Since Brexit and COVID, many businesses have had to adapt in order to continue trading. One challenge of this adaptation is recruitment. We asked Sally Wells, Human Resources Manager at ASM Auto Recycling, vehicle salvage agent and green parts recycler, to provide her experience and expertise on recruiting the right people for the job and how to retain them.
Established for over 35 years, ASM Auto Recycling is widely regarded as one of the UK’s most modern and professional vehicle salvage agents and green parts recyclers. Moving with the times, or even trying to stay ahead of the curve, has always been a key element of ASM’s modus operandi, and this has never been more relevant than in recent years – particularly with regards to the recruitment and retention of our team of 120+ staff.
As we all know, pretty much gone are the days when customers would visit ‘breakers yards’ and remove parts for themselves, almost as much for personal pleasure as a necessity. Nowadays, all breaker vehicles on site are fully inducted by in-house teams using tablet PCs, database sales info that tells us what parts should be removed, our workshop equipment is state-of-the-art, our warehouse and despatch technologies are cutting edge, and our main sales platforms for parts and salvage are all online.
Undoubtedly, the past 20 years have seen our sector shift from being relatively primitive in its ways of doing things to now showcasing some very highly sophisticated operations. And to help facilitate the smooth running of these operations, we have also seen a significant change in the breadth and type of the job roles required – for example; we now have dedicated teams of staff for many disciplines ranging from vehicle technicians to call centre administrators, to quality control operatives, to data inputters, to social media content creators… and, of course, HR!
Recruitment has always been a perpetual challenge for most companies, but never more so than since the onset of the twin perils – Brexit and COVID. The nature of the pandemic has meant that we’ve had to adopt a far more pragmatic approach to screening potential job candidates, such as conducting initial interviews via Zoom calls rather than face-to-face and then maybe following up with ‘socially distanced’ site tours so that applicants can see at first-hand exactly what the business does and how it functions – It’s fair to say that the vast majority of interviewees are blown away by the size & scale of the modern-day vehicle recycling operation that they see. This interview process has become the new normal, and we have found that it makes for a far more dynamic and interactive encounter than the traditional office-based question & answer sessions.
Brexit has further exacerbated the skills shortage that was already becoming evident in our industry. However, we have never employed people solely on their technical capabilities alone; instead, we take a more holistic approach regarding a person’s likely ‘fit’ within ASM and their subsequent ability to work effectively as part of the existing team. If a candidate appears to possess the required level of competency for the role in question, then a positive disposition and signs of a good work ethic are the key attributes that seal the recruitment deal for ASM.
Traditionally, we have found one of the best ways to recruit new staff to be via word of mouth or employee recommendation, and we reward staff who introduce candidates that we subsequently take on. We have also actively embraced new recruitment methods such as social media, posting videos of specific roles on the relevant platforms to extend reach and to give interested candidates a visual insight into the role and the working environment.
We have started working even more closely with local schools and colleges, offering Year 11 and 13 students long-term work experience programmes. We have found that engaging with students who have a particular passion for motor vehicles to be mutually beneficial, as not only have several of them undertaken full-time employment with ASM at the end of their studies, but it has also served to further enhance the company’s relationship within the local community.
Most potential employees are looking for a company that can offer training and career progression. We fully believe it’s key for staff to feel that they are learning new skills, gaining qualifications, and developing themselves to maximise their potential.
Having a strong training ethos embedded within ASM is a win-win situation as it results in the company having a far more empowered and engaged team, but it’s a team that also possesses far greater operational flexibility and know-how. Externally, this is of significant benefit to our clients in terms of service quality. Internally, it pays dividends when it comes to training new staff members and setting the tone in terms of organisational values and expectations.
The onboarding process for new recruits is recognised as a vital part of their induction as it really helps them to acclimatise to their new role, their new surroundings, the company’s policies and philosophies, etc. This is the first building block to positively engaging new staff members and making them feel part of the team from day one, which hopefully translates into greater commitment levels and staff retention rates in the long term. ASM works incredibly hard at creating and maintaining the right working culture, ensuring that all members of the team can voice their opinions and suggestions via the appropriate internal platforms put in place – for example, at monthly team meetings, HR consultations, suggestion boards, etc.
The role of the modern HR Manager is so much more than just hiring & firing and keeping up to date with current employment legislation. Nowadays, it’s as much about working as part of the wider management team, working closely with the Directors, supporting new business initiatives, implementing change management, and possibly most importantly, ensuring its people’s continued positive development.
Without staff, you don’t have a business, and you most definitely don’t have a good business without good staff! These are challenging times for everybody, and more so than ever, we need to make sure we’re always there for our staff and that they know this is the case.