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Shaw & Co x Heat Q&A: Part 3

In the 3rd part of our 3-part series in collaboration with Shaw & Co, Heat’s CEO Steve Preston discusses the biggest change the sector has seen so far, and tips for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in the current climate. Read the 3rd and final instalment below.


The UK Recruitment Sector: Part III

We’re taking an exclusive look at the key issues affecting the UK recruitment industry with two of the sector’s key players Steve Preston, CEO, Heat Recruitment and Tom White, CEO, 5 Values


 What is the biggest specific change you have seen thus far? WFH?

Steve Preston, CEO, Heat Recruitment: “Money will always be a huge driver for candidates and with flexible working policies becoming ever more flexible it is so important for companies to remain innovative in order to stand out from the crowd and attract the best candidates.  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), Wellbeing and a company’s ESG strategy are now more important than ever with candidates wanting to work for businesses with a strong social conscience.

“Companies changing their employee offerings, increased salaries, holidays and WFH policies. Companies seem to have settled on a 2/3 days a week at home and this works well for many. The biggest change for us, over the last few years, has definitely been the option for hybrid working. We have consultants that are fully remote, but we also offer all consultants that are within commutable distance to the office to work from home. This flexibility means staff can really focus on any projects that they have going on, while still being only a click away on a Teams call from a chat with anyone on the team. Plus it saves a small fortune in commuting, parking costs and keeps the businesses carbon footprint down!

“Although in terms of hybrid / remote we are seeing more demand for people to get back into the office and remote working isn’t something to blanket the business with, as it works for some people and not for others. Maintaining company culture is always going to be a tricky task as businesses grow across a bigger geographical patch, especially with work from anywhere policies.”

“We are still seeing hiring decisions taking far too long and clients putting in further meetings to delay the final decisions or to reconfirm their thoughts. This has the danger of missing out on that key individual. Competition and direct applications are still a challenge but not really any worse than previous times.”


Tom White, CEO, 5 Values: “Work from home in sales / recruitment remains a heated debate. Personally, speaking I understand people want choice, a hybrid, as too much of one thing is clearly always going to be bad, but people learn from people and through osmosis. You don’t know what you don’t know, and we can’t help what we can’t see and feel, and I’ve not yet seen an answer to this or to fix this conundrum.

“People expect more, our people expect more and I embrace that. The saying was, you are either learning or earning – or both if you were lucky in a role. But recruitment companies needed to grow up, to invest in their people and their community more and this has been a welcome challenging change for everyone to do better, to do the right thing.”


What tips would you give entrepreneurs to grow their business, especially in the current climate?

Steve Preston, CEO, Heat Recruitment: “Always keep a close eye on the cashflow, build projections but remain flexible and ready to adjust to an ever changing business world. Don’t stand still –  keep aspiring to be better. Embrace technology, prioritise customer service levels and keep adapting.

“Make sure you have a wellbeing plan for yourself, as it is all too easy to be drawn into the business full-time, not taking any time for your own relaxation, down time, and time to de-stress.

“Invest in employee development and training. Recruitment is a people-led business, where employees play a crucial role in the success of the business. Engaged and skilled employees can contribute to improved productivity, success and customer satisfaction.

“Utilise data correctly. The longer your business is running the more big data you have to hand, so utilising this properly will aid decision making. Additionally, ensure data and records are kept up to date, so that you have the right information to hand.

“Learn to let go! All too often entrepreneurs hang on to everything, hiring in good people and then not letting people have the freedom to crack on. We hire good people for a reason and that is to let them do what they do best.

“Finally, I would say leave the ‘fear at the door’, running a business is scary at times and exciting as well, so leaving the fear at the door will allow you to focus and get on with the exciting aspect of running, growing and building a successful business. Do what it takes to get the best people and keep hold of them, it’s the quality of staff that an entrepreneur hires, that dictates their outcomes!”


Tom White, CEO, 5 Values: “Start with the why, what are you doing this for, why is it getting you out of bed in the morning and do you smile ‘on the way to work’? If not, change it.

“Keep your world as small as possible, stay in a niche area – one that you love and understand – and double down your efforts to be an expert in that space. Don’t service the industry, be in the industry.

“Care less about others and keep those close to you motivated and bought into the mission and enjoy the journey, because after all you never know if the destinations going to be all it’s cracked up to be!

“And above all, have fun. Don’t take things too seriously.”


If you’d like to discuss how Shaw & Co can help you sell, buy or fund the growth of a business, please email Oliver