The Giraffe Blog

Benefits and incentives: why you shouldn’t overlook their importance

Posted Friday 11th October 2019 under UK Labour Market

In our 2019 Salary & Benefits Survey, we discovered that for many training professionals, being happy with their employer relies on more than just salary. A range of factors can influence staff to either remain with their employer or jump ship; this includes management, quality of provision and, increasingly, the salary and benefits package on offer, along with flexibility within the role to ensure a good work/life balance.

Employers are now finding that they have to be increasingly creative with the benefits they offer to both retain and attract new employees - ‘94% of millennials and 92% of Gen X say that non-traditional benefits make an employer more attractive’ according to Raconteur. Comprehensive benefits packages are no longer exclusive to large employers – we have seen an increase in the number of SMEs offering a wider selection of benefits. Sometimes as an alternative to increasing annual holiday allowance, other incentives can be equally as appealing. Below are some examples of the more creative benefits we’ve seen offered by employers recently:

  • A day off for your birthday
  • A week’s holiday after getting married
  • Government Cycle to Work scheme (
  • Gym membership or in-house fitness/yoga/meditation classes
  • Health/dental/life insurance
  • Employee assistance programmes
  • Time off in exchange for charitable work/fundraising or a regular charitable donation scheme
  • Reimbursing professional fees i.e. for memberships
  • Flexible holiday scheme e.g. buying additional holiday days
  • Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) to pensions
  • Income Protection scheme
  • Benefits plans which offer discounted cinema tickets, restaurant vouchers etc.
  • Company events, including those for employees’ families

Something else to consider if your company regularly has to pay for expenses is a fuel card system, as it can be a quicker and easier system than reimbursing mileage at the end of each month.

Obviously there is a cost involved in increasing your company benefits package, particularly for small to medium-sized training providers who have to deal with a lot of other budget adjustments due to the changes in legislation alongside funding band reductions. However, a good option to consider would be to offer an optional benefits package, which gives the employee some control over what incentives would benefit them personally, and prevents the employer from having to pay for a broad array of benefit schemes which may not all be utilised.

Alternative working hours – a different kind of benefit?

Of the candidates we surveyed, 32% are employed part-time. This number doesn’t look set to decrease as here at GPRS Recruitment we have candidates contacting us on an almost daily basis to enquire about part-time roles. This is particularly true of those who have an additional freelance or self-employed role alongside their main employment.

Flexitime is also an attractive option for the increasing number of candidates who want to prioritise their work/life balance, and may make the difference to which employers the most talented candidates are drawn to. ‘84% of Millennials revealed that they want more work-life balance in a recent study by FlexJobs’ (, suggesting that flexibility with working hours is becoming increasingly popular with the next generation of employees. Particularly as we’re seeing qualifications in certain areas becoming more popular, training staff with the flexibility to work non-standard shifts will prove beneficial to the employer as well as the individual.

But don’t overlook the salary

Of course, benefits packages are only attractive if paired with an adequate salary. Happily our survey showed that this year salaries in the sector generally increased nationwide, with a quarter of survey respondents receiving a pay rise in the past 12 months.

We see the importance of offering a salary in line with industry expectations on a regular basis – employers who offer salaries lower than those offered by other employers in the same region struggle to attract the same calibre of candidates, and end up using more time and resources training up candidates who haven’t got the same level of experience, or having to replace candidates who aren’t up to the task.

As discussed in our previous blog posts, attracting and retaining the right candidates is becoming increasingly important in the current candidate-driven market. Salary is a key factor, but benefits packages, training and development opportunities and flexible hours all contribute to a candidate’s decision to join a training provider, and all should be kept in mind when recruiting.

Blog Author - Rachel Harrison

How to grow your own talent

Posted Friday 20th September 2019 under UK Labour Market

Do you want to employ the best Trainers & Tutors? Then why not grow your own?

Growing your own talent is a bit like creating your own garden – it takes planning, preparation, choosing the right raw materials carefully, a bit of well-applied effort and continual assessment of progress, but in the end, you will have something of which you can be truly proud: nurtured potential. And of course in business terms, you will have home-grown talent that will drive better business performance. If you plant well, you can produce a fertile and flourishing talent garden!

As specialist work-based learning and training recruiters we’ve been very busy due to the continued growth of the work-based learning sector. Our clients are seizing the opportunities provided to them with both hands, by the creation of that thing loved by some and loathed by others - the Apprenticeship Levy. New contracts mean our clients need to recruit additional Trainers and Assessors to support the new learners.

This has caused what is affectionately called, “The War for Talent”. Training Providers and Colleges are all vying for the same pool of candidates that is diminishing as each candidate is snapped up for yet another newly created position.

A new approach

Everyone requires Trainers with occupational competence, everyone wants someone with training experience and qualifications, and everyone needs someone with Functional Skills Level 2 qualifications. Well not everyone… there are some that are very successfully “growing their own”.

At GPRS we have been growing our own Recruiters for many years and we have used those principles to help our clients to recruit the right raw materials so they can too “grow their own” talent and inevitably have a richer pool of “home-grown” potential to draw from.

We are working closely with some clients who are recruiting candidates with the occupational competence within the skill-set a would-be Trainer will need, backed up perhaps by a formal apprenticeship and industry-specific qualifications. The right “raw materials” you might call it. However, there are many other qualities a person needs to become a successful and effective Trainer other than these “raw materials” and a desire to become one.

Once we have established occupational competence, we look for people that have a background working with young people. Maybe they have managed or coached a youth football team or helped at a youth club. Maybe they are quite simply a parent of teenage children. Either way, this is a strong indicator to us that they are comfortable engaging with young people.

Communication is key

A good Trainer has to get messages or learning points across and to this end, they require clear, concise communication skills. For every candidate, we conduct a telephone interview, which takes on average 30 – 45 minutes. Research shows that it takes at least 20 minutes for a person’s defenses to drop so that you can actually get to speak to the “real” person not just their interview facade.

Our team of professionally trained interviewers listen to how the candidate communicates over the phone. To assess this, we ask lots of competency-based questions to really get them talking. The way a person answers can tell you a lot about them and their thought process: Do they answer directly? Do they beat about the bush and then give you no real answer at all?

If asked how they did something, do they tell you in a haphazard fashion, or do they list action points in a systematic way?

Some experience of training delivery is always useful, so we ask about any training they have delivered in the workplace, either formally or informally. Perhaps when someone joins the company it is their responsibility to show the new person how to do something. Were they involved with induction? Did they mentor anyone? It is interesting how many of the candidates we speak to have been highly regarded for their accumulated knowledge and expertise within the organisations for whom they have worked, and have been asked to pass that on.

The other side of training

An aspect of becoming a Trainer which aspiring Trainers often aren’t aware of is the amount of administration that is required to track the progress of a learner and to gather evidence. Some prospective Trainers have a responsibility for administration as part of their current role. Others do not and we often find with some candidates (particularly semi and skilled people) that the only form of written work (regardless of whether it be electronic or handwritten) that they have undertaken during their working lives was when they studied for their apprenticeship, which could have been 20+ years ago, or completing weekly timesheets.

If you ask a candidate who is trying to secure a role within training, “would you be happy to complete all the necessary administration to track a learner’s progress?” they are likely to say yes because they want the job. Therefore, we use another tactic and enquire about the administration they have to do as part of their current and recent job roles. We want to know how long it takes and whether it is done electronically or handwritten? We also ask how they feel about doing it. These questions allow us to assess if they are familiar with putting pen to paper or fingers to keypad.

As many of our clients are now using ePortfolio it is really important that candidates are computer literate. Most people have PCs at home and can surf the internet for holidays and bash out a quick email, but not everyone has previously written reports, regardless of whether they are long or short.

Whilst they can talk quite happily over the phone, ask them to put something together in writing and they don’t know where to start.

Training Providers and Colleges that are willing to invest in the training and extra support that it takes to grow and nurture a new Trainer will inevitably need the individual to study for training and or assessing qualifications.

This has proved to be a major stumbling block when we have spoken to clients. They have frequently found that it had been so long since the prospective Trainer had done any form of academic study, that they lacked confidence and kept avoiding commencing the training. When questioned, it was quite simple: the last study they had undertaken was when they did their apprenticeship and they were genuinely worried that they wouldn’t pass any exams, and therefore make themselves look foolish in front of their employers and peers.

To counteract this, we ask questions about recent training courses the candidate may have taken or continual professional development their employer put them through. What form did it come in? How many days did it take? Did they sit a test at the end, or was their learning checked as they went along? Did they have to take any notes?

Candidates whose employers have invested in them with ongoing training are generally more confident about studying for a qualification than those who haven’t been given the opportunity to develop and update their skills through a variety of learning experiences.

Growing your own - it all sounds quite simple really doesn’t it? Except that these budding Trainers rarely apply for training jobs. You can’t search the job boards for “would-be Trainers”. And apart from their occupational competence, none of the raw materials we seek can be seen on paper i.e. their CVs, so the only way to decide if the candidate has the right qualities to become a Trainer, is to speak with them in-depth and that all takes time.

So if you would like to “Grow your Own Talent,” and you're wondering where to start, please contact GPRS on 01785 430500 or request a call back by emailing

Blog Author - Helen Wilson

Do you offer on-going training and development?: Benefits to the employer and individual

Posted Thursday 12th September 2019 under WBL Sector Info

Following on from the launch of our Salary & Benefits Survey last week, we are expanding on some of the key issues raised in a series of weekly blogs.

Firstly, a significant factor which can influence a candidate’s decision whether or not to stay with their current employer is the training and development opportunities offered. In the current candidate-driven market, the professional development opportunities that are on offer could be the make or break between accepting a role or deciding to stay put.

There are an array of benefits to offering training and development:

  • Ofsted looks for evidence of training opportunities on their inspections, so it's beneficial for the employer and its reputation as well as the individual.
  • With the nature of the industry meaning that a lot of trainers and assessors work remotely, training sessions can help to unify a workforce and ensure that everyone is working towards the same aims and objectives.
  • Personal development is key for an increasing number of candidates – as flexible working options and a healthy work-life balance become increasingly important, candidates are thinking about the benefits offered to them beyond the immediate job role.
  • Continuous training and development can help ensure that a workforce is kept up to date with company procedures and aims so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

In order to implement an efficient training programme, a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) should be undertaken, looking at three tiers:

  • Corporate level – what is the company trying to achieve and what skill gaps exist to prevent it getting there?
  • Departmental level - what is the department trying to achieve and what skill gaps exist to prevent it getting there?
  • Individual level – what does the individual want to achieve? What gaps do they have in their level of skill which could prevent them from reaching their objectives? Where does the individual think they need to improve? Where does the manager feel they need to improve?

The training should be designed and delivered taking the above in mind. Off the peg training is often cheaper but doesn’t always meet the objectives. Training that has been designed specifically from a TNA will be more aligned to help your company meet corporate objectives and offer a feel-good factor to employees as they feel their needs have been catered too.

It’s easy to see why training is overlooked. One of the main reasons it doesn’t have a tangible effect is because it isn’t used back at desk. People return from a training session and put the training material back in a desk never to see the light of day again. This means that behaviours don’t change and skills may not improve.
Making sure that training programmes are tailored will ensure that any training delivered is utilised and therefore an investment, not a cost – leading to a more content workforce.

Blog Author - Helen Wilson

The digitalisation of the recruitment process

Posted Wednesday 14th August 2019 under UK Labour Market

As employers are increasingly looking to save time, money and resources, they are turning to more technological means of interviewing candidates. Here at GPRS Recruitment, we are finding that more and more first interviews are being conducted by telephone or Skype.

Video interviews are becoming increasingly popular, as they give employers the chance to assess a candidate's communication skills and way of presenting themselves without the resources needed for a face to face interview.

Online/telephone interviews also offer benefits to the candidate: rather than spending time and money travelling (often requiring more time to be booked off work), they can have the interview from the comfort of their own home, meaning it can be slotted into their weekly schedule far more easily.

On occasion, a job offer can even be made without the employer ever meeting the candidate in person, such is the drive to make everything as efficient and fast as possible, even recruitment.

There has also been a lot of discussion in the recruitment world recently about initial interview/screening processes becoming automated. Some companies already use a system which involves a question flashing up on the screen then the candidate’s answer being recorded, and the process will only get more computerised, with chatbots potentially replacing the interviewer in the near future.

As the video format is becoming increasingly popular in all areas of recruitment, this is a trend that will only continue to gather pace. There are concerns over the digitalisation of the interview process – it can be alienating to the job-seeker who may be out of touch with modern technology, and it can be argued that it can be hard to truly judge whether someone is the right fit for your company without meeting them in person.

Here at GPRS, we understand that Skype interviews and the like can be daunting, so we offer the opportunity for a test call to make sure that any technology-based worries are dealt with before the big day (see link below).

Candidates also tell us they like to visit the premises of the company. They like to see what the company looks like when they approach, how easy it is to find parking, how easy it is to get there because they are likely to have to visit for standardisation meetings etc. The other thing you can’t determine over the phone or the internet is what the rest of the team is like and candidates like to see what sort of people their potential colleagues are.

As telephone and online interviews become more and more common, it will be interesting to monitor the digitalisation of the recruitment process – check back here for more developments.

Blog Author - Rachel Harrison Skype for Beginners guide

Looking for a speedy hire? Here’s how to help us help you

Posted Wednesday 17th July 2019 under UK Labour Market

Although the tale goes that the tortoise beats the hare, in recruitment this is not the case. In the current candidate-driven market, speed is of the essence for employers to make sure that they don’t miss out on the best candidates.

In the last few weeks, we have seen employers offer a telephone interview, followed by one stage interview with the offer made at interview or the following day. This is to ensure that hard to find skill sets are retained for a waiting caseload. We have also seen companies take weeks to deliberate over CVs and interviews to lose candidates to a competitor!

In particular, employers need to make sure that they are responding promptly to applications/CVs. When recruiters send CVs for a vacancy, they shouldn’t still be chasing feedback weeks later – they should be receiving feedback within a couple of days so the process keeps moving and doesn’t stagnate. A recruiter will have told the candidate about the company and the opportunity and the candidate is keen to apply. The longer the candidate waits for something to happen, the more their level of interest wanes.

This is just as important for the employer as for the recruiter and candidate. If an employer neglects to provide prompt feedback, it presents them in a bad light to the candidate and their network, and will more often than not deter the recruiter from working with them again. Research has shown that candidates now view the recruitment process as an indication of what a company is like to work for. If you applied for a role and had a request for an interview within 24 hours, which was to be held within a week and after the interview, feedback was within 24 hours and if an offer was made it was supported by a formal offer letter within another 24 hours, you’d think that the company was well organised and efficient.

This also applies later in the process when a candidate has had an interview. As there are so many jobs available at the moment, it is more than likely that candidates will be juggling multiple job applications at the same time – GPRS recently spoke to a candidate who had over five interviews in one week. Interview feedback therefore needs to be timely, especially if an employer wants to make an offer – it may be that there is another company also wanting that candidate working for them.

The quicker the turnaround, the more satisfactory the process for everyone involved. If both the employer and recruiter keep things moving at a fast pace, the employer has their role filled quicker (meaning no more time has to be spent on the recruitment process) and the candidate lands a new job quicker. For a candidate who has been made redundant, this is even more important.

A delayed response from clients is something that we as a recruitment agency have really picked up on recently, so we know from first-hand experience that this can hinder the process; this is definitely something for employers to bear in mind the next time they start recruiting for a role.

So, if you would like to secure the best available candidates, the early bird gets the worm as the saying goes.

Blog Author - Helen Wilson
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