The Wates Group Case Study
The Wates Group is one of the largest privately-owned construction, development and property services companies in the UK, employing approximately 3,600 people. They provide social housing repairs and maintenance across the country. One of their flagship contracts - maintaining and refurbishing properties on behalf of the Birmingham City Council – sees them looking after over 42,000 homes
The lockdown aftermath
We’ve worked with Wates for 14 years, and already had a solid relationship with them at this point, but had never recruited at this capacity for them. They currently have around 30 different contracts with housing associations and councils across the UK, the largest being Birmingham city council.
During the lockdown the market tipped, and jobs were in demand by candidates, but there were no vacancies. Many tradesmen were sadly made redundant, and due to covid-19 household restrictions, maintenance repairs and visits were ground to a halt. On 8 March 2021, England began a phased exit from lockdown, and shortly after that the market started to shift slowly but surely to the candidate driven market we’re in today.
Suddenly there was a high demand for labour jobs across the UK for hosing associations, across all areas of trades. Home visitations had been banned for such a long period of time, therefore there was a huge backlog of repairs and maintenance that needed to be undertaken across the UK on Wates’s behalf. They needed manpower, and they turned to us to help.
The Right Candidates
Skilled tradesmen were needed across all areas of trades across the UK, from carpenters, to plumbers, through to painters and gas engineers. This variety was required due to the volume of repairs and maintenance required, since most of the residences had gone untouched for over a year. It was very important to Wates that all contractors be extremely skilled and able to fit into the culture of the organisation, as well as be comfortable visiting social housing. Wates needed to find people to help make these homes safe and in a liveable state for their tenants and the community.
Bridging the gap between employer and candidate
Over the space of 12 months, since the lockdown lifted, we were given approximately 85 jobs to fill for Wates for temporary trades contractors. We were up against other agencies, however we’ve been on their PSL since we started operating in 2008, so we were confident we could get the majority of these roles filled. And we were right.
The roles varied across trades, with no specific demand in either more than the other. Once we were handed the various roles from Wates, we launched a widespread adverting campaign using the 7 different job boards we advertise our vacancies on. We also set up a targeted email campaign alongside this to our existing database and targeted 9,000 tradesmen that currently lived within a 50km radius of Birmingham. We sifted through the responders, and picked out those who also had relevant housing experience, qualifications and skill sets.
The interview process
We then had to take this process even further, because of the nature of the work within the community, we had to pick the candidates we knew we could trust, that had the right level of understanding for community housing visits and maintenance. Due to the state of the lockdown at this point, our specialist trades consultant Sean ‘virtually’ met each potential candidate, putting them through a thorough interview, to really get to the core of their personality. After the interview process, we asked successful candidates for a minimum of 2 references from their previous employers, to ensure the validity of their CV and past work history.
Ultimately, we got a great result from this process and we ended up placing 60 candidates on temporary to perm contracts.
Although we were up against other agencies, we filled 80% of Wates’ vacancies on this contract. During the lockdown our team were still working, building relationships with clients and candidates - simply just checking in, making sure they were doing okay. We were that friendly face that people wanted to talk to. We kept in contact with the tradesmen out of work, offered them an ear to listen and already had hundreds lined up, ready to get back into work when the worst was over. This made us quick and reactive to Wates requests, because the relationships were already built, so we got the right people in at the right time.
Wates were fully satisfied with the quality of the candidates. We placed a equivalent of one candidate every week with them and 70% of them worked for an extended contract or progressed through to a permanent role.
‘’The whole process with Sean, from start to finish was so professional and easy. He provided impeccable support through all stages of the project, and nothing was too much trouble. He only ever provided quality candidates, who’s values and personalities aligned with our own. Niyaa people spend the time to get to know your business, and really do recruit with your company culture in mind.’’