Skip to main content

Sue Cohen Talks Recruiting and Retaining the Best Staff

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 15 Jan 2016

Earlier this week RICS Recruit attended the Recruiting and Retaining the Best Staff event organised by the RICS Management Consultancy Professional Group. The featured speaker was Sue Cohen, a leading independent consultant on managing projects and people. The event was attended by a variety of professionals, ranging from independent recruiters to HR representatives from surveying firms, and even a few surveyors.

Sue began her talk by discussing strategies for retaining current staff, and how those same strategies could be used to attract new hires. The focus was on how a larger pay package isn’t the only incentive companies can offer. Things like professional development, mentoring, and prestige should be considered as well. With buybacks becoming all too common in the surveying industry, enticing people to stay or join a company with the promise of more interesting and significant projects can be a better draw.

With a large gap in the middle of the sector, Sue emphasised the importance of finding the best people at the junior level and taking the time to upskill them. She suggested that delegating up can be an effective temporary strategy in the interim, as higher-level employees will have all the necessary skills to do the delivery level duties and are less likely to make mistakes. In contrast, delegating down to junior employees before they fully understand the basic processes can lead to delays as the work needs to be double checked.

Sue then shifted focus to discuss the most efficient strategies for recruiting. She highlighted the importance of getting a quality hire that is likely to remain with the company to prevent repeating the long and costly recruitment process. For instance, while those in HR might have had interview training, many line managers who actually conduct the interviews haven’t. This is a key skill in selecting quality candidates that’s often neglected.

Opening the floor to the audience, Sue started a healthy discussion about alternatives to the CV and interview process. The general consensus of the group was that assessment centres often produce the best hires, but that a disproportionate amount of time can be spent on thinning the herd. The conclusion of this was that each company needs to assess the amount of time spent on the recruitment process, and how valuable it is compared to the quality of the hires they are getting.

The last part of the talk focused on flexible working from a business perspective, and more specifically on addressing the actual needs of a company. For instance, a company might hire on one person full-time 40 hours a week, when what they really need is one person 20 hours a week, another 10 hours a week, and one working 5 hours a month to get the same amount done. That’s a lot of wasted money and manpower, and by offering flexible solutions, a business will become more efficient. Conversely, it can open up the candidate pool as well; if people don’t need to be in the office every day, they don’t need to live nearby. Also, since many companies don’t currently advertise flexible roles, there is less competition for good candidates.

The next Management Consultancy Momentum free networking event is coming up on February 3rd. Space is limited, so follow the link to register today.

If you'd like further details about this or other Management Consultancy events, please contact Nigel Sellars at