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Recruiting in Times of Rugby

By September 8, 2011No Comments

This is it.  Later today the 2011 Rugby World Cup kicks off right here in our own backyard.  We at Rice Consulting will be joining in the celebrations this afternoon, jostling to watch the haka in the Viaduct, oohh-aah-ing at the fireworks later on and eventually watching some actual rugby as the All Blacks take on Tonga down the road at Eden Park.

Much has been made of the economic impact about to be injected into the limp arm of New Zealand’s economy.  Latest analysis predicts $700m of extra spending will be pumped in.  And boy will that be a welcome shot of adrenalin.

But how can we in recruitment take advantage of this?

I was asked earlier this week (by one of those financial types) what we had planned, as a business, to take advantage of this momentary blast of cash.  I was caught a little off guard.  I mean, I suppose there are those recruitment companies providing hospitality staff, security staff, events management staff and suchlike who will see a major increase in demand for their temporary workers, but it’s hard to point at a tangible benefit it will all bring to the commercial and professional services recruitment businesses like ourselves.

At moments like that I like to look on the positive side and point to the intangible benefits it is likely to bring.  For the next month and a half you will have an easy ice-breaker on those cold calls to prospective new clients.  Hosting a major sporting event is proven to elevate the overall mood and morale of the inhabitants of the host country.  This will be multiplied in New Zealand where it isn’t just any old major event, it is the holy grail of the country’s most popular sport, although the downside will be that no-one will want to talk about anything at all, far less about rugby, if the All Blacks fail to progress to eventual victory on October 23rd.

Furthermore, candidates will be interviewing with happier hiring managers, who will have immediate items of discussion to bring to the interview table to settle initial nerves.  The sense of pride at hosting such an event breeds increased levels of confidence, something in short supply in the New Zealand business community over recent years.  Clients of recruitment firms will, for the duration of these games, have the gumption to stick their neck out a little further, make decisions faster, and bring on new talent where previously they may have dallied and stalled.

Forgive the rugby gag, but more of them will be willing to take a punt.

But there are also leading economists out there taking a more pragmatic view on things.  If the tournament’s organisers actually manage to reach their targeted ticket sales of $268m then the event will run at a projected loss of $40m.  Sam Richardson, a Lecturer in Economics at
Massey University, states that:

“Economic impact figures have been used as justification for hosting the tournament despite the anticipated losses.

Past research has suggested that the realised economic impacts of major sporting events are often substantially less than what is initially projected.”

So here is the way I see it:  Not many people are going to get hugely rich from our country’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup.  Some recruitment companies will see a spike in temporary worker numbers.  Perhaps they’ll see an equivalent spike in GP and margins (unless they’ve been screwed down too far to win the business in the first place).  Some recruitment firms might impress some new and/or existing clients with some corporate hospitality at some world class sporting events.  But don’t get too worked up about it.  The event in itself, and the influx of cashed up foreign visitors, will generate a far greater sense of togetherness, pride, confidence and bon homie that will have so many more intangible benefits to the performance of your business that the best plan is to just get in amongst it and enjoy the ride.

Of course, keeping half an eye on the productivity of your team, particularly following weeknight matches, will be a good idea if you really want to take advantage of the uplifted spirits amongst your clients and the wider business community!

As for us at Rice Consulting, we are going to follow our own advice, and get right amongst it.  Anyone seeking to contact us on work related matters after 2pm today may have to forgive us the rowdy noises in the background.  If it sounds like we are in some drinking establishment….we probably are!

Oh and one last thing….

Go the All Blacks!

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.