Ensuring Employee Engagement And Retention With Gareth Callaway 

March 25, 2020

LBL Callaway | Employee Engagement And Retention


Hiring can be a tedious process experience for organizations everywhere. To not waste too much time and resources, it is ideal to hiring staffing services. Today, Ben Baker introduces us to Gareth Callaway, the President of Gateway Staffing, a recruitment company focusing around Executive Search and IT recruiting. Centering on employee retention by ensuring the best candidate fit, Gareth presents the tools that they use to ensure employee engagement and retention. Join Ben and Gareth as they take you through the ideal recruitment process, explain the difference of job description and engagement package, and so much more.


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Ensuring Employee Engagement And Retention With Gareth Callaway

Head to YourLivingBrand.live, click on your favorite episode and subscribe. Tell me what you like about the show. Tell me what you don't like about the show. Tell me about some guests that you'd love to have on the show. I love reading your comments. I love reading everything that you guys do. Get involved and get engaged. What we're going to do is we're going to talk to Gareth. He has got a company called Gateway Staffing, and what they do is recruiting. Gareth, welcome to the show. 

Thanks, Ben. It's good to be here. 

I have been looking forward to this interview. We had some great conversations and maybe we're going to bring golf back into this conversation. It sounds like you and I both have the sport in our blood, but I want to talk to you about it because your agency is different. You take this from a different point of view for recruiting, for the industries than a lot of other recruiters do. It's probably what's made you successful. Tell me a little bit about Gareth. Tell me a little bit about Gateway. Tell me a little bit about who you are, what you do and why you do it?

First of all, before we do that, I better back up the golf story. I have the last name, Callaway. It's spelled the same as the golf club. That is where the similarity ends. I'm not that good. 

You aspire to be, that's the important part.

Who are Gareth and Gateway? I started off, to all intents and purposes, in a software company. As the resource manager, we focus largely on insurance companies. I was responsible for staffing the implementation projects. I then moved on to the agency world. About several years ago, I ended opening up Gateway. Ironically, as a recruiter, I probably discovered that I was unemployable. I decided it was best to employ myself. Gateway's been in business for about many years. We've mutated in the last few years. You and I started talking because we were talking about employee coaching and engagement. That's a big part of what we do.

The rather cute one-line sales pitch is that I do my job not to recruit for my clients, but to not recruit from our clients. To put it another way, once we fill a job, I never want to talk to you again about it. What we do is we look at the search and selection process from a more all-encompassing view. We implement behavioral surveys, for example. That's a key part of what we do. As far as the behavioral surveys go, we don't start with giving. Ben, you want to work with Gateway. You don't, but let's say you do. I get your resume. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to take a behavioral survey of myself. That behavioral survey is going to say, "Gareth, what traits are you looking for in your new account manager?" We've set a metric.

A job description is going to tell you what you're looking for. Click To Tweet

One of the things we do through the selection process is that we will say, "Ben, take this behavioral survey." What we're trying to do is establish a match. We also do that with cognitive surveys with cognitive tests. Cognitive tests are a bit different because there’s the obvious one-liner, which I hear a lot is, "We look at somebody smart and good." You need a metric. You need a benchmark. That's essentially the same process. The behavioral survey is a bit of a bouncing ball that you need to follow. Because what happens with the behavioral surveys is that once you find out those behavioral traits, what motivates Ben, we can say, “How are we going to motivate Ben? We know how to do that because we've got a behavioral survey. It’s talent optimization. We get into a broader theme of talent optimization. This is a sliver of the discipline. The reason it's a sliver of the discipline is that we're recruiters, we're not HR managers. We're not coaches. We're not consultants in that respect. Once the candidate walks in the door on day one, that's your job to take over from there. We give you the tools to do that. 

This is how best to manage and what motivates Ben. That stuff for the very high level is a key component of how you motivate the employee. All statistics prove that if you can engage your employees, they going to stick around. The old line is you pay your employees twice a month but they have to come in twenty times, sometimes more a month. You want to make sure that they enjoy coming in because if they don't, they're not engaged. If they're not engaged, they're not staying. You're going to have to talk to me again. Nobody wants to talk to me. It's not simple. 

I want to unpack a lot of the stuff that you talked about because the one thing that I talk about over and over again is every employee that you lose costs you $100,000 to replace. The number is staggering what it costs. I'm not talking about your fees, I'm talking about what it costs from the moment they leave from the moment they are up and running, they're efficient. All the insider costs, everything goes with it. The problem is most employees, 70% of them are unengaged. 50% of people that work for you are probably looking at Indeed or Workopolis looking for a job. People are unengaged at work. The reason is that most companies do not understand what motivates individuals and they don't know how to lead individuals. 

This gets better. Let's forget, Gareth. Let's forget dealing with a recruiter. Let's focus on engaging the people you've got there. I've heard all the other stats. For example, to replace a C-suite executive, you're looking at 213% of salary. That was a LinkedIn survey. There was a Gallup research that I saw said that "Several months from now, 46% of the people who start work will not be with that company." That's half of the people. Whatever you're doing with your staff is essentially half of that cost. You can assume that half of them aren't going to be there in several months. Let's focus on engaging the people we've got working for us. If you engage your employees on average, you will get a 9% increase in productivity. I had a call with a client. That client works for a company that employs 8,000 people. If they had a 9% lift in productivity on average, that's 720 headcounts. If you can increase productivity like that, those disengaged people who leave don't need to be replaced because you've increased productivity. There are all kinds of goodness. What's the joke about work? The first 40 years are the worst. They don't have to be. You're engaged in what you do.

I'm engaged in what I do but the fact of the matter is increasingly, we're the minority and we shouldn't be because it's not rocket science. I will guarantee you that a tremendous number of people who are employees or managers have perfectly, good, healthy relationships outside of the office and they're engaged with other things outside of the office. They've proven that they can do it. They probably need help. That's what you need to be doing with a collaborative work environment. 

That's the basis of my course, How to Retain Employees Through Leadership. It's all about how do you engage people? How do you listen to them? How do you care about the people that work for you? How do you lead them instead of managing them? If talking by leadership at all levels and engagement comes from great leadership. It all comes down to do your people understand what the value of the company is? Do they understand where they fit inside the company? What they do has a purpose and what they do helps the company be better? Are they appreciated for the work that they do? 

LBL Callaway | Employee Engagement And Retention

Employee Engagement And Retention: If you engage your employees on average, you will get an increase in productivity.


I would contend that it's on a smaller scale than that. I read an article that companies who may have a terrible reputation, in general, have got these little beacons inside the organization. If you're Gareth and you work in the sales group, but my manager is doing a good job at managing and I'm doing a good job of my job because it takes two, then that team is functioning well. You have to envelop that team in the organization but there are a number of teams that operate, wider communities if you like. All of those communities have a place. If I'm not working, one of the big things for me is Rugby. I'm a Welshman. It's in my genes. I'm the president of my local Rugby club. It’s a fascinating thing to see. The season before the last, our senior men won the Club Championship. You would not believe how tight that group. It was unbelievable. We lost in the finals, but I will say that looking at our board was starting to function as a team. It was only then that I realized, "We've got a whole different set of units going on here." Whether it be the coaching staff, whether it be the senior players, whether it be the senior man, senior women thing. They're all engaged at different levels in different groups. That group is Markham Irish Canadian Rugby Club.

It's fascinating to see all of those groups under the umbrella operating at different levels, whether it be senior play, senior men, senior women, juniors, minis, the coaching staff and the board. The parents of the minis and the parents of the juniors, they're all members of 2, 3, 4 groups inside the club, but we all come under that corporate umbrella. Of course, your sports teams and I would contend Rugby teams, in particular, are good at that. There's something about contact sport that helps to foster that tight-knit group or whatever it is.

It creates a bond. I'm a big believer in culture and brand story. Too many organizations have this lofty mission and vision statements posted up on the wall somewhere. Nobody remembers them. Nobody can recite them. Nobody knows what they mean. Therefore, people at the top of the organization don't understand why there is no culture. They don't understand why there is no cohesion within the company. If you create a brand story whether it's for the Rugby team or whether it's for your organization or whatever. If you have a brand story that says, "This is where we were, this is where we are, this is what we do, this is who we serve, this is where we're going." Everybody within the team understands this and you communicate it to the new members of the team. As you bring people in, you bring them into the culture and you let them know how they are key members of that team as they come into the team. It's amazing how that team succeeds. I don't care if it's sports or business, use whatever analogy that you want.

We're all better off if we all understand how we fit in. It comes down to it. I want to ask you a question about onboarding. That's something that you sit there and say, "I'm going to do the behavioral testing. I'm going to help with the psychometric testing. I'm going to help you understand what motivates these people." How many organizations that you work with have a good onboarding process to make sure from day one that this person is not filling out forms, that this person is being integrated into the company in a warm and welcoming way? They understand their purpose in the company moving forward.

It's funny what you said about the brand stories because the number that I see from many organizations and you read them, it's like, "That's big, but what does it mean?" I get what you're saying exactly. I would contend when it comes to onboarding that it starts a little bit before that. It was a word that I heard, which is pre-boarding.

Explain that. I like that word.

Don’t expect employees to survive but rather to thrive. Click To Tweet

I would put any recruiter in that pre-boarding place. The trouble with recruiting is that once everybody's happy and Ben's ready to start at Gateway, we have to do all the background checks and the references and now it gets dry and dusty. There's a real opportunity for people to start getting disengaged. Things fall between the cracks. It doesn't happen as quickly as possible. This is an opportunity for the employer to start building that relationship and start engaging the candidate or the soon to be an employee. Unfortunately, most of the time they don't. We're down to the mechanical-operational details. This is all simple. We'll do the process and you’ll start.

The good way of doing it in my view is to start involving HR talent acquisition and if possible, the line manager. Before the offer goes out, part of that process is to talk to the candidate and say, "Are you clear on what your role is?" The statistics are amazing here. The number of people who join a company and then find out that the job that they're going to be doing is different from the job that they interviewed for. It's nobody's fault. It’s that it was never communicated. They're communicating that way. We're trying to achieve that. A big part of it is encouraging the candidate to talk to the line manager, “This is not a talent acquisition job. This is a line manager job.” Talk to the line manager. I want you to be clear you know what the job is. You're going to get an offer. It's going to be contingent on background checks and references. Let's not be in such a hurry. Let's do this right.

Prior to that, there are two of the things that we need to do, which would be pre-boarding, which is the candidate experience. You want to make sure the candidate experience is positive. We try to be great at it, but we're not great at it. If we talk to a candidate, but that candidate is not moving forward and never even get to an interview, we try and send them a rejection letter. If somebody sends a resume in for a job that we've got posted, we try and send them a rejection letter. We're not great at this because of the numbers. You'd be amazed at some of the numbers. Once we've got a candidate that is in our view, worth pursuing and interviewing, there are a couple of things that happen that we're clear on. The first thing that needs to happen is we will need to do a structured video interview. A structured video interview means that you, Mrs. Client, you can sit down and have a cup of coffee in the morning. You can look at myself or one of my staff interviewing a candidate with a set of interview questions that have been pre-approved by you. In fact, you've probably got input. It's only about 8 or 10 questions.

We tried to get the client to write as many as possible, but we always like the front end with a couple of questions. Otherwise, they go straight into it. You don't want to be doing that. Even the candidates that don't get past the video interview and don't get to see the client, absolutely love it. We're not wasting their time setting them up for interviews and then realizing they sit those 90 seconds and you’re in the interview thinking, "What am I doing here?" The client's thinking that. That engages them because it shows a level of care and professionalism. The other thing that we do is we don't send up job descriptions to engage the candidates. What we do is we send out a candidate briefing pack. That candidate briefing pack is meant to engage the candidate. 

Tell me the difference between a job description and an engagement package.

A job description is going to tell you what you're looking for. Whereas given that it's a two-way sell, surely what you want to be doing is saying, "This is what we're looking for, but this should be what you're looking for." We send out a candidate briefing pack. There are a couple of things in it. First of all, it's going to tell them about the client. It's going to tell him about the role. It's going to be based on a briefing session that we have. We call it the intake call. We're going to have an intake call with a hiring manager. We're going to find out about the role. We're going to find out about all the stuff that's added to the job description. We're also doing the behavioral survey and the cognitive survey with the hiring manager to find out the kind of person that he's looking for. The process that we use, which is the selection process we call MyGateway. It's a process, but it all sits in a portal where the client can go to the portal. They can look at the video interview, they can look at the resume. They can look at all of the background information that we've got at the end of your notes. It's all in one place, instead of prepping them with 1,000 emails.

LBL Callaway | Employee Engagement And Retention

Employee Engagement And Retention: Makes sure your employees do it right the first time, so they don't have to do it a second time.


When we prepare the briefing pack, we've got that information from the client about the behavioral skills and the cognitive skills that they're looking for. By the time I send the briefing pack out to the candidate, that candidate has already taken the cognitive survey and the behavioral survey. I know that there's a match there. That candidate hasn't thought about this yet, but they're looking at the briefing pack, which is a flavor of the job description. It's got all of that information, but it's also got the behavioral traits as well as the cognitive skills that we're looking for. They're saying, "That's like me." I've sent them a copy of the behavioral survey and the cognitive survey. That's what happens in a job to engage your employees. We're engaging them as candidates because they say, "That's like me."

What I'm seeing is you are looking at it from both sides. You're trying to put a position in a place where both sides understand far more about what's going on. The traditional job recruiting and I haven't been on a job interview in many years, but from my understanding talking to a lot of people do it, it tends to be one way. You get a job description, you apply for the job, you send in your resume. If you're lucky, you're going to get a rejection letter. More than likely, you're not. I truly don't understand if every resume comes in electronically and as attached your email address, why there can't be some system that's set up, so it automatically filtered with a yes, no. The ones that get no, get out a rejection letter. That's a technology that either I understand or I don't understand. What we need to do is we need to make the hiring process more human. Get people to understand that it's a two-way street and it's trying to make it better for both parties to make sure that what you're doing is you're not wasting your time.

If you don't have the same interests, the same likes, the same skillset that they're looking for and it's a matching system, then you'll better that you don't have the angst, the heartache and the headache of going after this job that you're never going to get. Focus on the jobs that you're going to get. The same goes for hiring managers. They're getting candidates that are going to be better suited for the job, the culture and the organization. I see this as more of a win-win and a more of a human solution.

You call it a two-way street. It's funny because I call it a Two-way Sell.

They're selling each other.

The funny thing about it is it's a two-way sell, but everybody wants it to work. Nobody likes hiring. Nobody's looking for a job. If you are recruiting or if you're looking for a job, you're in a pretty miserable place. You might be one of the 50% of LinkedIn users who are passively looking for work.

They've got the note next to their name that says, "If you contact me, I'll be more than happy to at least talk to you about it."

If you are passively looking, it means that you're passively disengaged with your job as opposed to reactively disengaged from your job. It is a two-way sell. That's lost on some people. A perfect example of this was a workshop I went to quite a while back. It was the old sell me a pen. The guy gave me his pen. He said, "Sell me a pen." I put his pen in my pocket and walked away. He said, "What was that about?" I said, "I needed a pen more than I needed your job." He didn't sell it to me. He's picking me to sell to him. That's the nature of the two-way sell. If he'd sold it to me and what he would've done is find a way for me to engage with them. I have no interest in engaging with the guy.

I love that, “Sell me a pen.” I've heard that story a couple of times. There are people either walk away, especially if it's a nice Montblanc or a Cross pen or something big. All of a sudden you say, "Here's my business card," and walk away with a pen. He says, "If you want your pen back, it's going to cost you." I've had a friend of mine do that with a guy says, "Sell me my laptop." He walked away with the guy's laptop. Left his business card. He says, "You want it back, it's going to cost you." 

Those old trustee interview questions as well. It's like, "Tell me about a time where you had to handle conflict in the office." How many times have you asked that question in interviews? Let's move on.

What you need to do and what organizations need to understand is because you're railing on the Millennials and the Gen Zs about, "They don't stick around. They're don't want to be part of the process. They're looking for it every eighteen months." Nobody wants to be out there with the resume in hand out there interviewing. Nobody wants to spend their life interviewing and feel that every eighteen months they need to go to another company. They want to be listened to, they want to be understood and they want to be valued. If you can do that to employees within an organization, they're going to be engaged and they're not going to go out looking for another job.

You're starting the process by starting the communication. The challenge is getting these organizations once they have been the person on board to realize that they have to continue to engage employees. They have to continue to talk to them. They have to continue to sit there and say, "Where do you want to go next? What does your path look like?" It's not doing a 360 once a year and saying, "I've done my job. I did my review as the employee. We talked once a year. I did my 360 and I'm done." It's an ongoing conversation. That's what leadership is all about. 

Here's the beauty of it, because that's not my thing. That's not what I do. 

That's what I do.

For me, the clients that say, "Thank you, Gareth. We’ve got a new person on board. This is what we're doing to engage the person and therefore retain the person." It spreads through the organization. That's not my thing, it's not what I do. I find people. The beauty of it is those organizations that go off, they take that advice, they take that guidance and they put in place structured programs to ensure that they get the best out of their people, they will always come back to me. I know part of their team. We talked about different teams. It's a bit of a cliché to say you want to be a business partner and not a salesperson. Fully recognizing the cliché, but it allows Gateway to be a part of that extended team. I truly do not want to keep hearing about the same job over and over again.

If that's happening, your problem is not the vacancy. Your problem is somewhere else in the organization and that's what you need to fix. Once you've fixed that, then come back to me. As a favor, I helped out a friend of a friend with a recruiting exercise. The last I heard, he may have hired somebody. I'm going to send him an invoice after the guarantee period is over. The reason I'm going to send him an invoice after the guarantee period is over is because I don't want to have to find the replacement. I have no faith and no confidence that I will not need to look for a replacement.

We talk about this engagement part of it and you engage people, you retain your people. Search firms have placement guarantees. Most of us in the home renovation business, would be called a Red Light Guarantee. Meaning that as soon as the brake lights disappear in the corner, the guarantee is over. Three months is fairly common. Six months for some. Ours is dramatically longer than that. The reason I was this longer than that is that the proof of the pudding is in eating, and we know that it works. This process wasn't put in place by us. I'm not that smart. This process was a collaborative effort between about 130 agencies worldwide, most of which are British agencies, recruiting firms and executives, right across the whole spectrum. It's been a fine-tuned process that works. We're required to report our numbers. The retention statistics are on my LinkedIn profile. The retention numbers are magnificent. Twenty months, 93%. I was better than that. 

It's about understanding the culture or the organizations that you're selling into. If you can do a cultural fit, which looks like what you're doing, you're able to have somebody that has a far better chance of being able to survive within that company. Far longer than the 12, 18, 24 months because they're walking in with their eyes wide open. They're doing the conversation with somebody to sit there and say, "What is the job?" Before they walk in the door or they sign the agreement that they're having the pre-onboarding, the onboarding. You're selling into organizations that understand that unless you take the time at the frontend to understand who the people are that you're hiring and how they fit with your culture, you're going to fail.

We don't expect people to survive, we expect them to thrive.

The important thing is getting people to thrive within the organization. You're right. Thrive is a far better word. I may have to have you back for another interview, but this is the question that I ask people as they walk out the door. When you walk out the door and you leave a meeting when you get in your car and you drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about Gareth Callaway and Gateway Staffing when you're not in the room? 

I want us to be trusted business partners. To be a trusted business partner, you have to know your stuff. You have to know what you're doing. You also have to be not that recruiter. Not that agency that is like, "The industry is known for it." Chasing fees. Doing a shoddy job. The line around the office is this, and this is probably the one line that I take the heart and I make sure everybody around me knows it. Our job is not to ask how little we can do for the fee, but how much we can do for the fee. Our job is to make sure that we do it right the first time, so we don't have to do it a second time. All of these tools are there for a reason. They're there so that you only have to do that job once with me. I want people to think he knows his stuff, they know what they're doing and they will work with us to solve our business challenges.

When you add value to people's brands, they keep coming back. Being in business for several years, you've proven the fact that people keep coming back time and time again. Gareth, thank you for being a wonderful guest. Thank you for being on the show. I've learned so much. I can't wait to go back into this interview and unpack some stuff. Thanks for being you. 

Ben, it’s been an absolute delight. I must say, we have spoken a few times leading into this. You and I could easily waste an entire day on a conversation.

Take care and I'll talk to you soon. 

Thanks a lot. Bye.


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About Gareth Callaway

LBL Callaway  Gareth Callaway | Employee Engagement And RetentionGareth is the President of Gateway Staffing, a recruiting company focused around Executive Search and IT recruiting. He’s owned Gateway since 1998 when he discovered that he was unemployable.

Prior to Gateway, Gareth started out in recruitment advertising in London, England back in the day when recruitment ads used to appear in newspapers. Since then he has worked for a couple of agencies and prior to Gateway, worked for a software vendor, sourcing their implementation projects.

Today Gateway focuses on employee retention by ensuring the best candidate fit using a number of tools that together go a long way towards ensuring employee engagement and retention. When he’s not thoroughly engaged by work he’s totally engaged by his beautiful bride and six kids (that’s not a typo) and as a transplanted Welshman is almost as passionate about rugby as his job and family.

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