Nathan Kerr of Wymark Insurance Brokers shares his tips on how to protect yourself and your business during the advertising and recruitment process. 

Recruitment of both field technicians and admin staff can be a timely and costly exercise. It’s a process that should be given considerable time and effort to ensure your business attracts the very best candidates for the job on offer.

All too often the recruitment process is done on a reactive basis, i.e. the employer has a technician who leaves with little or no notice, leaving the business in a vulnerable position of a mounting workload, both in the field and in the office, and being short staffed. This often leads to a quick and unstructured recruitment campaign – most times ending up with a less than desirable outcome.

Finding the time to advertise for a new technician when you’re already juggling an increased workload is a significant challenge. A much-preferred approach is to develop a recruitment campaign when you don’t need it, and then ‘shelve it’ for a rainy day. When you are then faced with a technician leaving unannounced at a later date, you’re armed with a job description and advertisement ready to put into the market.

Also, be sure to allocate sufficient resources and time to find a candidate that fits the qualities, culture and philosophy of your business. If your business is known for being ‘green’ and environmentally aware, then try and attract a technician who has the same values and outlook. Or perhaps you are known for your intricate knowledge of bugs and insects. If so, a candidate with qualifications or a special interest in this area may fit in well.

From an insurance perspective, there are a number of things we always recommend be considered during the advertising and recruitment process to ensure full transparency and communication during this time. A key factor that influences the nature of the recruitment and contract is the employee status – will the employment be on a sub-contract basis, or will they be a permanent full-time, part time or casual employee?

Before offering employment, in addition to checking qualifications, experience, licensing and past work history, references should be sort. This should include discussing the employee with referees – it provides a crucial insight into a prospective employee’s past work history. Ideally you should be offered more than one workplace referee and you should ask questions about attendance levels, punctuality to jobs, presentation, communication with customers, etc.

There are some additional checks that should be done to understand whether you may be taking on some ‘hidden’ risks:

  • Check past driving history, criminal convictions and fines, as this will impact on insurability for both car insurance and public liability insurance
  • Check past liability and professional indemnity insurance claims, as this may also have an impact on insurability
  • When an offer of employment is made, it is important to ensure a properly drafted employment agreement or contract is agreed to and signed.

Ensure there are clear guidelines in the contract regarding the ownership of clients. Too often we have seen employed technicians pinching their employers’ customers after hours, for a cheaper and/or ‘cash’ price. The ramifications of this should also be clearly spelled out in the agreement.

Full details of remuneration need to be considered, agreed upon and included in the agreement – hourly rate, per job basis, commission, travel, overtime, etc, are all elements that may need to be included.

In the pest industry, it is also important to consider what happens in the event of a claim. What process is undertaken? Is the employee or sub-contractor responsible for payment (or part payment) of the insurance excess? What happens if you can no longer obtain insurance for the technician?

There are consultants in the industry to assist with both the recruiting and employment processes. They add enormous value and assistance at what can otherwise be a stressful time in business.

Nathan Kerr, Account Manager, Wymark Insurance Brokers