Access All Areas September 2019 - Page 41

SEPTEMBER | SECTOR FOCUS PEOPLE Retention, best practice and incentives are as important as ever, say our panel of experts T he summer has been a mixed bag for many crewing companies, with Brexit fears, sporadic or late event bookings, and staff shortages among the key challenges. Pinnacle Crew director Heath Freeman says it’s not getting any easier to retain staff, but focusing on incentives and paying well is good practice. “It’s been another busy summer, but August dropped off a lot. This was in contrast to earlier in the summer when we were booked solidly. It’s hard to say why this has been the case, but the corporate stuff was lacking a bit and it seems there’s some Brexit uncertainty and some jobs not going ahead. We’ll see what happens in October. “Retention is tricky as Brexit is a concern for lots of Europeans, where the bulk of workers come from. Sure, many are Antipodean, but the bulk is from Europe, and they are unsure if they are coming across, but when they do they try to get as much work in as they can as they are seeing this as short term in nature. “There’s no magic wand for staff retention, you have to think about the whole process from interview stage, and try to get all new recruits to understand the industry and what is expected, and then do a lot of training. So there a lot of touch points at first. Often, of course, this is wasted time and they’ll leave after the first job, but you need thick skin. “We recruit every week, and retention rates are not great – as is the case across the industry. They often study hard and are enthusiastic, but they might have unrealistic expectations to be producer of the show, instead of unloading trucks. “Then there’s a lot of other pressures: they do anti-social hours and have late call ups. It’s a hard job, and for 20 years now we are relying more and more on English talent, and you have to induct them and train well, then really guide them though. And more than ever you must pay these guys well. We pay a lot more than we did even two years ago, and our margins are squeezed.” An example of Pinnacle’s strategies to incentivise and motivate staff include ‘Buddy’ systems for crew to integrate, and getting new recruits to learn from senior staffers. “It works,” says Freeman. “They give these guys much needed insight. You’ll have jobs you hate, but then ones you love. You also need socials and good pay scales to see efforts are being rewarded. “We have a SALSA (Sound, AV, Lighting and Structures Assessment) code for determining an employees’ rating across those metrics. We try and ensure they improve across the board. As they increase across all of these, we increase their pay accordingly. Meanwhile, April Trasler, managing director of Neptunus, handles a team of experienced ‘tent people’ at Neptunus whose knowledge of the temporary structures industry extends 41