They say there are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and, finally, Acceptance. When Wellington’s recruiters had the All of Government recruitment services contract foisted upon them back in 2012, they were told in tender documents that one of the chief aims of the exercise was to cut $30 million from the Government’s annual agency recruitment spend.
In a relatively small recruitment community, this number represented a big impact to the bottom lines and balance sheets of recruitment firms only just dusting themselves off from the recession.
Grief, for that princely sum lost, set in.
Denial featured strongly at first, with a number of prominent brands making a show of denouncing the exercise and declaring that they wouldn’t lower themselves to bidding for such meagre fees and rates. Recruitment firms like Find, Parker Bridge and Global Attract have remained on the outside and don’t appear to have suffered too badly for it, whereas some of the firms who dropped their pants so low to stagger into the party have struggled to find a way to make it work.
Anger manifested itself in many places, not least of them the comments section of my blog posts at the time, with the post All-Of-Government Recruitment A Bitter Pill To Swallow still the most read in the five years of this blog’s existence.
Bargaining followed. There was talk of one large global brand not making the panel, before using their position of global power and influence, now waning, to lobby their way into the contract. Some of the companies previously in denial, like 920 and Talent International, changed their tunes when it became apparent that it was probably better to be in than out, purchasing Talent Point and Neal Andrews respectively in order to gain entry to the party.
Depression was the primary feature of the rest of 2012 and most of 2013. As Auckland’s economy started gathering speed and Christchurch began reinventing itself, John Key told a gathering of Auckland business people “The reality is even Wellington is dying and we don’t know how to turn it around.” Recruitment Directors pined for the dwindling whiteboard stats and expense account cuts, while desperately seeking ways to rejig their teams and commission plans to eke out a profit from the Government vacancies they filled.
And then we finally arrive at Acceptance. In a visit to Wellington last week I found a town full of recruiters reasonably satisfied and happy that AOG’s procurement people had decided to roll the contract on for another year with the existing panel in place. In medieval times the downtrodden serfs begrudgingly paid tithes to the landlords in their castles, leaving very little to live off from working their fields, but they were certainly happier to be safely ensconced within the town walls rather than left to forage for grubs out in the wolf-infested forests. The reality is that, after nearly three years, there are a core collection of firms, of varying sizes, who have found ways to make delivering to the AOG contract work for them. Having finally reached this state, they are in no mood to suddenly have the drawbridge lowered to welcome in the outside hordes once again.
Anecdotal commentary from a couple of sources are that the Government have shaved about $16 million off their annual spend too, so it’s only half as bad as expected. Well done Wellington recruiters, keep on keeping on.
As an aside I’ll be back in Wellington again next week, talking at an event being organised by Contractor Management company The Detail and online payroll and timesheeting company Flexitime. Come along, say hi, listen to my ramblings on flexible working, and have a drink or two. It’ll be great to meet some of my Whiteboard readers from our oh so cool little Capital.
RSVP here. Hopefully see you there.