Challenges to HR governance in the recruitment industry and how to overcome them

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At two events hosted by TheJobPost last month, Adrian Marlowe, director of Standards in Recruitment, addressed some 160 HR professionals on issues of governance and compliance in the recruitment industry and introduced the Standards in Recruitment (SiR) accreditation for recruiters.

At both events Marlowe, who is also MD of Lawspeed, the legal partner to SiR and a member of its stakeholder group, spoke about the concept of a single standard for recruitment businesses to make HR governance simpler. In the first event, about banking and finance, the focus was on checking compliance, while the second event looked at healthcare, pharmaceutical and life science recruitment, where there is more of a shortage of skilled talent.

The main challenge for recruiters is filling key positions, particularly in the healthcare and science sectors. Under such conditions, compliance throughout the recruitment process is at risk of slipping down the order of priorities.

Marlowe maintains the trend towards a shortage of skilled personnel is evident in all sectors. “Nowhere is this more obvious than in the NHS” he says. “Hiring managers need staff to treat patients and if they can’t find those workers through agencies that have been assessed according to NHS guidelines, they may be persuaded to use ‘off-list’ agencies. This is exacerbated by the fact that agencies supplying more than one NHS hub have to be assessed by each hub at great cost.”

The same is apparent in the education sector. Schools are obliged to ensure safeguarding when hiring teachers and support staff, and the only way to do that is through independent verification. The question is whether the demand for talent is overshadowing matters of safeguarding within the recruitment process.

Staff shortages in the banking and finance sectors, as well as some other sectors such as IT, involves different challenges. Hiring managers instead face issues such as right to work, immigration, employment and tax liability.

“I believe all hirers and candidates are entitled to some kind of independent assurance that the recruitment business they work with is operating to a set of expected standards,” said Marlowe. “This is the point APSCo recently acknowledged in raising the need for an accreditation that has no connection to trade association membership.”

“Before Standards in Recruitment was launched earlier this year, no such impartial ‘assurance’ existed. The government has ruled out any return to licensing and expects the recruitment industry to self-regulate.”

Marlowe believes there is huge benefit in having an independent accreditation, both for hard-pressed hiring managers who worry about their HR governance, and agencies that want to improve their governance practices and be able to demonstrate this. The Standards in Recruitment (SiR) accreditation, he says, was designed specifically with that purpose in mind.

While Marlowe doesn’t dispute that it takes time for any accreditation scheme to gain traction, he says those who want to improve their HR governance could embrace SiR, which was developed with hirer stakeholders, as the standard of choice.


This article first appeared in Onrec – 7th October 2015

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