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Growth personified

Growth personified

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TALiNT International sat down with Ged Walsh, Everpool Recruitment MD, to hear his thoughts on the industry, business growth and recession proofing your business.

In a year where confidence in the economy has fallen and with more job vacancies than candidates, it’s tempting to cut costs and reduce staff, but Ged Walsh, MD of Everpool Recruitment, is poised to ride the storm – building a robust profitable company with aspirations of trebling in size, expanding into new sectors and positioning Everpool as one of the UK’s top 50 recruitment companies – 2023 is just the beginning.

Everpool Recruitment, based in Liverpool, was established in 2021 after demerging with Meridian Business Support. It is an independently owned national recruitment company specialising in healthcare in both the public and private sectors, and despite being in business for just over a year, they’ve already placed over 500 candidates in jobs. Everpool have now opened legal, accountancy and finance and office and commercial divisions.

TI: With so much economic uncertainty, how do you plan to future-proof your business?

GW: This year, we want to grow the business – with sales and people. I want it to treble in size and become one of the top 50 recruitment companies in the UK. We want to diversify into new markets and increase business sales. In 2022, our target turnover was £2.7 million; this year we are aiming for £4 million and in 2026, the projected total is £5.5 million.

Our head count has increased from 18 in Oct 2021 to 32 in 2022. We’re expanding our square footage from 2,100 to 4,000 square feet, which means we can increase our headcount from 32 to 50 in the next 3-5 years.

We plan to further expand our newest sectors: legal, accountancy/finance and office and commercial. Succession planning is key. We’re looking to bring on a senior person to help grow the business and bring in some senior recruiters in the areas we are looking to expand in.

TI: What advice can you give to other SME recruiters on how to recession-proof their business?

 GW: In a recession, it’s important to analyse all costs and ask, What are we spending, are we getting a return on our investment and are we tracking that? What you often find is there will be certain things you are spending on that you don’t need, and you could be putting that cash into something else that could be more valuable to you. You must ensure that in recruitment, your staff are engaged and it’s important to be flexible. Carry out wellbeing surveys and focus on your existing staff, making sure they stay with you, that’s key. You also need to make sure that your marketing is where it needs to be, looking at your website, systems and procedures to ensure you are moving with the times digitally in an ever-changing world.

TI: So, what are your plans for 2023 and beyond?

GW: As mentioned above, we’re focussing on growing staff numbers and reach. But amongst that, we aim to maintain our core values of integrity and honesty, increase office space and build skill bases. We’re passionate about internal mobility, so we will strive to ensure that our people can learn and grow their careers by focussing on ongoing training and development. Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do, and we will ensure our DE&I policy continues to underpin our growth in the coming years.

TI: With a turbulent economy, how are you weathering the storm?

GW: There will always be opportunities to recruit, you must watch the market. Now, it’s an unusual market, with economic instability, Brexit and political chaos. Fortunately, the pandemic didn’t change much for us as we kept our core clients and big contracts. Moving forward, we want to make our business robust and we’re looking to move into international markets, recruiting clinicians to the UK from abroad and vice versa.

TI: Ged, you’ve been in recruitment for 20 years, this must be a huge advantage?

GW: I decided to move away from a larger company and build a more robust, agile business around quality of service, which has fundamentally made a difference. It’s good to know your industry inside and out. I’ve worked in retail, legal and the health and social care sector it’s about understanding people and getting a real feel for the business.

TI: How would you describe the current state of the recruitment industry?

GW: At the moment, the candidate is king and new job adverts remain at an all-time high. For the first time since 1974, there are more vacancies than candidates. It’s a candidate-driven market, but this might change in a turbulent economy, with a looming recession and redundancies on the horizon. Permanent vacancies are still robust, and candidates can push for pay, flexible working hours, bonuses and incentives. They are asking the employer, ‘What have you got for me?’ as much as employers are looking at what the employee can offer them.

TI: What makes a successful recruitment company?

 GW: Firstly, understand your clients’ needs, what they do, their culture, values and long-term goals and from there find a good fit. Our business is wrapped up in four main clients and we want to grow that. What we must do this year is to become more robust by diversifying into these existing sectors and moving into new ones. It’s a challenge, but it must be done. If you are delivering for your clients, they want to give you more business. It’s about educating our clients to find the right candidates. The key to delivering to clients is ensuring you’re adding value to the operational side of the business in terms of trading, training and engagement.

TI: Everpool was founded in Liverpool; how proud are you of your Liverpudlian heritage?

GW: After demerging, we needed a new name that reflected Liverpool. We came up with ‘Everpool’ because we’ve an ‘infinite pool’ of candidates and you can see this in our logo. It’s also a play on words with ‘Ever’ from Everton and ‘Pool’ from Liverpool. I am a proud Evertonian and I can tell you it’s the first time Everton will have been in front of Liverpool for a long time!

‘If you don’t look after your people, you lose them. I believe in empowering rather than telling, we focus on coaching and take pride when others succeed. We want to continue to be a harmonious office…’

TI: A solid company culture and employer brand, as well as employee wellness was in sharp focus in 2022. Going into 2023, how can you ensure you have a happy and successful team?

GW: Our mission statement is: ‘Empowering people to achieve through togetherness and community spirit by winning hearts and minds to serve our clients.’ It’s about people enjoying coming to work. We want our staff to grow with help and support, ensuring we are flexible. We have lots of working mums and dads and we value them. If they’re experienced workers, we encourage them to work their hours whenever they want, from home or the office. This gives them time to take their child to nursery or go to the gym and then come to work. We’re also investing in our people, and we’ve put all our consultants on a Business Development Fundamentals course, using an external training company. I feel lucky to have my team and find that having trust promotes confidence and the rest flows really.

TI: How would you describe Everpool’s work culture?

GW: Agile, innovative and meritocracy – in our company, there’s no reason why someone at a junior level can’t rise to being an account manager. Our external HR consultants carried out an Employee Wellbeing Survey in October 2022 and 13 out of 15 questions scored ‘highly motivated and engaged’. The most used words to describe Everpool’s work culture were, ‘supported’, ‘teamwork’ and ‘friendly’. Our independent HR consultancy firm said Everpool was the most open business they had ever come across. As a recruitment agency, we must practise what we preach. In the survey, we asked our team what they wanted, and we listened. We reduced their working hours from 42 to 37.5 hours per week and gave them a pay rise – this went down very well!

TI: You say Everpool works because it’s a meritocracy. How does this work in practice?

GW: We try to get the balance right; the environment isn’t rigid. Some of our team members come from call centre backgrounds, where they are tied to their desks and monitored every minute. We believe in freedom of choice. For me, we work on having the right culture and behaviours and this results in success. We constantly talk about ‘good news’ and if one of us wins, we all win. We never argue about fees, we split them accordingly; everyone is happy to split fees. If you are the account manager and someone in your team fills a vacancy, they get 75% and you get 25%. Anyone can bring an account on at any level. You can go from being a trainee to account manager to a team manager. If you’ve delivered, you can self-promote.

TI: Staff retention is key in the current market. What do you do to ensure your staff stay?

GW: If you don’t look after your people, you lose them. I believe in empowering rather than telling; we focus on coaching and take pride when others succeed. We want to continue to be a harmonious office and to be agile and creative, developing our own talent with good internal mobility. We will also continue to develop our equality, diversity and inclusion policies and embrace diversity by supporting colleagues who are neuro-diverse or have a

disability. Every fortnight, we hold one-to-one meetings with line managers, so there shouldn’t be any big surprises. This year, we are launching our ‘make a difference’ campaign where staff can email any ideas of how they think they, or something positive, can make a difference to the company.

TI: What place does tech have in your industry?

Our industry will always be led by people first, and I don’t think this will ever change. In a restaurant, would you rather be served by a robot or a waiter? You just can’t beat the human touch, especially in our industry. People are the essence of what we do.

 Ged’s Top Tips

  • Provide a premium, bespoke service
  • Listen and support clients, candidates and our people
  • Allow flexi-working to support working parents
  • Adapt to different markets
  • Be agile and creative
  • Expand internationally
  • Offer staff upskilling training courses
  • Continue with core values of honesty and integrity
  • Be inclusive and accountable
  • The business’s KPI is ‘Keep people interested, keep people informed, keep people involved