10/06/2010 - 00:00

CPE Group plans for growth post-GFC

10/06/2010 - 00:00


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THE instability caused by the global financial crisis forced many businesses to rethink their recruitment strategy or, in some cases, put a complete freeze on hiring new staff.

CPE Group plans for growth post-GFC

THE instability caused by the global financial crisis forced many businesses to rethink their recruitment strategy or, in some cases, put a complete freeze on hiring new staff.

And although the market is steadily picking up, more challenges are on the way for those looking to attract and retain staff, according to Insync Surveys’ report on the 2010 WA Business News Best Employer Awards.

Its fitting, then, that the winner of the small business category was recruitment firm CPE Group, which has first-hand experience in the retention of staff – not only for its clients, but more recently within the agency’s own workforce.

“The Perth employment market is improving every day and with media positioning another expected labour shortage, candidate confidence is steadily increasing and they are more assured to seek out a change,” CPE Group general manager Justine Smetham said.

“During the GFC candidates were less confident to move jobs, temporary staff sought more secure permanent employment and clients attempted to minimise recruitment spend with less agency usage.”

Even with almost 20 years of IT, health care and office support staff recruitment, CPE Group didn’t escape the ripple effect. Coupled with a change in ownership, the GFC had a significant impact on the agency and in 2009 a number of senior employees were made redundant.

Since her appointment in September last year, Ms Smetham has been intent on rebuilding staff trust and a sense of ownership in the business to drive future growth.

“Every employee is empowered and encouraged to uphold our values and trust that these are the right values to take our business forward,” Ms Smetham said. “A number of exceptional team members have now been brought into the business providing a new energy and expertise so we can achieve this.”

She said that while remuneration has been on hold for many during the GFC, a strengthening economy, higher salaries and last month’s minimum wage increase were certain to draw candidate attention. “Remuneration conversations can be challenging,” Ms Smetham’s said. “However, good candidates are using counter offers to their advantage in their negotiations.”

Ms Smetham told WA Business News she hoped the agency’s participation in the awards would help CPE Group determine where it was placed on its journey to become an employer of choice. The data will contribute towards CPE’s people planning for the next 12 months and “it is probable that changes could occur depending on the findings and insights provided”.

CPE Group management consults with its team members when possible on key development areas, such as branding, and keeps them informed about the business and its priorities.

Considering Insync Surveys’ overall analysis found both senior and middle management had noticeable shortcomings on communicating with team members, Ms Smetham is confident CPE Group’s processes are robust.

In addition to regular group and individual meetings and a monthly newsletter, the agency places high importance on recognising and celebrating personal achievements and birthdays, as well as business milestones such as the completion of a call centre upgrade. CPE Group’s organisation values – be passionate, be honest, be better and be customer driven – are discussed daily and by demonstrating these values, employees are eligible for a quarterly values award.

“Fundamentally I believe that every team member wants to contribute to our business and feel valued by our business – their manager, senior management and their colleagues all play a role,” Ms Smetham said.



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