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The Culture in the Recruitment Industry is Broken – 6 Tips to Fix It

The Culture in the Recruitment Industry is Broken – 6 Tips to Fix It

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Last edited May 8, 2023

The Culture in the Recruitment Industry is Broken – 6 Tips to Fix It

With most of us spending an average of over 90,000 hours at work in our lifetime it is no wonder that a poor work environment can affect our mental health. Work-related mental ill-health is estimated to be costing businesses up to £26 billion every year, so we need to make sure we take care of our employees’ mental health.The recruitment industry undoubtedly has a reputational problem.

For instance, if you Google the phrase, ‘Recruiters are’, these are the highest-ranking suggestions (as of October 2018):

Although these results must be taken with a pinch of salt, there’s certainly something to be said about the reputation recruiters have. Whilst many businesses believe that their company culture offers something unique and exciting, this is quite often not the case.

Ultimately, the culture of your company should feed into everything that you’re trying to achieve and therefore, it is vital for the reputation of the industry.At The Recruitment Network, we’ve been running weekly Twitter polls (#TheRecPoll), asking for opinions on the latest industry topics.

Recently we asked why recruiters think they have a bad reputation and found that 52% voted ‘not giving feedback’ is to blame.With this as one of the main causes of recruiters’ bad reputation, it raises the question of whether recruitment companies’ cultures are fit for purpose.

The term ‘company culture’ is frequently misinterpreted as being the items you provide for your staff or the office space you have.

You’ll most likely have seen Google appear if you researched company culture, with its quirky office spaces and commitment to learning becoming synonymous with the term.

However, culture needs to run deeper than this. Whilst a comfortable office environment is certainly important, culture needs to begin with a values-led approach.

Check out our top tips below for how to fix your culture:


1). Conduct a discussion with your employees about the values they want

If you’ve already got some values, you’ll need to assess how effective these are. Can your employees name them? Do they know what they need to be doing to show these values? Are they a part of your hiring process? If the answer is no to any of these questions, then your values aren’t as effective as they could be.

If you haven’t made any, then you’ll need to create some and involve your staff in the process.

The best way to do this is by having discussions and creating values that come from the people who work for the business. For instance, this can come from a meeting or an anonymous survey, but ultimately, you should have between 5 and 10 strong values that should be demonstrated by your staff in their day to day work.

2). Be honest about the business & its direction

Another way to improve your culture is to make the connection between the work that your staff do and the wider goals of the business clear. By keeping your staff up to date with the goals of the business, you can make them feel that their work is more meaningful and important.

You can easily do this by integrating updates into your meetings with the whole team, or on an individual basis. Alternatively, you can display these goals within the office and update them frequently.

If your team are doing well and are helping to advance the business towards its wider goals, make it known!

3). Integrate values into everything you do

Once your values have been decided, outline the behaviours that show these in your employees’ everyday work and use examples when explaining them to your staff. If you’ve included your staff (which you should do) in this discussion, then they will be able to tell you what this behaviour looks like.

If something isn’t working well, you can then use the values to challenge it. These values should also be adopted by management and used to hold them accountable also. If all of your employees are on board, it becomes much easier to challenge and reward the work that your staff are


Below is a visual example which shows one of our values and its associated behaviours:


4). Reward people for showing these values

Consider whether there are small ways you can reward your employees. For instance, is there a way you can create an anonymous system where your staff can congratulate someone who has demonstrated one of the values?

Do you have a scheme where you congratulate your employees for their work and how involved are they with your values?

Even a small monetary investment in a monthly incentive can generate a lot of engagement and is a worthwhile consideration.

5). Shout about them

Once you have these values decided and you’re actively involved in promoting and encouraging them, make sure you’re shouting about them.

Take this opportunity to showcase on social media and in your job adverts the values that your company has. Show how your company uses these as part of working life and if you have successes based on these – shout about them on your social media as well as in your office.

6). Make it a part of your hiring process

If you’ve got a clearly defined culture, then you need to integrate it into your hiring process. Finding the right cultural fit for your business is just as important as finding someone who is skilled enough to do the job.

Some skills can be taught, but a cultural fit is something you need to find in the person.

One way to successfully do this is to outline your values and expectations on your job adverts and include your employees as part of the interviewing process. The chances are that candidates will also be looking at your website and social profiles, so ensure that they’re visible here too.

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