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Christchurch Recruiters Proving Agencies Can Actually Collaborate

By December 10, 2015One Comment

Today is the Rice Consulting Christmas party and we have an early start out in Woodhill Forest. Seeing as our South Island Business Manager Mary Batchelar is up visiting Auckland for the occasion I thought she should take over the Whiteboard marker pen this week and share a post of her own with more of a Christchurch flavour.  So, with no further ado, I give you “The Batch”…


Anyone that’s had anything to do with the recruitment industry knows that competing agencies are famously bad at collaborating and working together.  We are, however, brilliantly and fiercely competitive with some notoriety for stabbing each other in the back at any given opportunity. This was exemplified in technicolour back in 2012 when NZ’s recruitment agencies staged a race to the bottom in the reverse auction process tendering for the All Of Government contract.

To be fair, back then a group of Wellington firms did try and get together to agree on a strategy for the auction process and protect each other’s best interests.  But it proved a step too far, with the ensuing free for all price-cutting further demonstrating that, to date, we were indeed all out for ourselves.

Is this about to change?

We had a great time at the recent Seek SARA awards, despite losing out on the ‘most innovative agency’ award to the Canterbury Labour Hire Safety Forum.  However, coming in second place suitably piqued our interest in what they’re all about.   So earlier this week I set out to find out more about them, meeting with the Recruitment Leaders from One Staff, Tradestaff, Randstad and Enterprise Recruitment.

The Canterbury Labour Hire Safety Forum is a unique joint industry initiative that came about following the Christchurch Earthquakes to work collaboratively to address the topic of worker safety.

With a shared philosophy that they would be stronger if they worked together, the Forum is a totally inclusive collective of agencies looking to promote and drive best practice and leave a positive legacy as an industry. Their work to date has fundamentally changed the relationship with WorkSafe and ACC and positively raised the profile of our industry as a whole. The forum has held numerous agency events to generate dialogue within the industry and tackle issues and runs events held for the labour and contingent workforce to educate workers about workplace safety.

A true sign of the collaborative approach being employed was demonstrated in a recent incident that saw an agency report bad practices of another agency to ACC for unsafe worker behaviour.  Rather than descending into messy arbitration, The Forum worked with the agency to address and fix the issues.

Whenever there’s a bad news story in recruitment everyone is quick to talk about regulating our industry, so it’s good to finally hear a good news story!!  Whilst this isn’t exactly official “regulation” as such, it’s a step in the right direction, and it certainly feels like we have grown up a little bit to enable this kind of collaboration.  Whether you’re for or against regulation of our industry, it’s good to see collaboration and a unified approach to the issue of worker safety.

One wonders if this new mindset might make its way from Christchurch’s labour hire providers to Wellington’s Government recruiters when the AOG contract comes up for inevitable renewal.  We shall have to wait and see.


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.

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