted as an initial candidate ‘screen’, to allow unsuitable applicants to ‘deselect’ themselves at an early stage.
- Focused advertising in key media (online and print), with a proven track-record in senior accountancy roles.
- The creation of an ‘ideal’ behavioural profile for the Company Accountant role. In my experience, most businesses recruit people for their technical capabilities, and fire them for their behavioural skills – or lack of! Given that this new job involved considerably more than just a traditional accountancy experience, it was important to get the right behavioural attributes, including; exceptional communications skills, the proven ability to influence others, and the capacity to operate in a fast-paced, challenging environment.
- A complete restructure of their selection process; this had previously entailed an interview with one or more of the senior management team; however, given the seniority, complexity and salary attached to the role, it was critical that any candidate was put through a rigorous, but time and cost-effective process that provided a complete 360° perspective of the individual. I recommended using a competency-based interview – focusing on specific examples from a candidates previous work history; a personality profile to check behavioural compatibility – both with the role and the wider company culture, and a series of psychometric tests to assess an individual’s ‘mental horsepower’ and learning capability.
SurePay accepted my recommendations, and the revised advert was placed with three advertisers – two online and one print; all with the required track-record in delivering quality candidates.
The outcome was the receipt of 4 candidate CV’s; a far lower response than for the previous adverts, but all of whom were of the desired calibre and, consequently, all were taken to the selection stage. Whilst the MD and General Manager had initial ‘informal’ interviews with each of the candidates, I and two colleagues ran the one-day selection centre. From this, one candidate (who, on the day, came out head and shoulders above the other applicants) was recommended for consideration by the SurePay board and was subsequently taken on by the company.
The whole process took just over 1 month to complete, and SurePay got the right candidate for the role – in terms of experience, expertise and behavioural fit.
The project was brought in for just over £8,500; a saving of £4,500 and that didn’t include the potential opportunity cost of SurePay’s senior manager’s having to run the selection centre – conservatively estimated at around £2,500 – and also the impact, given their lack of experience and / or expertise in recruitment and selection of hiring the wrong person.
Research has shown that, on average, it costs 3.5 times the actual job salary to recruit and train somebody into a role; now this may be verging towards the ‘teaching you to suck eggs’ territory, but for even the most junior employee, earning say, £12,000, that equates to £42,000 – in this particular case study, the wrong decision would have cost them nearly 5.5 times that figure!
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