News

SEC awarded prestigious bronze accreditation from IAOCR

IAOCR logo - with wordingSEC is proud and delighted to confirm it has obtained bronze Workforce Quality Accreditation status from the IAOCR, the accrediting organization for the international clinical research industry. SEC is the first supply chain recruitment business to receive the award globally.

Following an extensive consultation spanning 2016 and the beginning of 2017, including a rigorous process of staff interviews, focus groups and review of processes and documentation internally at SEC by the IAOCR assessors, bronze status was confirmed in March this year.

The Workforce Quality Accreditation was developed by the independent IAOCR in collaboration with industry experts in response to demand from clinical research organizations (CROs) and pharmaceutical companies. The Accreditation is a seven-step process that recognizes and awards globally consistent and transparent systems that have good workforce quality practices in place.

Speaking of the award, Chief Executive Stuart Britton said “We are absolutely delighted to be the first recruitment partner to have achieved this well recognised mark of distinction in the life sciences sector. The award of bronze status demonstrates our commitment to delivering extraordinary results for our customers through the highest professional standards.

But for us this is only the start of our journey. We want to keep demonstrating our level of professional expertise and the work to obtain silver status is already underway”

Jacqueline Johnson North, Chief Executive Officer of IAOCR, said “SEC is a great place to work – the company has a clear and consistent workforce strategy, ensuring that employees feel valued and fully engaged. SEC has achieved the Bronze Workforce Quality Accreditation and it’s clear their values are role modelled from the top. They have developed robust and innovative processes that enable success at an individual and organizational level.”

The IAOCR Workforce Quality Accreditation recognizes four levels of accreditation, including foundational elements of quality. These characteristics must be verified to achieve accreditation in the following order:

  • Foundation – Company has accurate job descriptions and employees have access to core training for technical skills required to conduct quality clinical research
  • Bronze – Company has a proven “red flag” system for identifying and addressing lack of competence in high risk areas as well as a robust and systematic performance management system for employees
  • Silver – Company demonstrates employee engagement is an organizational priority; vision, values, goals and objectives are communicated across the organization; and the company invests in developing role-appropriate skills.
  • Gold – Competence of employees is verified against core global standards and 100 percent of clinical operations personnel undergo independent competence assessments within 12 months of entering a new role.

Interested in working with SEC? Give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7255 6600 or email info@secrecruitment.com.

SEC and me – six months after joining

Laure Desplats, one of SEC’s Academy graduates from 2016, discusses her last six months at SEC and what she has learLaure 2ned.

Freshly graduated from Kedge business school in France, I decided to take the opportunity to start my career in recruitment abroad, and with the UK labour market being such an interesting one it seemed like a natural choice.

Why recruitment? Simply because I had the feeling that it was made for me. It is the perfect combination between the commercial field and human interaction which fits with my personal characteristics: I am a good listener, I love building rapport and I like helping people. And as the old adage goes, people buy from people, which is something that is certainly true and I certainly would agree with!

Where? I decided to focus my research in London because it’s a multicultural city were people are open-minded. I already had an experience in this city and my aim was to spend more time living there.

The real challenge was to find a company which has the same values as I do.

When? I applied for SEC the week after graduating and I received a call from Shefika who is part of the Talent Team. We had a really constructive conversation about my expectations, what SEC was like to work in as a company, the culture of the organisation and the values that SEC hold important to them.

It seemed that this company was perfect for what I was looking for. The recruitment process was professional and efficient and my expectations were managed throughout. In two weeks I had one interview on the phone, one face-to-face and a skype interview. It was clear that SEC really was a company that does exactly what it says. I was told about the multicultural nature of the business; something that I have learned well enough now being not the only French person here, but also part of a team that collectively speaks over 20 languages. The interview process was great and welcoming and if I was to give anybody advice if they were applying for a role here at SEC, it would be to be yourself. Don’t be afraid about what you should say or not. SEC likes different people and everyone is unique. But they also have a transparent approach to their interview process and for that I was really grateful. It doesn’t take long before you learn that the values of trust, honesty, integrity and commitment really are adhered to throughout the organisation. If you hold those values dear, then you will fit right in at SEC, that’s for sure.

So I had the job offer confirmed, my travel booked, so adventure could really start…

I arrived in London one day before I joined SEC. I knew that I had training for four weeks with the new SEC academy process and I was excited. I arrived at the same time as four others colleagues and that was nice as I didn’t feel like I was the only new person. That certainly makes you feel more at ease. The academy was really useful for me for many reasons: I got really good tips from experienced people in the company, I learnt how to deal with candidates and clients, I learnt how to perform business development and how to get results and I realised what are the main difficulties of my market. Almost immediately I gained valuable skills and couldn’t wait to get started.

We also had some team time to develop our own market knowledge and get used to work with our team, which I thought was an invaluable experience and one that I wouldn’t have changed at all.

In a few words: The academy is – for me – the best way to join a company.

After four weeks of training I officially joined my desk and my team to apply the knowledge I gained during training. Every market has his own challenges, but joining in the contract team I had a team leader in Ollie – who had great experience and has supported me throughout my time. My main challenge was to develop the European market for contract regulatory affairs positions and armed with all of the skills to be a good recruiter thanks to the academy, it was now just down to getting to grips with the market.

How? By expanding my network, spending time to create relationships with candidates, as well as building rapport with clients. My challenge was to understand where the needs come from and ensure use of the internal database to track everything.

The best way to learn is by asking questions to your manager and candidates. You learn so much quicker that way. Your manager will help you to grow up in the company and you need to be able to rely on them and support them in every possible way and in return, you get the same support back, which is great.

I would also say that being proactive is one of the secrets to success. I find it’s better to ask questions rather than hesitating.

I learnt a lot since I joined my team from every conversation and every call. I try to make sure that every call makes me progress to the next step and has a positive effect. I keep learning every day. It’s important to be perseverant and keep your long term objectives in mind.

SEC is a European company with employees from different countries. I was and I am still impressed by the openness of people in the company. It reflects perfectly the mentality I loved when I first came in London. They are all happy to share tips and willing to give advice at any time. If you want to work in recruitment, I would highly recommend SEC.

 

Are you missing out on skills? Embracing the gig economy

IKerry Bambrick-Sattar SECn the last blog, I wrote I discussed the balance of bringing in new talent, how to approach their development in a way that increases their competence in the role, giving confidence and adding value to your customers, but also allowing them a blended programme offering continuous, professional development.

Today I want to focus on this concept of the ‘gig economy’, because it’s a fascinating topic that I think is certainly very pertinent to today’s life sciences market.

Pharmaceutical companies, CRO’s, CMO’s and Biotech’s continue to invest heavily in technology to enable them to accelerate the time it takes to bring drugs to the market. They continue to use technology innovatively to enable them to connect with patients, collate data to support clinical trials and research, deliver on drug efficacy, as well as understand patient compliance, however, they should also be future proofing themselves and ensuring that they are harnessing the skills needed for operating future technology. Furthermore, we need to be mindful of how technology will play a part in how the industry will engage and attract the skills of tomorrow.

That’s where the gig economy comes in. The types of jobs and the skills needed will always evolve. That’s the nature of the jobs market and the pharmaceutical industry needs to be able to adapt to this.  As organisations consider the career pathways of the next generation I think it’s fair to say we won’t be drawing any straight lines between the roles of now with the roles of 20 years’ time. Likewise, the career pathway we try to draw may look more like a set of alternative routes with the occasional bridge. Year on year evidence shows us people are becoming self-employed and engaging in the agile “gig” market.

Our organisations’ HR departments are still battling one of the top three CEO’s issues:

  • The challenge of a lack of skills – now we need to add how to navigate the landscape changes of less full time workers
  • Bringing in the necessary skills through contingent labour – as people opt for self-employment
  • Freelance work – working remotely with virtual teams around the globe to complete projects or deliver services.

Bidding for projects is not a new concept, there are also several digital work platforms that have been successfully operating for many years now, and their growth will be significant but it’s not a built-in process for many companies and even fewer companies have it as part of their talent management strategy.

You could define the gig economy as a virtual shopping mall for services. It has taken some bad press in recent months with MPs in the Work and Pensions Select Committee calling for an end to ‘bogus self-employment’ practices in its latest report on self-employment. But the gig economy it is but it is set to stay and currently there are five million people,15% of the labour force in the UK that are now self-employed. The government proposals to increase NI is already seeing the tax short fall brought about by a rise in self -employed individuals, but with an equal access to the new state pension, this gives some indication that this way of working is set to rise with the tax system adjusting accordingly.

This shift in the way people work is not just isolated to the UK though. In April 2017, The Committee on Labour and Social Affairs made changes to the Germany Employee Leasing Act, stipulating that temporary workers may only be used for 18 months at a client company in the future (unless a collective agreement governs a longer duration of use). They should also receive the same wages as the permanent staff after nine months. Temporary employment in France grew by 8.2% in March compared to last year, according to data from Prism’Emploi, the French association of employment agencies, and temporary employment grew in middle management and professionals (11.8%) while skilled workers grew by 10.9%. This is a global shift in the way a generation of people think and how they interact with the world of work.

So, what does the employment landscape look like for the future? Well, quite simply, individuals are looking for flexibility in how, where and who they work with. They what to take accountability and self-direct their pay, holidays and being involved in work that interests them. Every business needs to take this in to account and needs to ask itself questions about how it is going to attract the best people and evolve in the gig economy landscape.

You could do worse than add the gig economy to your board agenda, start considering how your internal talent acquisition team or HR team will operate in a way that gives you access to skills your organisation could be missing out on in the future if you are not set up to accommodate these innovative approaches to careers. Understanding the skills needed now and for the future will help in the process for what your company needs to action in the short, medium and long term. How you might be supporting that early talent you have invested in another decade and how you engage with them now on career planning can influence how you access their knowledge and skills in the future.

Equally important is to be able to demonstrate your ability as an organisation to tap into this talent but ensure you are responsible in your approach to reward, individuals wellbeing and not to be avoiding employer responsibilities when it comes to social welfare and taxation.

At SEC We’ve been working with contingent labour for over 30 years. Our contracting care programmes allow individuals to dictate their working hours, projects of interest and we as a company realise the importance of how we need to change what we do to support our freelance base in accessing our client’s opportunities. As we embrace the gig economy, we understand the need for talent brokerage through digital platforms, smart phones becoming smarter, apps and modern technology we don’t even know about yet.

In our next blog, we will look at how artificial intelligence will further change the working landscape and its impact on the people element of life sciences industry.

For more information on your talent management strategy give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7255 6600.

 

 

 

 

It’s not what’s on your desk on the first day, it’s the people every day

its the people blogI do let out a little chuckle when I see pictures on social media channels which appear to show a new starters first day. Is there a t-shirt with a corporate logo? Is there a brand new top-of-the-line mobile phone? An iPad? A box of chocolates? A branded mug? An inspirational quote to start you off on your new career of success?

I’m not against welcoming people and making them feel happy and excited about their new world of work. Indeed, everyone should have the excitement of what it feels like to be starting a new life adventure, but I guess what I’m really getting at here is the materialistic element of when I see somebody taking a picture of their new desk with a whole bag of goodies on. But also I think this misses one of the most fundamental parts of joining a new company:

The people.

It is your new work colleagues who will shape and frame what your working life will be like. It is the way you are treated as an employee by your line manager, senior management, colleagues, direct reports and other peers in different departments. If you find an organisation where you have a collective of people who care about the job they do but also care about being a team together and sharing successes together, then all of the paraphernalia on the planet isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference if it’s sat on your desk on the first day. These items are just hygiene factors. They don’t determine how you will feel in six months’ time. They don’t even determine how you will feel in a week. They are the ‘here and now’. But in a week’s time, or a month’s time, if you are in an office environment that has people in it who seem to genuinely care about helping you succeed, then I bet you’d trade in your branded merchandise in a heartbeat.

We run an annual employee engagement survey at SEC and one of the most pleasing elements for me when I read the 2016 results at the beginning of 2017, was from some of the staff who gave comments about how there is a very good peer-to-peer support network in our office. To me that is so important. You should always expect guidance and direction from your line manager or those in strategic positions setting the vision and direction of the company, but without peer-to-peer support that you can call on when you have something that you don’t think you can discuss with your manager or anybody in a more senior position, you need to know that you have people who will help you.

That kind of environment is invaluable. It creates a real ‘family’ feel to a workplace and given the choice I would always choose that over a branded item that is sat on my desk with a note saying ‘welcome to the team. Now get to work!’.

If you work at SEC you’ll be given the support network you need to succeed and what will underpin that will be our values – trust, honesty, integrity and commitment. You can ask any of the team about these values and what they mean to them as an individual, but I always keep my door open, because I want everyone in the organisation I run to feel that they can speak about whatever they wish.

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Fancy talking to us about what it’s like to work at SEC? Maybe you’d like to join?

Give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7255 6677 or email info@secrecruitment.com.

Show people your commitment to professionalism at every opportunity

David BDavid Buist, Operations Director at SEC, gives an insight in to why we took the decision to go through the bronze Work Quality Accreditation (WQA). 

As a business, we are always trying to demonstrate to our clients and candidates – that what we do at SEC is different. With over 55 experienced consultants who come from a plethora of different countries and collectively speak over 20 languages. It’s a real mixture of people giving us a wide and diverse communication network, something we are proud of. We’re proud enough to focus on that with whoever we work with, but we’re also very proud of our service offering, because we like to think that we’re always striving to demonstrate the highest level of professionalism within the life sciences industry.

As members of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) and we can say that we take our membership and the Code of Conduct very seriously. This is one way of giving peace of mind to the clients that are current or future clients working with SEC. But in the spirit of our desire to consistently improve our offering, we have spent quite some time also reviewing ways in which we can demonstrate the next level of compliance in the clinical research industry. In 2015 we began talking to the International Accrediting Organisation for Clinical Research (IAOCR) and after several discussions it became clear that we had an opportunity to show our stakeholders that we could demonstrate our quality in the life sciences space, as well as from a recruitment industry perspective.

As a result, we began the process of the application for the Workforce Quality Accreditation (WQA). The WQA is a business improvement methodology that has been principally developed to assist clinical research organisations across the globe by helping to drive up quality standards. It was designed in collaboration with sponsor organisations and CROs to address workplace quality issues specific to the industry sector. It also provides an opportunity to gain an accreditation by demonstrating the commitment to ensuring that human factors are aligned with technology, processes and procedures which a methodology close to the heart of SEC.Print

To achieve the bronze WQA we had to go far deeper than a tick-box exercise. The review process prompted a forensic review of each element of our structure, processes and day-to-day activities in a way that ensures that we continually add value to our people and our clients. The overall aim of the process is to help drive business improvements that are embedded and stand the test of time, something that we have been focused on for many years and will continue to do so as our business evolves alongside our clients.

We were delighted to achieve Bronze Accreditation in March this year demonstrating that we have started on a journey that will only benefit all the individuals and businesses that we work with.

We are committed to providing the highest quality recruitment services to our clients through an exceptionally well-trained, competent and passionate team. As the first supply chain company to attain this accreditation, it helps to validate our approach to ensuring a high-quality service is provided and further demonstrates to our clients that they are engaged with a company that sets the standard for building and maintaining long term relationships.

But we aren’t resting on our laurels. We are already working on the silver Workforce Quality Accreditation (WQA) and aim to achieve it later on this year as continuous improvement is about constantly looking at our processes and finding ways in which we can get better and deliver more value to our clients.

 

Inspiring stories from our Charity of the Year

We’ve already heard some great stories about Thames Hospice at SEC, but we wanted to share some with you, which is why we’ve got a special guest blog today from one of the team at the Hospice. Jacquie Batchford, Director of Patient and Family Services, has kindly written a piece about her experience of working at Thames Hospice.

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I started working at Thames Hospice in 2000 as a Staff Nurse, then moved from Inpatient Unit Sister to Practice Educator and Head of Clinical Services, before taking on my current role as Director of Patient and Family Services.JacquieB - Thames Hospice blogger low res

My very first clinical job was in the NHS, caring for patients undergoing bone marrow transplants, and then I spent a year at the Royal Marsden qualifying in cancer care. I went on to spend eight years working at Mount Vernon Hospital on an acute oncology ward, and progressed to Senior Sister – managing a 27-bed ward. We gave curative and palliative treatments, but also cared for some patients at the end of their lives. I then became a Lecturer Practitioner across the acute trust and local university – responsible for the education strategy. I had found a love for palliative care but missed the patient contact, so took the decision to move organisations and that was how I found my way to hospice care.

I love working in a small organisation where I can still have patient contact and know the staff delivering the care. Within a week of starting at the Hospice, I understood the differences between a hospice and a hospital. There are different pressures in the NHS, but at the hospice I love the fact that staff are encouraged to spend time with patients and that families and loved ones are cared for too.

I have worked at the Hospice for 17 years and, although there have been many changes, there has been one consistent theme – that the person receiving our care is always the most important person.

I am amazed by the bravery of our patients and families in the most difficult of times. The patients all know they have an incurable condition, as do their families, and they face this in their own ways with individual care from us. The common theme is the bravery of facing saying goodbye to each other; I do not know if I would have the courage to face this as they do.

The staff make me proud every day. They connect with everyone who uses our services on a fundamental human level. They share laughter and fun with the patients and families – they help people to live the best they can and enjoy moments of joy and happiness amongst their sadness. The nurses, doctors and all patient-facing staff inspire me to do better in my job, to be the best I can be for them.

Importantly, our supporters and donors inspire me with the lengths they are willing to go to support us. Teams like SEC Recruitment, who dedicate their time to fundraising and awareness building in and outside of working hours, as well as so generously supporting us with donations.

This support is vital in helping us continue to deliver our inpatient, outpatient and community services – from respite for patients and carers, to pain and symptom control, therapy sessions and end of life-care. Looking after families after a bereavement is so important and I really like our Time to Remember and Light up a Life services, which allow families to come back to the Hospice, remember their loved ones and meet with staff again. These events create a special place for loved ones to take time out to really value their memories of the person who has died.

We aim to give families the best memories possible of a very difficult time and we are introducing new ways of doing this. This year, we will allow patients and/or their loved ones to record videos, make memory boxes or write letters to one another with the support of our staff.

Celebrating life and ensuring the people in our care have quality of life no matter their condition, is our vision. To help achieve this, we hold Hospice events throughout the year, including Mother’s Day Teas, screening Wimbledon and Christmas carols. We also help those in our care to achieve special wishes or celebrate milestones. We’ve organised weddings, a New Year party, celebrated Christmas in November and recently arranged a 60th Wedding Anniversary – we even welcomed a patient’s horse into the Hospice gardens, so they could say one last goodbye. We will do whatever possible to bring comfort to those facing a life-limiting illness. This also includes offering bespoke, individual care to children losing a parent, and counselling, social work and emotional and spiritual support for all of the people we see.

Every month, that is more than 700 people across the Hospice and in our community. At the moment, we only have 17 beds at the Hospice and every day, there are more than 10 people waiting for one of those beds. Therefore, we are privileged to have secured the option to purchase land to enable us to build a new 28-bed, purpose-built, hospice in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

We submitted planning permission in March and plan to build a facility which we know will be better for patients, but also help relieve the pressure on local hospitals. This will offer far greater facilities for our patients attending for the day or visiting us for a specific treatment. Included in the plans is a community hub, with therapy rooms, a beautiful space for patients and families to relax, a gym and a large bathroom with a top-of-the-range Jacuzzi bath for patients that cannot get into a bath at home.

As experts in the palliative and end-of-life care field, an important part of our work is also education and training. So we hope to build an education centre, with the space and equipment to increase training, not only for our own staff but for external staff from care homes, hospitals and other care facilities.

Achieving our dream means that we can see more patients in a better environment, but with the same extremely high quality care. We are so grateful for your support in helping us achieve this.

Aligning the talent model to fit your strategy

happy peopleAs somebody who has worked for a variety of different organisations in the life sciences industry, my experience to date has allowed me to be in positions of either acquiring talent or building talent pools for organisations. It has always been great to get exposure to different cultures, sizes of organisations and the adoption of differing approaches to managing a company’s own talent / people strategy. For most employers the central premise when it comes to people retention is succession planning, ensuring that key talent is identified and nurtured from an early stage. But as with all commercial entities, there is always a balance to be struck, because there is always a need to demonstrate value to clients right from the word go.

It’s a real challenge because from a hiring perspective every organisation wants to ensure the success of its future by nurturing talent. But what do you do if your client is looking for immediate results and struggles to see the value of a proportion of the team you have working with them being inexperienced?  In particular how do CROs and CSO’s convince their customers that this can help their business?

It’s a tough sell. But it is a sell that needs to happen nonetheless. How can you bring through the next generation of talent without exposing them towards projects at some stage?

Investing in training and developing somebody with a view to them delivering ROI within three to six months represents a number of risks, including impact on  quality, time, efficiency and costs of rework. In addition the sponsoring company wants assurance that its project is not going to be the training ground for the CRO/CSO. If a company cannot charge for an individual’s time until six months into a project, that affects the productivity levels of your business, which in turn can lead to internal pressures on costs and resources.

However, risk is always going to be a factor when companies invest in new talent. How much risk is associated with an individual going into your clients’ offices and working on projects, if they are relatively new to the industry themselves? That’s where effectively designed training programs and accrediting organisations can be so valuable because they train to and measure competencies of individuals on set criteria. This ensures that when somebody works on a specific project, they have a set standard with which to work towards, giving the client the reassurance that they need. Having a robust auditing process also mitigates the risk towards sponsor companies because they know that a certain standard of accreditation has been adhered to. We all are aware that the number of years’ experience does not always equate to levels of competence.

Therefore your talent model – in my experience – is always about balance. You can never have a perfect scenario and you always have to make trade-offs. So finding the balance between bringing on board new talent and delivering ROI from day one to the client need to be managed properly.

The life sciences industry continues to evolve rapidly and most skill sets are in  high demand. Companies have to grow their own talent on a continuous basis and this is costly and resource intensive. One of the frustrations for companies is with the delay on project delivery as they try to acquire the perfect skill set externally. Do you invest more in talent acquisition or in your L&D department? These are the real pressures that hiring managers within CRO / CSO organisations face continually.

But it’s about more than just managing risk and being able to charge customers for your early talent, it’s also about the competition and ensuring your early talent feels invested in, getting the initial entry into the company right is essential in developing greater loyalty to your business. Early entrants who are put through a mixture of on-the-job, blended training with opportunities for peer relationships to thrive as well as mentoring can allow individuals to grow and develop at the right pace. ‘Boot camp’ scenarios are always a great way to embed those peer relationships and the benefits last for years. From experience, some of my best life friends come from my Airforce training days, large numbers of people having to learn to live and work collaboratively for the greater good.

The alternative is being thrown into a role in which they are expected to deliver immediately after an initial process, but the training process is longer as a result, it helps neither the hiring organisation or the employee.

So why is an effective partnership with a recruitment provider valuable? Recruitment companies get deep into market insights to support business decisions on a number of talent based decisions, including where companies should be investing in early talent programs. The experienced contracted workforce that you engage could be providing additional value to your early talent programs (through mentorship to complement the training and development process through and can even support onboarding activities).

But you have to find the right partner. It’s something I spent a lot of time analysing when I operated on the other side of the fence. I needed to work with a partner who would listen to me, understand the needs of my business, then offer both long and short term solutions. Your talent management strategy should involve a partner who can provide you with the support you need to upskill and develop your rising stars. If you’re working with a recruitment partner who can  support more than transactional filling of roles and that helps you to build in a plan of people development (which could involve contractors who could come in and mentor the talent that a business wants to invest in for the future), then you know that you have found a business-to-business relationship that is most interested in making your organisation successful, not just lining its own pockets.

Alternatively, running a graduate scheme through your recruitment provider, whilst they are learning and developing whilst employed by the recruitment business, mitigates any risks or perceived costs before your new talent can be integrated in to the business as a billable employee.

We’re always happy to discuss options available to CROs, CSOs, pharmaceutical and biotechs, so if you want to discuss about how SEC could support, call me on +44 (0) 207 255 6600 or email me at kerry.bambrick-sattar@secrecruitment.com.

Suspected Fraudulent activity by individuals requesting money from candidates

SEC Recruitment has been alerted to the potential fraudulent activity by individuals pertaining to work for SEC Recruitment, who are in turn requesting money from candidates.

The activity that has been recognised and is not related to SEC Recruitment Limited in any way.  If you, as a candidate or client are approached in any way by an individual stating that they represent SEC Recruitment Limited and requesting a payment contribution prior to working with you please disregard the request.

We would ask you to contact us to report this approach on +44 (0) 20 7255 6600 or email info@secrecruitment.com.

We have contacted the relevant authorities and are in the process of co-operating with a detailed investigation.

How do you feel at work?

Stephanie-Lebrun-croppedPerhaps this title might sound like a bit of cliché to you, especially if we consider the amount of articles about happiness at work.  Yawn. I can already imagine some of you rolling  your eyes “Oh no… another article about wellbeing at work and keeping employees happy”. Let’s be honest, I think we can have long debates about what happiness at work actually means. But what every company should actually ask themselves is “why and how could  we keep our employees engaged?”.

When you are a recruiter you have to face so many up and downs. You have targets to hit and an entire pipeline can come crashing down in a day. You then have to start from scratch building a new one! You also face a lot of rejections & unpredictability, so it goes without saying how important resilience and persistence is in this profession. Having a healthy and supportive work environment is then not just nice, but crucial. Having the feeling of being supported but also, developed & challenged will definitely help you to keep yourself motivated and fulfilled in your work.

At SEC, I am a part of the Talent Team and our role is to attract, develop and retain our people. But what does it really mean? Our mission is obviously making sure we attract the right people. Once they join us, we will provide a full induction and blended training plan to make sure they have the basic skills and they understand our key values & approach. This will be the case for any new starters; they could be complete rookies or experienced recruiters/professionals.

Do you know how crucial the first months of employment are? When you join a new company you have so many things to process and learn. You will be joining a new team, a new company, a new working culture. Even if you come with some solid skills or experience you still need to learn and familiarise yourself with new approaches too. My role as a Talent Consultant is as critical as any consultant role – I am passionate about ensuring everyone is well transitioned into their new team – they receive enough support, and they understand what is expected from them. So to keep it simple: make sure they feel engaged & happy at work!

But how do we make sure we get all this precious information to do this? By conducting health checks in the first few months. This is one of my favourite & most challenging parts of my job; it’s not just an occasion for me to catch up with the employees but I can also coach, train & play a role in solving any teething issues. When I ask them about the benefits of having health checks, they all tell me that’s the occasion for them to reflect on their work, take a step out and think about what they have achieved for the past month. When you work in recruitment, you have targets, so it’s really crucial to have a plan and think about how to reach objectives.

We also have health checks with team leaders every quarter to make sure the team is doing fine and to assess any training needs. This is both specific & holistic as we often see trends that we can easily address with our impressive array of resources including training, coaching & mentoring programmes.

But why? Health checks are not only a benefit for our employees but also for the whole company. Indeed from an organisation’s perspective, it’s the opportunity to assess if there is a need to take some actions in order to help the employees to develop and perform. So as a company, it also gives us the occasion to step out and see how we could improve as a whole.

So in a nutshell, health checks offer benefits for ME as an individual, for WE as a team and for US as an organisation. Those three dimensions should always be considered when it’s a question of employee engagement and employee performance. In my opinion, it summarises well the supportive environment SEC offers.

Death By Email – What Is Next?

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SEC Chief Executive Stuart Britton explores a topic that will be familiar to all – the notion of too much email!

How much of your email do you really need to read? 10% maybe?

How much of your email do you read? Well, most of it….

The majority of us like to feel informed about what is going on. We also like to update others on things that may concern them. We all take it too far sometimes. I’m all for technological progress, but when two phone calls get replaced by an email to 15 vaguely interested parties (many of whom feel that they should respond), corporate communication becomes ever more bloated. A McKinsey report found that we are spending 28% of our working day dealing with emails – many of them irrelevant. What else would you have done with that time?

People abuse email in so many different ways. I don’t intend to turn this blog into a moaning session, but I am sure that we can all list at least 5 types of annoying (and utterly unnecessary) emails that we receive on a daily basis….

Death by email is unfortunately nothing new, but at least we can choose when to open that dreaded inbox. I would like to suggest that the next business trend to disrupt our working day will be far more invasive.

The danger looming on the horizon is…. distraction.

There are many productivity theories, which suggest that short and focused periods of concentration bring the best results. For example, the Pomodoro technique suggests 25 minutes of activity and then a break. In any case, we break our working days into segments, and the biggest drag on our time is when we get distracted from our task. We are compelled to check out latest emails, we feel like going for a coffee, or we chat to a colleague about the weekend’s sport. We choose whether to succumb to many of these distractions – our willpower dictates the outcome.

However, the level of external distraction is set to skyrocket, and our willpower will have nothing to do with it.

Communication is becoming ever more fragmented and fleeting. You take 15 seconds to read a tweet, 10 seconds to view a Snapchat, maybe 20 seconds to send a text. Then you need another minute or two to regain your concentration. We aren’t machines – our brain needs time to tune into what we were thinking about previously. As business increasingly adopts more of these instant messaging solutions – their “push” notifications will make it ever more impossible to avoid distractions. At least you could ignore your email for an hour or two….

As we manage our working lives, we should all think long and hard about the place of technology – and how “simple” it is really making our lives? Whatever your work may be, how much of it really relies on all these distractions? Reject them, uninstall them, refuse to take part – you will be all the more efficient for it.

I suppose that you could also put reading blogs into the category of workplace distractions. Ironic isn’t it….