‘Mr Butcher, I would like your best cut of meat. But I don’t want to pay a lot. I’d like your most tender steak, for the price of, say, a regular beef sausage.’ Does that sound odd? It does, doesn’t it? And yet, at InAxtion we come across this type of situation regularly. Clients are looking for well-trained, responsible and dedicated staff, but for the price of mincemeat, so to speak. How do we deal with that?
Marc van Ravenstein, founder and owner of temping agency InAxtion, explains: “Manual labour has not been seen as ‘sexy’ for a long, long time. The industry is dealing with dejuvenation; few people opt for technical training these days, and on top of that, the current pool of workers is ageing. Often, we would invest in new employees who quit after less than a year, choosing to go into a ‘cleaner’ profession. ‘I would like to do something with computers, sir’, they’d say, ‘so I can be home by 6pm, and I won’t even have to get my hands dirty.’ The fact that for many years, fewer people opted to do manual labour makes sense, because the pay wasn’t great either. However, this decline seems to be a thing of the past: nowadays, proper investments in training and education are being made once more. The market is dying for well-trained staff, so there are many more opportunities on offer for those staff members.”
“Everyone is always out to save money. No surprise there, in an industry which features a lot of competition and widely varying quality levels in terms of the staff on offer,” says Marc. “Luckily, most of our clients understand that an investment in quality staff is an investment that will pay for itself, because the project they work on will be completed on time, without any issues. Moreover, clients are increasingly being held responsible for their staff. If you hire people from Eastern Europe for ridiculously low rates, who do not have the right permits or are just shy of being impermissible employees in some way, you are asking for trouble. There goes your staff, and there goes your profit. You’ll still have to complete the job that you offered such a great price for, but now paying higher hourly rates to employ decent staff, and so you can kiss your profit margin goodbye.”