At Entity Solutions, a People2.0 Company, we provide workforce solutions to businesses across the Asia Pacific. This gives us a front row seat to join our customers on the exciting, and sometimes turbulent, ride of what’s involved with leading a successful workforce.
That’s why we’ve introduced this new blog series: Workforce Leaders of Tomorrow. Our series will talk to leaders in the industry and explore what it takes to run a workforce in today’s climate. We’ll cover tech, culture, the market, diversity, and everything in between.
We are delighted to have one of our agency customers in New Zealand join us for our first Q&A. Archway Recruitment – a specialist agency operating out of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, is one to watch in New Zealand. They have organically quadrupled in team members since their formation is 2017 and were recognised recently at the RCSA awards as “Outstanding Small to Medium Size Agency”.
We sat down with Matthew Greenwood, Director, to hear about Archway’s origin story, the key elements of a thriving workplace culture and how COVID-19 has imprinted on the New Zealand hiring market.
So tell us, who is Archway Recruitment?
Archway was started by our directors – Michael McCauley, Jonathan Greening and James Ward. Spending years in the recruitment industry and noticing that things were becoming more and more transactional, they wanted to create a new style of recruitment.
They set up Archway to follow the values and approach that they believed recruitment should be comprised of – quality of relationships as opposed to quantity of calls. Given their respective sector expertise across architecture, property, construction and engineering, it made sense to create an agency that specialises in recruitment for the built environment.
When I came to a fork in the road in my own career, a mentoring type of conversation with the Archway team became an invite to form their accountancy and HRIS department. Three years later, I’m one of four directors and I’ve never looked back!
The Archway team has already grown to more than 12 people after four years. What do you attribute to your growth?
It has been mostly organic growth based on people working with our founders in the past and wanting to be a part of the journey. We’ve actually been approached by more people than we’ve hired, and I think our core values and our culture is essential to creating such a strong team. We want people that collaborate, encourage, and support others and follow our relationship-based ethos: that one 30-minute call or coffee with a client is far superior to 10x three-minute calls. Effective recruitment is far too complex, and relationship driven to be simplified to strict KPIs.
We have only lost two people since setting up, due to lifestyle changes (one has moved into HR and another has moved overseas). I think retention is key and our growth has been steady and calculated, rather than going “too hard too fast”.
Congratulations on your recent RCSA award win! Any advice for start-up recruitment agencies just setting out on the journey?
Thank you, it was a pleasant surprise to be honest! It’s hard to confidently give a template for success but I’ll try…
First up, start out with people you trust to treat your candidates, clients, and colleagues the right way. Your first hires will form the spine of your culture so it’s imperative you do it right. For us we went back to the basics: keep relationships first. Our first hires have all been consultants that buy in to the old school, tried and true belief that relationship driven recruitment will bring results long term.
Secondly, recognise opportunity, and be prepared to innovate and take calculated risks when they arise. Our directors are open-minded to new avenues and directions for the business, such as setting up new specialisations and diversifying our offering. That is incredibly valuable. The accountancy division wasn’t part of the original business plan and we’ve also got some other exciting developments coming. It’s important to be flexible enough to change.
Finally, we would recommend to any start-up to bolster your offering by setting up a contractor desk. It’s a reliable source of revenue that we can budget for, whereas the permanent placements are more fluctuating.
As a small business, there’s a huge amount for us to contend with and we recognise that we don’t have the expertise, systems, or infrastructure to manage the compliance, payroll and insurance for contractors. Partnering with Entity Solutions, a People2.0 Company, has provided us with peace of mind in those areas.
What do you think is most important to building positive workforce culture?
Transparency. We are very open with our team about our 3–5-year plans and try to bring everyone along on the journey. Last year during lockdown, we did something quite unusual in sharing with everyone what our overheads are and what it cost to hire them.
They then knew what their cost per head was and what they (and we!) needed to achieve for us to stay in the green. This appeared to help motivate all our consultants and ultimately everyone hit their targets and we were very fortunate to not have to let anyone go. Transparency builds trust in a team.
How did you manage COVID-19 from a client relationship point of view?
We were lucky in New Zealand that the quiet period only lasted four to six months. It’s been much longer in other countries.
During that time, we told our team just to gently check in with their clients, nothing else. To make sure they are okay and ask if they want to have a general chat about the market and what might be coming up. Not sales calls but genuine human conversations about what was going on in the world. We are aware that some other agencies went for a more aggressive approach during that period and that has done lasting damage to their brand.
What have you noticed as the impact of COVID-19 on the New Zealand recruitment market?
New Zealand is an economy that is built on a specialist migrant workforce. Therefore, it’s a candidate market and salaries are increasing as rapidly as house prices. We have noticed that salaries have increased 15-20% in the past 12 months, on average. Without the incoming talent, this gives our local talent new leverage to negotiate.
There isn’t an industry that isn’t candidate-short – all our sectors are suffering. Combine candidate shortages with the pressures of rising living costs and inflation in New Zealand, and people have a lot of genuine reasons to negotiate.
Clients’ hands are being forced to pay the new, increased market rate for the right person or compromise and be more flexible with their hiring and identify talent that they believe they can develop.
Thanks Matthew and we look forward to seeing what’s in store for Archway Recruitment in the future!