How to make a new hire feel welcomed?

How to make a new hire feel welcomed?

We’ve all been there. It’s your first day in a new job at a brand new company.

It can be an extremely stressful experience, no matter how excited you are to be there or to have got the job. So why, when we’ve all experienced this, do we so often forget what it’s like? All too frequently, companies fail to welcome their new hires properly.

Those first few days in a job can shape an employees’ first impressions of your company and their expectations for the future. Changing jobs is a huge switch and can cause a lot of mental turbulence. Research shows that it can take 3-9 months for a new hire to feel settled and behave “authentically”. Of course, if a new hire isn’t appropriately welcomed, it can likely take longer than this. 

If a new hire fails to settle and consider themselves to be part of the team, it seems inevitable that they will eventually look to settle somewhere else. According to the Work Institute Retention Report, “more than 3 in 4 employees who quit could have been retained by employers.”

So, when quality candidates are difficult to source, and the hiring process can be so costly, it makes sense to make sure you help your new employees to settle in.

So, here are some tips for welcoming a new hire.

1. Prepare for them arriving.

Nothing makes someone feel less welcome than feeling as though they’d been forgotten about. Make sure a desk is prepared for them. Maybe add a welcoming gift or a card. Add some personal touches that show you’ve prepared for their arrival.

2. For their first day, give them a later start time.

Chances are, you still have last minute things to organise. Maybe you need to set up their laptop or get some work out of the way, so you can spend the time with them that you need to. It’s much better that when they arrive, everything’s ready to go, rather than waiting around for tasks to be completed. Also, nobody sleeps well the night before a new job. Giving them an extra hour provides an added touch of thoughtfulness.

3. Introduce them to everyone.

Of course, this is more difficult in very large companies, so it’s not always entirely attainable. However, a newly hired employee should be introduced to all the members of their own team, at the very least. If you want to go one step further, you could try team bonding exercises to really break the ice.

4. Take them out for lunch.

Keep this a relatively small affair, depending on who they’ll be working most closely with. Then, use this time to get to know them a little better. The interview process can be gruelling, and it can result in you only getting to know a particular side of each other. So, take away the pressure and just spend some time with them.

5. Introduce them to their new role slowly.

Don’t throw them in at the deep end to see if they sink or swim. Not everyone deals with tests all that well. When you’ve been with a company for a long time, it can be easy to forget that ingrained processes and systems are only familiar to you because you’ve been doing them over and over. For a new hire, those processes will take time to learn. So, spend the first few days giving them that time, while completing small tasks so that they slip seamlessly into their new role over the next couple of weeks. 

6. Get the paperwork done. However, maybe don’t do it first thing.

Many companies recommend getting the paperwork out of the way, which is entirely understandable. However, consider leaving it until the second day, especially if there’s a lot of paperwork. This approach means that the employees first day can be dedicated solely to familiarising themselves with the place and the people. Spending your first day locked in an office filling out several different types of form can be an underwhelming start to a new job.

7. Give them a chance to speak.

At the end of the day, this is a massive step for them. They’re now dedicating their time to pursuing a career with your company. They might need to talk to be able to process the change. So, instead of always telling them new things that they need to take on board and learn, ask them questions. Give them a chance to feedback on the hiring process. Make them feel safe to acknowledge if they’re not quite sure about something. 

Ultimately, the most important part of welcoming a new hire is making them feel comfortable. Everyone’s different, and some hires will require more attention than others.

However, it is crucial for a longstanding relationship that the first impression is positive. Otherwise, you will spend twice the time trying to make up for a negative first impression, wasting both your time and theirs.

So, remember your own experiences as a new hire. There’s no rulebook, and these are just some ideas. Rather, treat people the way you would like to be treated, and you’ll be on the right track.

Employer brand ambassador training with Elsevier

Over a couple of days in June, the Talent Works International team ran an employer brand ambassadors training workshop at Elsevier’s Head Quarters Amsterdam. The purpose of this was to enable Elsevier’s brand ambassadors to understand how to use their online presence to support the Elsevier employer brand.

In this candidate-driven market, it is important to ensure that your company’s employer brand is attractive. According to Media Planet, every organisation needs exceptional content to feed its social media engine.

So, as part of a long-term attraction strategy, employer brand ambassadors can act as representatives of your company. By having a consistent online presence, ambassadors can communicate your company culture, affecting the workplace from the inside out.

Who can be a Brand Ambassador?

The workshop included people of all ages, from all around the world. So, the question we asked was, what unites all these brand ambassadors?

These were all people who had volunteered to be ambassadors on behalf of their employer. So, what drew them together was a shared passion. Where some of them might have more online experience than others, they all had a passion for their brand in common.

In bringing them all together, we were able to create a space in which they could share and learn from one another, as well as from us. We led workshops that encouraged interaction and conversation.

We encouraged them to embrace their uniqueness

An important aspect of being an ambassador is using your individuality to promote your company. After all, no one wants to work somewhere that doesn’t value diversity of thought. So, we led them through sessions which enabled them to discover their tone of voice and how best to use it.

Ultimately, the role of an ambassador is not to become a carbon clone of your company. The purpose of an ambassador is to emphasise and represent your company while also being uniquely yourself. So, the training was less about teaching them something new, and more about enabling them to tap into the abilities they already have.

How do you promote your employer brand?

An employer brand ambassador can use social media to promote their brand. By their brand, we also mean their own personal brand.

Discovering your tone of voice is all about finding what you want to say, and how you want to say it. This understanding of yourself can come from knowing the impression you want to leave on people. That will change from person to person, and from team to team.

Authenticity is attractive to potential employees

It means they can trust the culture you portray. For example, someone who works in tech is best suited to communicate and promote to other people working in tech, and someone in marketing can communicate to others in marketing. According to Forbes, people no longer trust ads, but they do trust people.

So, when you’ve mastered your tone of voice, you can use your social media platforms to promote your employer brand as an individual. This can be as vague as sharing posts discussing or presenting company culture, to specifically promoting live vacancies.

We shared with the ambassadors the best ways to use each social media platform and how to refine their tone of voice for each one. So, they can use their platforms with confidence to attract and engage both passive and active talent.

Brand ambassadors can form an integral part of your recruitment marketing strategy. After all, who better to promote your brand to future hires than your current employees?

More than 80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective

This is because ambassadors form a trusting relationship with their audience over time, which enables them to speak to them on a personal level. Similar to content marketing, trust is the key here. Brand awareness is not about reaching as many people as possible. Rather, it is about reaching those who are right for your business and showing them why they should want to work with you.

Thanks to Elsevier for hosting the Talent Works International team. We loved working with your ambassadors and getting to know them. Heather Niblett, Client Partner for Talent Works International, said, “it’s been great to support Elsevier in educating and training their employer brand ambassadors. They’re investing in their people, and it’s been a great experience to play a part in that.”

You can check out a few pictures of the workshop below, taken by Nathalie Hennis.

Should you be checking your candidates’ social media pages?

These days, most employers check their candidates’ social media accounts. It seems inevitable, in a culture in which social media use is so prevalent. Checking your candidates’ social media can give a quick insight into their personality. It can also be used as a tool to see if the way they’ve portrayed themselves on their CV and during interviews is accurate.

However, is it ethical?

70% of prospective employers check their candidates’ social media profiles, and 7% plan to start. With this many employers’ utilising this method in their recruitment processes, there are questions about ethics that need to be asked. Such as, is this method invading candidates’ personal lives too far? As well as this there are legal risks involved with seeking out information on job applicants further than the information they have directly given you.

Your company may already have strict rules in place about what hiring managers should and should not know about candidates before interview. For example, any company which utilises blind recruitment techniques should not be checking social media profiles.

However, while many companies do not have such strict restrictions in place, all companies have specific guidelines to follow. This is when it comes to avoiding discrimination based on age, gender, sexuality and race. So, is it fair to judge a candidate on how they portray themselves on social media?

Can you avoid personal bias when screening social media profiles?

Social media profiles can reveal all the above characteristics of a candidate. As well as this, social media can open up a window into other, personal aspects of their lives that they have not directly let you in on.

So, if your recruitment process includes social media profile screening, hiring managers should avoid doing this until they have met the candidate for an initial interview. Utilising the technique before the interview stage could result in accusations of a biased approach to recruitment. No matter your companies’ intentions, it’s always best to eradicate room for misinterpretation.

Social media is most commonly used as a place for personal expression. It should, therefore, be considered that most people do not have future employers in mind when updating their profiles. Social media is, essentially, personal, not professional. So, holding candidates to a professional standard on their profile might mean your company turns down applicants who have the potential to be a perfect fit for the job.

Judging a candidate’s profile to assess if they are a good fit for your company culture is like judging a book by its cover. Social media profiles are rarely completely honest. Often, they show particular elements of people’s lives while leaving out huge chunks.

What are recruiters looking for when screening online profiles?

Research shows that recruiters have been put off candidates by specific things that bother them personally. For example, political rants, alcohol consumption and grammatical errors all proved to be red flags.

However, you cannot judge a person’s entire personality from the parts they choose to show on their social media pages. Often, social media tends to exaggerate some aspects of people’s lives by isolating it.

So, ultimately, there is a real risk that your company could be missing out by checking social media profiles. After all, if there are questions you would never ask in an interview, it is best not to find out the answers via social media inadvertently. Social media profiles very rarely paint the full picture.

Of course, there are benefits to checking social media profiles.

Research has shown that 58% of employers who conduct social media screenings are looking for information to support a candidate’s application. For example, to clarify a person’s identity. If candidates make claims about their personality in their CV, you can try to check these against what they show online. You can also use the platform to gain more of a glimpse into who they are, beyond the CV.

However, it is possible that employers are becoming too dependent on this method to support their recruitment processes. According to research, 47% of employers said they wouldn’t call a person for an interview if they can’t find them online. This indicates a reliance on online profiles that, in some cases, eliminates a candidate from the process.

To conclude?

It is easy to presume that most people now use social media in some capacity. However, many people choose not to. So, it is important not to allow preconceptions to overrule ethical and personal recruitment processes.

So, while checking social media pages can have its uses, it is best to do so with caution. Ultimately, never allow the importance of an online presence to come before a face-to-face communication with a candidate. Digital processes can never replace the importance of human interaction.

The case for a flexible working policy

5 Key Benefits

Only 50% of UK employers offer flexible working. Yet, research shows that 87% of the UK’s full-time workforce wants to work flexibly, and 73% of the workforce want a workplace culture where people are judged on the work they do rather than the hours they put in. As well as this, new research shows that flexible working is more important than pay.

So, what is holding some employers back from embracing this modern way of working? Your company could save money, and increase productivity rates.

Flexible working is often seen as an initiative for working parents. However, there are many other benefits to giving employees the freedom to manage their own workload and schedule. These benefits apply not only to employees but also to the company itself.

Natalie Pancheri, HR Policy Advisor at the London School of Economics, has said: “the benefits of flexible working are well established, from increased employee engagement to better performance.”

Research shows that it’s younger workers who most want to work flexibly. As it stands, millennials are due to take over the workplace. So, it makes sense to create a workplace culture that attracts them. After all, in a candidate-driven market, employers need to make sure they have their pick of the talent.

Work-life balance is no longer a concept for the future, but it is entirely achievable now with the right policies and company culture. Heather Niblett, Client Partner for Talent Works International, works in our Northampton office 3 days a week and 2 days a week from home, as she works 2 hours away from the office. She is left to manage her own time, with her days in and out of the office changing from week to week depending on her schedule.

So, we thought we’d take you through some of the key benefits of introducing a flexible working policy into your business.

Employee Retention

As the saying goes, employees don’t leave an employer, they leave a manager. So, it goes to show that employees who feel trusted by their manager to manage their own schedule will feel no need to go elsewhere to find that trust.

High retention rates can save money and boost profitability, as employees gain experience and keep that knowledge within your company. Retaining your staff can also mean that better working partnerships are developed over a period of time. This strengthens working relations, increasing productivity and employee morale.

According to research, 76% of employees who do not feel valued look for other job opportunities.

Employee satisfaction

The value of creating a positive work-life balance for employees cannot be underestimated. Employees who can get their work done on their own terms, while also making time for appointments and self-care (such as a yoga class etc.) are more likely to be happy in their job.

As previously mentioned, employees would rather be valued on their achievements, rather than the time they spend in the office. After all, having employees in the office 8 hours a day has never guaranteed that those are 8 productive hours. If the same amount of work can be achieved while allowing the employee to prioritise their personal life, the employee will be happier.

After all, a happy workforce is a productive workforce.

Reduced commute

The hours an employee spends commuting are not productive hours. By getting rid of the need to commute, the employee can gain back that time to either rest or work. Either way, the employer is gaining an employee who is happier, more motivated and able to achieve more.

Increased productivity

Productivity has been shown to go up when employers utilise flexible working. A study of UK workers has shown that flexible working motivated employees to achieve more at work.

When employees must spend a certain amount of time in the office, they inevitably try to fulfil all their other responsibilities around these hours. So, it’s no wonder employees are burning out trying to achieve everything.

Giving employees the ability to manage their own time ultimately means less time wasted. It provides the employee with the autonomy they need to ensure they are healthy and motivated.

Reduced absenteeism

Employees who are less stressed are less likely to become unwell, ensuring they can continue to give their all to the job. According to research, “work-related stress, anxiety or depression accounts for over half of all working days lost due to ill health.”

It goes to show, taking care of your employees pays off in the end. Having happy employees can affect everything from company profits to your company culture and employer brand. In this candidate-driven market, it is of prime importance for companies to ensure their workplace policies are attracting the best talent in the market.

So, increase employee satisfaction and retention rates and increase your productivity rates by enabling your employees to manage their own workload. By trusting your employees to manage their time, you will cultivate a culture of trust and honesty. This will, in turn, result in loyal staff and low turnover rates. Ultimately, there’s everything to gain and nothing to lose by implementing a flexible working policy in your workplace.

Introducing Ken Kane: Business Development Director

As Talent Works International turns 10 this year, we are welcoming our new Business Development Director, Ken Kane. To introduce him, we thought the best way was to sit down with him and get to know him a little better.

So, read on to hear all about Ken, his vision for Talent Works International and the future of RPO.

So, Ken, where did you start?

What, you mean my whole career?

Yes, your whole career. Or, at least the highlights.

I started in radio advertising. My boss came to me and said I think there is a really good opportunity to sell recruitment advertising on the radio. So, I went around to talk to employers in the North East about recruiting using radio as a medium.

What did the radio ads look like?

You let your imagination run wild.

Later on, in my career, I came across a phrase: organisations that build an emotional connection with their people are the organisations that succeed. It’s about having a sense of purpose, aligning organisational values with the values of the people who work there.

Storytelling is something we’re absolutely wired to respond to, it’s in our DNA. As a kid, I still remember being told stories by my mum and my dad before I went to sleep. Those things stay with you.

What happened then?

I had quite a few years in radio, and then I got opened up to the world of agency, in a bit of a back-to-front way. Nissan was opening up in Newcastle. They needed loads of people. So, I approached an agency about utilising radio in the campaign. They said no. So, I thought, right, I’m going to go to Nissan directly. I managed to secure a significant amount of business. Then, the agency rang me up and said they wanted commission on it. I said absolutely not, and then they ended up hiring me.

So, that’s how I got into the world of agencies, when employer brand was still in its infancy.

So, you’ve seen the development of the concept of employer brand?

Yes. Candidates nowadays behave like B2B consumers and organisations have to respond to that. The power is in the hands of the candidate. So, organisations have to market themselves effectively, building a relationship with candidates and making sure that the employment promise meets the reality.

Many agencies will say that organisations have an employer brand which is distinct from a consumer brand. However, I don’t subscribe to that.

Do you think it’s all one and the same?

I think it always has been. Essentially, a brand is the soul and essence of an organisation. It’s shaped by a number of things including culture, values and behaviours. The promise an organisation makes to a consumer is different from the promise it makes to an employee, but it all comes from the same place.

Traditionally, if you look at the market, the line between the customer and the brand has been considered most important. That’s marketing. However, now, it’s about the customer experience, which is driven by people. So, the line of importance in an organisation is firmly on the relationship between brand and people (employees).

If you get the people bit right, you create engagement, which drives higher levels of discretionary effort. Innovation comes as a natural consequence of that. This then impacts on customer experience and creates greater customer attraction. If customers are spending more, then there’s greater shareholder value.

The latest PWC Chief Executives Report says that the biggest inhibitor to growth is not having the talent in the business to support growth.

This is where Talent Works International comes in.

Why do you think companies are struggling to find the talent they need?

I’m going to use a lot of cliché terms here… there’s a war for talent, and it’s a candidate-driven market. People have got a choice, so companies need to ask why candidates should choose them over somebody else. As a result, everybody’s after the passive candidate.

Many organisations fail to define their purpose and do not engage with their audience on an emotional level.

We’ve got the communications and creative capability to deliver the right message, as well the insight and data expertise to ensure that we land it in front of the right people, in the right place at the right time. Allied to this, our RPO capability is agile and scalable, blending brilliant sourcing with the best candidate experience to solve short and longer-term term recruitment needs. What’s not to like?

How do you feel about joining Talent Works International?

I’ve never been so excited to join an organisation as I am about joining Talent Works International. I went home after my initial chat with Neil, and I said to my wife, “I want to work there.” My intuition was telling me that this business is going in the right direction and that’s something I want to be part of.

What would you say is your passion?

My first boss said to me, “if you hire good people, your job will become much easier.” I’m all about hiring people who are on it. Either, they’re better than me now, or they have the potential to be better than me. My job is to enable them to fulfil their potential.

How do you spot talent?

What I look for is curiosity and a willingness to learn. As well as this, people who are prepared to put the hard yards in.

I think, looking at the generations coming up, we’re not recruiting shrinking violets, are we? We’re looking at people with strong values and opinions, and I think that’s a great thing for the workplace.

How do you want to influence this role?

The market is really ready for what we do. So, I want to be the evangelist who plays a part in the team and then goes out and tells the world about what Talent Works International do. I bring a breadth of experience in recruitment and employer brand, as well as creative and digital media. These are all things that are really relevant in solving the problems that employers face today.

What’s your vision for the future of RPO?

I’d like us to redefine what RPO is, rather than being defined by it. Our solutions are relevant to the demands of the organisations that we’re working for. We do RPO differently.

To find out more, you can contact Ken at

Ethical attraction for top choice employers

These days, ethics are powerful. The market is candidate rich, so, employers have tough competition. Therefore, a company which stands for something can cut through the noise.

Think about how negative press attention can damage a company’s reputation. Well, the opposite is true as well. Implementing an ethical philosophy and strategy within your business will keep your reputation exactly where you want it to be and promote sustainable development.

With unemployment “estimated at 3.9%”, a strong employer brand is hugely important. Managing your employer brand is all about communication. How you communicate with your workforce, your clients, and your prospective candidates about what your company has to offer.

Sometimes, companies make the mistake of thinking that what they have to offer only benefits their employees. However, businesses are increasingly being held accountable for their principles, and their responsibility to give back.

Who’s demanding this change?

This is partly due to the influx of millennial talent shaking up the workplace with a culture built on emotional intelligence. We are in a time of increasing engagement with, and awareness of the world around us. Research shows that millennials are more likely to choose employment with “workplaces with social purpose.

As well as this, in society, there is an increasing cry for action on topics with environmental impacts, such as climate change. This is especially true for large organisations. Such businesses are more likely to be asked to take responsibility for being part of global change.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as the ethical principles that ought to govern the relationship between the corporation and society. Of course, it is valid to question whether corporations really do have a responsibility to their communities. However, CSR benefits, not just the local community in which an organisation is based, but the corporation itself.

So, what are the benefits of incorporating a CSR programme for your employer brand?

Attract high-quality candidates

According to Talent Economy, millennials have high expectations for the actions of business when it comes to social purpose and accountability. They want to work for companies that uphold these values. Therefore, CSR strategies are an integral part of any company’s employer branding and talent attraction campaigns. This is especially true if they want to appeal to new, up and coming talent entering the workplace.

Millennials may be leading the way on social action. However, across the board there is an upward trend toward enterprises that place ethics and ethical business practices at their core. Candidates want to gain a sense of purpose from their work. This may even be the reason they are looking to leave their current position.

As such, you can beat the competition for high-quality candidates. Your employer branding should communicate, before they even interview, that your company is a frontrunner when it comes to giving back.

Establishes your voice

Maybe you want to fund extra-curricular classes for young people in the community, or you want to sponsor a local event. You could donate the time of your employees to local charities. Or, you could focus your CSR efforts on environmental sustainability and focus on reducing waste.

Whatever your company chooses to do establishes your company’s voice. Establishing your voice can be a fantastic way of engaging prospective candidates and giving a sneak peek into your company culture.

Providing job seekers with this look inside your corporate culture allows them to assess whether they share the values of the company. Therefore, they can analyse whether they are a good fit. This can lead to much more quality hires and better retention rates.

Engages employees

Research has shown that millennials would take a pay cut and be more loyal to a company which provides them with the opportunity to contribute to social and environmental issues. By being a responsible business, which actively engages its employees in CSR initiatives, employers can engage employees and increase morale.

The benefits of a happy workforce are well known, promoting productivity, creativity, retention and boosting profits.

Generate positive publicity

Patagonia has had a remarkable employer brand for many years. In a candidate-driven market, Patagonia has their pick of the talent pool. They are leading the way with paid environmental internships and incentives for travelling to work in a way other than driving. Having such a strong employer brand with an emphasis on environmental consciousness results in just a 6% voluntary turnover rate among full-time employees.

CSR and ethical initiatives are not new concepts in the workplace. However, they are increasingly gaining relevance. More and more employees want their employer to take responsibility, to play their part in sustaining the environment and creating social change.

Your company doesn’t have to be an expert in a topic to play a part in advancing the cause. As well as the employment and economic benefits, being an ethical, forward-thinking employer feels good all round and creates a great atmosphere.

The best candidates have their pick of the top companies. So, let your reputation in ethical issues precede you. As a result, when it comes to the crunch, your company should already be at the top of the list.

Talent mapping: Get ahead of the game

What is talent mapping?

In advance of live vacancies, a recruiter scours the market and identifies the top talent in a field. This process is called talent mapping. Potential candidates are sought out by the recruiter with short, medium and long-term employment goals in mind.

As such, talent mapping ensures that emergency hiring situations don’t leave companies powerless, waiting and hoping for the right candidates to apply. Chances are when a company utilises talent mapping, they have already identified a pool of candidates ready to go straight to interview.

When hiring for a live vacancy, a company will receive applications from candidates actively looking for a new role. However, this leaves a wealth of passive talent unexplored. Businesses can make quality hires by reaching out to those who are right for a position before a vacancy goes live.

This approach, therefore, provides companies with the opportunity to tailor a job role to the right candidate. As part of the process, recruiters can engage candidates to find out what it is they want from their next role. So, when employers are prepared, they can respond to a talent need swiftly and efficiently having already established relationships with suitable candidates.

In this sense, talent mapping can also be used purely for market research purposes. If a business wants to increase employee engagement and retention in the workplace, utilising talent mapping to understand what your competitors are providing can be a powerful tool. This can cover everything from the specifics of a job role and the expectations attached, to salary, benefits and seniority.

How can talent mapping support candidate attraction?

Talent mapping isn’t just about listing names, companies and locations. Rather, talent mapping aims to open up conversations with potential candidates and establish a relationship. By getting directly in contact with a candidate, a company is sending a strong message that they are particularly keen to work with that person. This then enables the business to establish if the candidate is interested in their potential offer and put a follow-up plan in place.

Previously, the market has relied on employers choosing candidates. However, while we are in the middle of a global talent shortage, the power is in the candidates’ hands. This doesn’t mean employers can’t still have a strategy in place to help them reach the best, most relevant talent in the market. However, it means employers need to utilise attraction campaigns and techniques to market their employer brand effectively.

Talent mapping is a hugely valuable asset to talent attraction campaigns. By having a detailed awareness of the market, and their competitors, an employer can ensure that they are continuing to provide the best offering. This can be utilised company-wide, to improve the overall corporate culture and work environment, as well as in attraction campaigns.

So, how does talent mapping work?

Talent mapping often requires companies to question what they want to achieve, and when they want to have achieved it by. As such, it is an essential part of any business which wants to put a successful scaling strategy in place.

Talent mapping creates a reference for the internal talent you have, and the talent you are likely to need. By mapping the company structure, you can then identify the talent gaps you will eventually need to fill. Identifying these gaps means that you can then look externally, if you need to, for the right people to fill those vacancies.

However, it also means that you can invest in training the team members in your company who could eventually fill those roles. Identifying potential in the workplace and investing in career development, in turn, promotes employee engagement and positive company culture.

Putting a strategy in place enables companies to put these plans in place with plenty of time to see them through. As such, talent mapping is not a quick, short term process. Rather, it requires a long-term investment to see the results that will make a difference. So, while planning ahead can be hugely effective, it requires the time investment to make it worthwhile.

How can my company implement a talent mapping strategy?

This is where an agency can prove itself most useful. Even if you don’t already outsource your recruitment processes, talent mapping can require time that your in-house team don’t have.

Alternatively, if you do outsource your recruitment processes, finding an agency which can combine both talent mapping with your day-to-day recruitment can mean that there is more value in the service you are receiving. With an approach that thinks ahead, you are much more likely to make quality hires with a greater chance of job satisfaction and retention.

Talent mapping is a highly flexible, versatile recruitment tool. As a process, it can be used to achieve such a variety of different goals that trying to put it in a box is futile. It is this flexibility that perhaps makes talent mapping a more difficult process to understand.

However, the goal of talent mapping is always to provide an insight into the market and can be undertaken with absolute confidentiality if necessary. It is the use and value of this insight that can then be used in a variety of ways to support your company. As such, talent mapping does much more than simply filling a role, giving your company both short and long-term employment strategies.

Our 10 year anniversary: The people behind the brand

On March 1st, Talent Works International turned 10 years old. At the time, we marked the occasion with an interview with our CEO and founder Neil Purcell. As we’re nearing the end of March, we’re getting ready to celebrate in style, and in person, with all our colleagues. So, we thought it was the ideal time to chat to our employees, both new and old, from Northampton, to Manchester and Boston.

The Talent Works experience connects us. Some longstanding employees have built friendships that extend right through to their children and families. As Global Senior Consultant, Tammy Davies says, “I’ve made friends here I will carry for life.”

Some newcomers are just integrating themselves into the fold and, as such, making their mark. In this blog we’re listening to them all and collating their experiences in one place to give our readers an insight into who the people behind the brand are.

When did TWI start?

Jody Russell, Business Support Manager, is TWI’s longest standing employee, having been with the business since the day of its inception. As she had worked with Neil previously, Jody was excited by his vision to build his own company, and she agreed to join him on the journey.

We started off in a converted barn, on a farm. The countryside was lovely, but it was freezing in the winter, baking in the summer. But we were all in it together. As a company, we still tend to feel like we are all in it together. It feels like family to me because it’s been such a massive part of my life, for the last 10 years. To me, it’s more than a business. I can’t ever see it not being exciting, different or challenging.

So, what happened then?

In the interim between then and now, TWI has both grown and evolved to meet the demands of the ever-changing recruitment climate. Simon Thomas, Brand & Strategy Director, said the business is unrecognisable from when he joined. He said, in terms of continuing development, he’s learned to expect the unexpected.

Talent Works started as pure Talent Mapping and Executive Search, before establishing a team dedicated to Brand & Insight to provide a more tailored solution to our clients. Just over 3 years ago, we established our RPO offering and have seen this strand of our business move from strength to strength ever since. What we’re now providing is a source of difference in the market, combining RPO with our Creative, Insight and Digital offerings to provide flexible strategies for our clients.

We opened our Boston branch over 5 years ago, at a similar time to our Manchester based Creative team, with our VP of North America Jody Robie at the helm. This move established us as an international force. Jody has worked in television journalism, producing and reporting, as well as in recruitment, so she bought a new strand of forward thinking and creativity to the leadership team.

Our services now cover everything sourcing and employer brand related. The diversity of the solutions we can provide has enabled our continual growth over the years and brought us all the way to our 10-year anniversary.

What adventures have we had along the way?

During these 10 years we have maintained a culture of celebration. We have always placed an emphasis on rewarding internal achievements and milestones. This value comes from an innate belief that we should practice what we preach, cultivating an employer brand that not only attracts the best talent, but makes the most of the talent we already have.

We have many examples of how we have chosen to encourage and value our staff over the years. For example, on Geoff Pedder’s (Lead Consultant, Brand & Insight) third day in the business he won a TV on an away day after winning a Go-Carting competition. He was a bit surprised, to say the least, but when we celebrate our staff we do it well.

Over the years we have organised holidays, from Marbella to Las Vegas. Hollie Stiff, Senior Client Partner, recalls business class flights, and VIP tables with bouncers. Tammy Davies remembers attending football games, and The Player of the Year Awards with Neil, who is a dedicated Manchester United fan.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games. We work hard, and we are committed to supporting the growth and development of our people in more personal ways as well. Hollie Stiff, TWI Senior Client Partner, cites her huge respect for Neil, and “what hes done for me in my career.” Sophia, Art Director, joined TWI in the Manchester office as a Junior Designer. After 3 months she was promoted to Art Director and has since taken part in pitches and won them. Alongside the fun and the successes, there have of course been difficult decisions but, as Simon Thomas says…

How has the new office changed TWI?

In 2018 we invested in an exciting office renovation in Northampton. It has resulted in a space we are remarkably proud of. This is not just because it is a beautiful place to spend each day, but because it is a sign of our investment in and respect for our employees. As Geoff Pedder says, the office in Northampton is a huge statement. It promotes collaboration, but also provides space to get away. Jody Russell says, we want our staff to have the best surroundings, to make their days better. You spend so much of your time at work, it’s important to be somewhere that has colour and warmth.

At Talent Works we are so excited for the next step in our adventure, but we are loving being able to reflect on our achievements as we celebrate reaching 10 years old. We have experienced both highs and lows over the last 10 years. However, throughout it all, we are proud to have grown the business and retained our identity throughout. We have ensured our focus remains on our core values, putting our people and our clients first.

Currently, it is an extraordinary time to be in recruitment. Curating a powerful employer brand is essential in a market which is so candidate rich. While we’re interested to see the future of AI and how it affects recruitment, we believe in the importance of human connection and interaction. As always, we remain committed to having the best talent on the job.

The benefits of mindfulness in the workplace

Research shows that employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours.

In a culture of overwork, pushing yourself too hard becomes a self-defeating cycle. No one can continue to push themselves beyond their limits before burnout becomes inevitable. Burnout then leads to a significant reduction in motivation and productivity, and an inability to successfully function.

So, it seems that working too hard does not necessarily equal productivity. However, research has shown that where fewer than 10% of employees used to check their email outside of working hours, today it is 50%. Clearly, our modern-day work-life balance is declining, despite the rise in the use of technology.

The question remains then, how can we enable employees to manage their workload better? To ensure they don’t just avoid burnout but are happy in their workplace. After all, happy employees are up to 20% more productive.

What is mindfulness?

According to Mindful, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation practices, although practical everyday techniques don’t require any study or dedication to a specific ideology. Essentially, the practice of being mindful should both centre and focus you, enabling you to remain unaffected by external distractions.

Why is it useful in the workplace?

A lack of distraction should inevitably boost productivity. As well as this, the ability to be aware of and remain connected to your own personal centre is an extraordinarily helpful tool for taking care of your mental health.

In today’s world, far too little attention is paid to mental health in general, let alone the mental health of workers. The World Health Organisation has estimated that stress costs American businesses 300 billion a year. So, investing in the mental health of employees could, in the long run, save companies an enormous amount of money.

As well as this, the neurological benefits of mindfulness have been linked to an increase in emotional intelligence, specifically empathy and self-regulation. This enables employees to communicate more effectively, making the workplace less stressed and ultimately happier. Mindfulness then creates a positive cycle, as employee retention rates tend to go up when people are happy at work.

Who else is doing it?

In response to such research, more and more companies are implementing mindfulness programs to promote positive mental wellbeing in the workplace. For example, Goldman Sachs, Google, Apple and Nike all prioritise mindfulness meditation as part of their employee development programs.

In 2007, Google developed a programme called Search Inside Yourself. The programme is now so successful that it is not only utilised within the company by employees but is being offered to the public beyond Google. The programme begins with 2 days of live training before the participant undertakes 4 weeks of virtual practice, ending with a 1-hour webinar. According to Google, the programme has been proven to: “reduce stress, improve focus, raise peak performance, and improve interpersonal relationships.” Search Inside Yourself has proven so popular it normally has a “wait list stretching six months.”

American healthcare company Aetna reported that after implementing a mindfulness programme, healthcare costs fell “a total of 7 per cent”. Productivity gains alone were about $3,000 per employee. Results like these prove that mindfulness is a worthwhile pursuit for employers.

As not all companies are large enough to establish their own programme, here are some “mindfulness hacks which can be implemented in the workplace.


Breathing mindfully can help to centre your attention by focusing your thoughts on your breathing alone. Get into a comfortable position in a quiet place, with no distractions, and focus on your breath. You could even try counting to centre your thoughts even more. One example of how to do this is by breathing in for 3 seconds, holding your breath for 2, and exhaling out for 4 seconds. So, in total, a 9-second breath. This is a great hack not just for your everyday mindfulness, but also in stressful situations. Practicing breathing exercises can “help employees stay on task and reduce stress.

Take a mindful break

Staring at a screen for too long can cause insomnia, brain fog, short-term memory loss, vision strain and headaches in droves. So, take a break. Go for a walk. Instead of taking your laptop into a meeting, take a notepad. Walk away and observe the world around you, the way your colleagues are behaving, the sounds and smells in your work location. Take a moment to engage with your surroundings. When you rest from your work you are, in fact, giving your prefrontal cortex (PFC) chance to take a break. The PFC is responsible for logical thinking, executive functioning, and using willpower to override impulses. When one area of the brain is used for so much, it’s hardly surprising it needs some downtime. Allowing it chance to function properly will aid your productivity in the long run.

Mindfulness podcasts & apps

If there’s anything we have an abundance of now, it’s podcasts. There’s a podcast out there for everything, including mindfulness and meditation. There are also several apps available which are programmed to deliver short guided meditations. Just a 15-minute journey with your headphones in can give you the space you need and boost your motivation levels. Sometimes, when a lot is going on, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Taking yourself away from the noise with a podcast or meditative episode can enable you to find your centre and focus in on the most essential task.  Some TWI favourites include Calm, which provides meditations of various lengths, and Binaural, which generates beats to help you meditate, sleep and concentrate.

Focus on being, instead of doing

While you’re away from your desk, take a few minutes to pay attention to how you feel away from the distractions of tasks and deadlines. It doesn’t matter if that feeling is negative, simply noticing your natural state can keep you in touch with your centre. It might be that noticing how you really feel gives you the opportunity to pay attention to your needs. If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you treat yourself kindly. Do something that makes you feel happy or calm, like walking, or yoga. As Positive Psychology says, being mindful of your thoughts and emotions promotes wellbeing.

Mindfulness is what you make it. There are no definitive rules, but the above suggestions are great techniques to get you started. Giving your mental health the time, and space it needs could give you the clarity you need at work. For employers, it could be the difference between happy employees, and unhappy employees. Try implementing some of the above techniques into your routine and discover what a difference they make.