This week, one of our candidates made a career decision based primarily on office décor. They won’t admit this, but it’s the truth. And if you’re a recruitment business of a certain size, this week, one of your candidates did the same thing.

The problem with this for recruiters, is that office environment is the unpolishable turd of hiring decisions. A skilful recruiter can massage the facts around a lower-than-expected salary offer, a slightly different reporting line, or inflexible working hours. However, shy of getting out the Dulux, there’s not much we can do if our clients’ offices look like a Jeffrey Dahmer’s bedsit.

53% of jobseekers claim that they’d turn down a job if the working environment was crap. As recruiters, we work hard to win business. The cold-calls, the InMails, the networking functions. Eventually we crack a prospective client. Like a first date, we slap on the Old Spice and our least-creased shirt, and set off to take a job brief. And as we all know, the brief isn’t just about what our clients are looking for. It’s also about who and what we are selling to our candidates. Ideally, we’re met by George Clooney in a New York loft. Sometimes, however, it’s Frank Spencer in a portacabin.

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“Going cheap” is, as always, a false economy. In our industry, a recruiter who could easily deliver $300k of revenue in year one, has gone to a competitor who spends an extra $15k a year on a more salubrious work space. This is without factoring in both improved staff retention, and improved productivity for existing staff members. The facts speak for themselves. A survey by Samsung suggests that 20% of people have left a job because of the workplace itself. In an industry like ours where recruiters are particularly flighty, I’d expect this to be even higher. With 91% of office workers thinking that the office environment affects their productivity, a UK survey undertaken by workplace designer Peldon Rose, suggests that less than half of workers feel that their current environment actually helps them be productive.

When it comes to modern working practices, the poster child is the growth of coworking. Incredibly “Coworking” as a term and concept was only coined in 2005. To highlight its explosive growth, the biggest global player in the space, WeWork, was this week valued at a staggering US$20bn. Here at Rice Consulting, we’ve been coworkers at our spiritual home of Generator for nearly 7 years. We get the benefit of big business spend, like reception services, and onsite café, without…well.. the big business spend. We also count a number of fellow residences as clients, and some are also suppliers. Arguably most importantly, our staff are more productive because they like where they work, and studies of coworking support this. I’d like to think that it’s also an attractive proposition for anyone who wants to work at Rice Consulting. Yes we are hiring, and yes, this is a shameless plug. The point is, shabby offices, like hotels with WiFi data caps, are fast becoming inexcusable.

If you’re in a position to make the change, I urge you to look around you with fresh eyes. What would you think if you were a fresh-faced Gen-Y-er walking through the door right now? If you think that high performers won’t care, then the stats say that you’re wrong. And if you’re more 1970s IRD than San Fran chic, then it’s probably time to up sticks.

Have a truly magical weekend everyone.

^SM

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