By Richard Lawrence-Allen
As you’ve no doubt seen us mention countless times across all of our blog posts, it is RSVP’s fabulous staff that make us the success that we are today. However, these fantastic people don’t appear out of thin air. This week we’re taking a look at where our staff members come from and why they stick around.
RSVP was founded specially offering flexible work to performers, whether they were actors, singers, dancers or musicians, and this is still how we operate to this very day. As RSVP recruits solely from these pools of creative professionals, it means that our hiring process is slightly different to your everyday contact centre. While other contact centres may make use of recruitment agencies and standard job listing forums, RSVP’s niche background sees us relying on a few alternative methods of recruitment that better suit our own unique place in the industry.
After graduating from Drama School or other vocational training programmes, it can be a daunting experience being let loose into the big wide world, especially when going into such a fiercely competitive industry like the performing arts. RSVP to the rescue! Over the years, RSVP has developed a great relationship with some of the UK’s best known and most respected Drama Schools. When drama students and recent graduates ask about finding work to support their careers while performing jobs are thin on the ground, RSVP is one of the first things that will come up in conversation. However, it is not just Drama Schools that have been sending performers our way over the years. RSVP is a well-known face, not just amongst other contact centres, but also across the performing industries as well. In fact, the majority of applications that we receive are from word-of-mouth recommendations from talent agents and representation, tutors, friends and colleagues that have worked with us previously and even some that just know us by reputation alone.
Of course, while word-of-mouth does get us a long way in our recruitment goals, we do not rest on our laurels and we of course do advertise as well. While standard publications and job listings don’t tend to serve our needs very well, as they reach a far greater number of non-performers than performers, utilising publications aimed directly at creative people has been very valuable in the past when looking for staff. This is because we have identified exactly the type of applicants we wanted to reach with great specificity and channel sources that appeal solely to them. This is vital in ensuring a high percentage of suitable applications. While back during RSVP’s early days these publications were in print media, typically now we use online media as a preference instead.
Moreover, several casting websites, such as Spotlight, Mandy Actors and Star Now list performing jobs for which professional creatives can submit themselves, but also have a useful section offering suggestions for ‘resting jobs’ to apply for between performing work, the perfect place for RSVP to include a little information about ourselves to potential job seekers.
As the world progresses though, so have our recruitment techniques, and more and more we have started to rely on our social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram, as well as performer targeted group pages on Facebook, to allow potentially interested applicants to engage with us. These platforms allow performers to get a good sense of our business personality and ask any questions they may have about us and express their interest in current vacancies but in an informal and more personable environment than traditional job listing boards. Recent recruitment drives have shown how invaluable social media tools have now become for businesses across all industries, and we have found them particularly useful in streamlining our recruitment processes.
Once we have our staff of course, then we go on to the matter of making sure we keep them! Contact centres have one of the lowest staff retention rates across all areas of industry and this adds costs due to the need for extra recruitment and training resources for new staff replacing those that have left. With this in mind, RSVP, like any other business, seeks to keep our retention rates as high as possible, though not in ways that you might typically expect. We of course do everything we can to make our office environment as pleasant a place to be as possible, we run sales incentives, fortnightly fun events and fundraisers and all of the usual suspects. However, ironically it is actually our efforts to help staff leave the company that help us most in avoiding those retention rate blues.
Typically, the average RSVP staff member has spent 3 years in vocational training plus countless extra hours spent honing their craft post-graduation. We are under no illusions here and know very well that our staff did not put all this time, effort and passion to spend their entire adult life spent in a contact centre, not matter how lovely it may be. So, what do we do with this knowledge? We do our very best to support their chosen careers and help them to pursue opportunities away from the business in every way we can. Providing this support for career progression gives us a closer relationship with our staff as we come to understand their long-term goals. Performing jobs are fixed-term, freelance contracts and so establishing this relationship with our staff incentivises them to come back to a place that they know once their freelance work has a break. This allows RSVP to have a shifting staff base of the same familiar faces right up until their performing career reaches the height in which they no longer need supplementary work at all, or they decide to take their career in a different direction. This reduces our overall need to recruit and train new staff and so reduces the costs associated with them.
We help our staff with their performing careers in many ways. With our years of experience working alongside the performing industries, we have secured discounts for our staff in professional costs for things such as photography and recording sessions, etc. We also make use of our office meeting rooms outside of office hours as free rehearsal spaces to work on their current passion projects and our flexible rota system allows staff to attend auditions, castings and other business meetings whenever they need to without a fuss. Lastly, we do of course have our very own in-house talent agency, RSVP Artists, which actively looks for performing opportunities for those who want representation with a 0% commission rate.
This symbiotic relationship with our staff not only improves our retention rates, but all of our KPIs and other targeted statistics as well, as staff see us working hard for them, they work hard for us and our clients in return. We love our staff and always want them to do well, both in the office and out and this is why our staff keep coming back. Thank you everyone!