Bounce Back Series: How Rhino Recruitment put down solid foundations to emerge from COVID-19 stronger

The construction sector was one of the last to go into lockdown, with some parts of the industry remaining open well after the rest of us were huddled in our homes mastering the art of Zoom.

Helen Cockle

Bounce Back Series: How Rhino Recruitment put down solid foundations to emerge from COVID-19 stronger

The construction sector was one of the last to go into lockdown, with some parts of the industry remaining open well after the rest of us were huddled in our homes mastering the art of Zoom.

According to Craig McKie, the company had diversified into areas other than construction over the last 12 months. The company now recruits in areas from IT, manufacturing, engineering, and law as a method of risk reduction. And, when COVID-19 hit, it proved a smart decision.

"The challenges we found then have been magnified now," Craig says. "Around everything, there was a risk to the business and portfolio by having all eggs in one basket. At that time, a lot of construction companies were going bust, and recruitment is at the end of the supply chain."

According to Craig, the biggest problem the whole construction sector faced was the uncertainty of the rules.

"Just before lockdown, everything was okay," says Craig. "So, within about two or three days, there was that uncertainty. Are guys allowed out on sites? What's actually happening? Is it key work or is it not?"

This uncertainty made human resource management incredibly challenging within the recruitment process and the user experience of the hiring manager.

"The uncertainty is the biggest challenge," Craig says. "Andrew [Roberts, CEO] and I speak 20-30 times a day, regardless. It's managing peoples' expectations within the business as much as anything else and trying to get as much insight into what's happening in the marketplace."

The challenge for the recruitment sector in construction is timing not to open up too early but ensure you're available when the demand hits.

"The worst thing would be to wait too long and miss the start. My point to the guys all along was when that release kicks off again, we want to be making sure we're at the start. When want to be ready for the gun and not that the gun's fired because other people are already out. So it's balancing everything out with what you know and what's going on."

Opening up is a week-by-week assessment and the situations constantly change. Fortunately, Craig explains that the company has invested in new systems that allow greater visibility on the ground.

"Going into the shutdown, we were putting in a new CRM for payments and billing.

"Lockdown gave us the luxury to get upgraded when nothing else was going on. We have our new CRM in place and our systems and processes have changed internally.

"Our business we will be stronger for what we've put in place while we've been in lockdown."

Another benefit to emerge from lockdown has how others in the recruitment sector have come together to share information and collaborate.

"What I've enjoyed that this period of it sounds perverse is that I've got myself more involved across the sector and with peers across the sector," Craig explains. "We don't have all the answers. Nobody does. So when you're sharing those answers it makes you realize that everyone else is in the same boat."

With a background as an accountant, Craig is clear on what businesses need to do to get through this period of turbulence.

"Understand what actually drives the business," he says. "Recruitment can be very KPI-driven. It can be very dangerous, covering too many KPIs for the sake of other KPIs.

"If you're sitting by a pool, on your holidays, and you're looking at whether your business was good, what are the two or three numbers that you want to see? It's not a dozen numbers that you want to see."

Craig McKie from Rhino Recruitment spoke to Futrli CEO Hannah Dawson and COO Helen Cockle as part of the Futrli Bounce Back series.  

Watch the full webinar to discover:

  • Why the choice to swing back into action is a fine balancing act in the construction industry
  • What every business owner should look at to steer their business through this period
  • Why some businesses aren't going to survive (and how many will)
  • How Craig sees the construction sector getting back to normal after this period

Watch the full interview here.

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