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As many of you know, Crystal Clean was my first business and for the main part, I only play an Exec role in the business these days, leaving the team to manage the day-to-day business and only getting involved on a strategic level when improvements or changes are needed.  However, in August I really had to roll up my sleeves and get involved. 

The thing that I hear most often from business owners at the moment is that staffing is one of their biggest problems, with many businesses having to reduce their offering and availability due to staff shortages on an unprecedented scale. When you look at the rises in minimum Wage, Brexit, Covid and now inflation it has all come together to create the perfect storm when it comes to finding staff.  Simply put it seems that there are no longer enough eligible candidates for the roles that need filling.  Within my consultancy, I am able to rely on several independent experts to support my services, so the current staffing crisis has had very little effect on iekos, however for Crystal Clean it has been a very different story.

For the past 18 months recruitment has been a struggle. The roles we had were not attracting candidates, and it was putting a strain on the current work force who had been doing an amazing job in taking on extra tasks to keep the business running. The problem is that this is not sustainable over the long term and the cracks of the pressure were starting to show.  It all came to head when several cumulative holidays and staff illnesses put unmanageable pressure on the remaining team.  On a routine assessment, I discovered that we had 21 unfilled vacancies at varying levels throughout the business and some of these had been ongoing for months. The team had been covering in the hope the recruitment crisis would ease but to the contrary the situation only got worse over time.

I started by looking at the roles and the jobs that needed attention. Then I had to complete a full review and renew the recruitment process. We had become too heavily reliant on one platform but with the majority of employers in the same boat we were all going after the same small number of candidates.  Things had changed and so must we.  We changed our approach and started to work through other platforms, we added some paid adverts, reached out to our existing network for support and worked with the local job centres. We then changed our internal processes and structure and after a few weeks and a few more tweaks the strategy worked. 

By week 4 we had filled all but one of the 21 vacant roles and were in a position to continue to grow the business, the existing team were instantly relieved of the pressure they were under and the new team members were greeted with smiles from their customers. I can honestly say that those few weeks aged me as it was very intense!!!  But I am so very glad that I can still play this role within Crystal Clean, being able to completely turn around a situation like this is what I love most about being a consultant.