One of the biggest self fulfilling prophecies in the recruiting industry is that summer is “slow". That solitary statement, and, thus, attitude, excuses many unnecessary sins, misdeeds, and pure blatant summer laziness.
We all tend to kick back a bit in the summer and take off some much deserved time. When I speak about the “slow summer" prophecy, I am not talking about recruiters earned vacations: I am talking about the semi-mental “checkout" that occurs right around the Fourth of July weekend and lasts until Labor Day. In many firms this nine week period is some of their weakest productivity wise. It doesn't have to be.
Summer, it does NOT have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
To be credible, I acknowledge that summer can slow down some hiring processes a bit as it becomes more difficult to schedule interviews when our clients are away on vacation. Historically, however, the 3rd quarter has usually exceeded our first and second quarter revenues because I don't buy the “line" that summer is slow anymore. I did when I first opened and for about the next 5 years. Then I noticed my summer attitude was “why bother working so hard if it is slow" and this led to poorer planning, later starts of my day and earlier finishes. This led to fewer job orders and fewer interviews arranged. Voila! I created my own summer slow down and my experience tells me this is what most in the industry do too.
So the question becomes, how do you stop this without becoming a desk pounding, screaming micro manager? One option is to offer an option to have Fridays completely off or a half-day on Friday from the end of June through Labor Day. Now before you call the publishers to demand they no longer publish anything written by me, hear me out. You do NOT just give this away without getting something in return.
Set specific expectations to raise summer numbers.
First, you look at each person's average productivity per week especially in the job order and interview area, but feel free to use any criteria you want. Figure out exactly how many interviews per week, job orders per week, hours of connect time per week, etc. each person is doing that currently meets your minimum expectations for performance.
Second, announce to your people that if they can do that same amount of performance by noon on Friday they are free to leave at that time. Meaning, if they are averaging 2 job orders and 3 interviews a week, working 5 days a week they can leave at noon if they complete that task by that time. Additionally, if you want to get “crazy", using the above example, if they get 3 job orders and 4 interviews by the end of Thursday, they can have Friday completely off.
Break through your mental paradigm
Right now some of you are squirming, because the concept of a free day off just kills you. Or, you could be thinking, “If they can get 4 interviews in four days, why aren't they doing that now?" Get over it! Give your people a strong reason to work focused and hard for four days, and reward them with the fifth day off.
Now, here is the key. If, in week one, someone has no job orders and no interviews, but the next week gets 3 and 4 of each, you do not give them the whole day off, you let them leave at noon. You want to insure that the average for the period of this nine week incentive is close to what you need as the minimum before awarding the time off. This is to say if the person's performance is mediocre week after week, you do not want to award them anything if they have just one good week.
Additionally, I recommend you include the administrative staff on this also. Give them some stretch goals on things you need accomplished and that if 75% of those in your office hit their targets they can also go home at noon Fridays. Now, you have someone truly motivated to end the small talk sessions and someone much more eager to take some of the administrative burden from your account executives.
Now, for those that this concept resonates with, you might begin thinking and asking, that if this works so well, why not do it all year long? Good question. First, few incentive programs should be run all year long as they lose their effectiveness. Second, in those eight to nine summer weeks some of your people's habits will actually change permanently for the good as they get more focused and as they get used to getting more done in less time. Come September and October, these new good habits will be hard to break. I have actually seen this program launch some people into exceptional third and fourth quarter performance.
Extra Time Off Rated as one of the best incentives
Many studies on incentives have consistently stated that one of the best motivators you can give people is extra time off. If you can accomplish your goals and even grow revenue this is a big win for both the owner/manager and the employee. Furthermore, your best performers have more time in the summer to spend doing what they enjoy and decompressing, thus lowering burn-out. So, if you execute this properly, you CAN raise billings, by offering MORE time off.
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