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The Resilient Recruiter

Apr 14, 2022

“Leaving people in the situation where all their major needs are met. For us, that is what a truly employee-centric model is. It is putting our people’s needs first so that they are at their best, and in turn they will make sure that the service they are providing to our clients and candidates is also at its best.” This is how my special guest, Saira Demmer, explains their approach to creating a culture of high performance. If you are looking for strategies to increase your employee engagement and individual performance, I am sure you will enjoy this episode!

Saira is the CEO of SF Recruitment Group, a specialist recruitment firm located in the Midlands. Since 1998, SF Group has placed over 40,000 people and they’ve been recognized as one of the Top 20 companies to work for in the UK. Saira is passionate about employee engagement and since joining SF has introduced a new people-centric business model which has delivered an increase of over 60% in individual employee performance and reward. 

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:45] From corporate to a big investment firm to recruiting - Saira shared how she fell in love with the recruitment industry.
  • [10:54] How employee engagement is promoted at SF Group.
  • [19:02] “Work where and when you want” - learn what this means in SF’s way of working.
  • [26:10] Is it possible to enable people to measure and track performance without imposing KPIs?
  • [30:23] The SF Experience and how it creates an environment where people can be successful.
  • [34:08] Promoting intellectual freedom with a culture of coaching and guidance.
  • [37:37] SF’s efforts in developing seniority and compensation to enhance performance.
  • [40:42] How SF celebrates and shares success stories within the business.
  • [46:53] Saira shares their plans for SF's expansion.

How to Create an Environment of High Performance Recruiters

SF Recruitment was listed 18th in the UK's 'Top 100 Small Companies to Work For', securing a place in the Top 20 for the second year. Their commitment to employee engagement has not only garnered them local and national recognition, but it is reflected in their performance as well. After joining SF, Saira introduced a people-centric business model that doubled productivity. Saira’s insightful take on KPIs may nudge you to re-think your strategy in terms of performance management and employee engagement. Here are some key pointers that Saira shared which I encourage you to focus on in this episode:

  • The work “where and when you want to” approach.
  • Promoting intellectual freedom among recruiters in a coaching environment.
  • Backing up performance with an Employee Ownership Scheme

The SF Recruitment Experience

To show the level of commitment they have for their employee experience, Saira came up with a business model called the SF Experience. This is an approach wherein they are able to build a high-performing culture through autonomy and flexibility. Benchmarking of packages and earnings is regularly done. In fact, one notable achievement by Saira is achieving a 0% gender pay gap at SF three years after reporting a 23% gap in 2018! This combination of benefits indeed results in better profitability and employee retention. Listen to this episode to hear the specifics directly from Saira.

An Insightful Take on KPIs 

I am a firm believer in knowing your numbers. Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are incredibly valuable in order to manage and optimize your performance. Interestingly, Saira mentioned that in SF, they do not impose KPIs. I asked Saira to what extent they enable people to measure their milestones resulting in placements and billings? Be sure to listen to this interview to discover her answer.

Our Sponsors

This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro®. 

i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Our technology and methodology allows recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees and increase their billings. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter for a 25% discount. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here: 

Saira Demmer Bio and Contact Info

Saira is CEO at SF Group, a specialist recruitment firm headquartered in the Midlands. Saira joined in 2018 having previously been UK CEO and CFO at Ignata where she played a key role in building the group to over £40m of turnover today. Her knowledge of recruitment and talent solutions was honed during six years spent in Deloitte’s M&A strategy team, where she was involved in a number of high-profile deals in the recruitment sector.

Outside of the boardroom, Saira is also a dedicated adventurer, she previously climbed half of Mount Everest and loves to travel the world to pursue her love of open-water diving.

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