28 March 2011

Expertise, Capability, Good Corporate Citizen, New Markets and Profit: The Hays juggernaut rolls on

On 28 October, 2009 in InSight #105, the lead article was The Best Run Recruitment Companies in Australia (part 1): Hays which listed the reasons I believed Hays was so highly regarded by other recruitment industry owners and CEOs.

Although no comments were posted to my blog about this article, I received a few emails that suggested I was being naïve or irresponsible in highlighting or endorsing a company whose practices were often not ones that made them proud to be part of the recruitment industry.

The article wasn't written as an endorsement. The article was purely my opinion as to why the recruitment industry peers of Hays APAC CEO, Nigel Heap, held him, and his executive management team, in high esteem.

I followed on from my article with a webinar in July 2010; What Can Hays Teach Us? An analysis of the 2010-2015 strategy of world's most profitable recruitment company in which I highlighted and analysed what I judged to be the most important slides from a 142 slide presentation made by the Hays Global Executive team to stock market analysts in London on 29 April 2010.

Things have gone up a gear at Hays in the (almost) four years since founder and long-time CEO, Denis Waxman retired and in his place the Hays plc (UK) board, somewhat surprisingly, given the Hays long record of promoting internally, appointed an outsider, Alistair Cox, to the Global CEO position.

Cox made very plain his ambitions for the Hays brand, announcing in December 2009 in recuiter.co.uk;  ‘Our mission is to build the undisputed leader in the world of professional and qualified and technical recruitment.' 

Hays have invested heavily in a huge re-branding exercise, using Interbrand who came up with the concept of ‘Powering the World of Work', the tagline, Recruiting Experts Worldwide and the new Hays logo. Slick videos supporting the re-branding  have been rolled out consistently since then (15 currently available on the Hays You Tube Channel), including;

So what's happened in close to a year and a half since the Hays re-brand in late 2009?

Plenty.

Firstly there's a lot to admire about the way Hays has relentlessly created or sought any opportunity to build or reinforce its brand position by highlighting its expertise (through research, market commentary and service offerings), its capability (through client wins, awards and industry/peer acknowledgment) and its role as ‘good corporate citizen' (through staff involvement in good causes, donations, sponsorship and service standards).

Here are just a handful of recent examples (both Aus and UK examples):

Expertise

Capability

Good Corporate Citizen

Secondly, the launch into substantial new markets in India (April 2009) and Russia (May 2009) appears to have been very successful with the aggressive push into China generating such promising results, that four months ago, Global CEO, Cox announced that Hays was intending to ‘... open new offices in up to eight Chinese cities and quadruple its headcount to more than 300 consultants by 2015.

Thirdly, and most crucially, Hays have returned to pre-GFC levels of profit and sales growth. Earlier this month, Hays released their trading result for the six months to December 2010.

The outcome for Hays (Aus & NZ) was a net fee (perm fees plus net temp margin) income of $138 million, which was a 35% improvement on the same period the year before.

Globally for the July 2010 to December 2010 half year, Hays reported a sales increase of 38%, with gross profit up 20%, operating profit up 38% and net profit up an even more impressive 69%.

So what's ahead for Hays?

I don't know, but it's sure going to be interesting finding out.

Disclosure: I was employed by Hays (UK) between January 1989 and September 1990.

3 comments:

  1. The great Hays paradox is that they are almost universally reviled by the recruitment community but most recruitment companies would jump at the chance to hire their consultants into their own teams.

    Hays as a whole are agressive, intransigent, arrogant and ambitious - traits found in many of their consultants which makes them bloody good recruiters - once they have learned to sprinkle their Hays personality with a little more professionalism and integrity, of course.

    My own disclosure - I worked at Hays Australia and NZ from June 2005 to August 2007 - and mostly loved every minute of it!

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  2. Oliver Garside29/3/11 4:46 PM

    I worked for Hays for 5 years (Australia) and have never enjoyed working for anyone more. Their methods and culture do not suit everyone but if it suits you you can learn all of the processes and disciplines needed to succeed (assuming you already have the drive and ambition)

    I do not believe that Hays or Hays consultants are reviled throughout the recruitment industry - more envied.
    Standards are set exceptionally high both in terms of performance and behaviours and values are lived and demonstrated by all of the management and most successful consultants. Training is 2nd to none.

    As an organisation Hays also invests heavily in real incentives and really truly and actively promotes work life balance.

    Their brand and supporting systems are second to none. and I for one am not surprised to see their continuing success.

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  3. Voice Of Reason30/3/11 10:24 AM

    Hays-bashing is like Microsoft-bashing, a pointless exercise in humiliating oneself publicly for the arrogant pursuit of deluded self-importance, thinly veiled by the oft-false premise that one has never erred in judgement.

    Supercilious comments about a commercially-speaking, incredibly successful business and the inference on those who are mostly just beginning to learn their craft are best muttered under one's breath and with the voice of reason over one's shoulder sagely noting that someone has to train the consultants of the future and we should be collectively grateful that the juggernaut does it with such a robust commercial focus.

    And for any one of us who truly believes they are delivering a "Rolls Royce" service to your clients, take a look at last Monday's ABC Four Corners.

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