Malcolm Paice (MD), Keystone Employment GroupMalcolm Paice (MD)
It is safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped up to be the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations of our lifetime. The need to retain and re-hire staff in a more dynamic manner has never been higher. Today, organisations have realised the importance of having more frictionless, ‘always-on’ workforce management and recruitment solutions available to users 24/7 wherever they are in the world. 2020 has seen numerous workers move from full time to part time and working across multiple employers (or often the same employer but in different divisions). As organisations embark on their post-COVID recovery journey, they are actively transforming their talent models and digitising their talent value chains. To support such companies in their endeavour, Keystone Employment Group offers full temporary and permanent search and recruitment services for a wide range of sectors and roles. Keystone Talent Bank equips organisations with a complete suite of online tools for hiring and managing casual workers. The highly innovative Talent Bank platform allows organisations to bring all the hiring and management of staff into a single online application that streamlines the recruitment process as well as compliance and worker payment.

In an interview with Manage HR, Malcolm Paice, Managing Director at Keystone Employment Group, discusses how his company’s industry-leading online recruitment tools can dramatically reduce the time and money an organisation spends on recruitment.

Could you provide us with your insights into the current talent management landscape and the emerging trends? How is Keystone Employment Group aligning itself with these trends?

The key trend is the need to retain and re-hire staff in a more dynamic manner. Historically, temporary staff agencies have been very reactive and not particularly focused on helping organisations access talent over and again. Most often, agencies farm employees out to the highest bidder for yielding maximum profits without paying heed to the longer term interests of the worker or the employer. While more workers are moving from full time to part time, Talent Bank and the more dynamic online market place democratises the use of contingent workers and puts the control back into the hands of the workers and employers, rather than the agency middlemen who are ultimately only interested in their own bottom line. Talent Bank increases workers’ retention by up to 75 percent along with a substantial increase in re-hires, where employers re-engage a worker time and again because they can access them in three clicks and with no agency fees.

Keystone Talent Bank has seen continual growth during 2020 (and now into 2021) from organisations wanting to engage and manage part time and contingent workers via online tools and move away from a traditional, paper-based and agency-centric approach.

We have seen Talent Bank increase the retention of workers by up to 75 percent along with a substantial increase in re-hires, where employers reengage a worker time and again because they can access them in three clicks and with no agency fees

Give us an in-depth understanding of how your Talent Bank solution helps colleges and universities boost student employability while reducing the cost of temporary and permanent recruitment.

Since universities in the UK want to offer as many “earn while you learn” work opportunities to students as possible, we engaged with a number of universities early on to help them manage their part time work force. The beauty of a software and data-driven employment strategy is that it is easy (and measurable) to have students as the preferred candidate for any roles that come up, as long as they meet the vital criteria. In this way, a university can have a much more student-centric recruitment approach and measure what opportunities are being offered to their students, when and at what pay rate. We can illuminate every single aspect of students—their age, profile, background, what work opportunities they are getting (and what they’re missing), their pay rates, successes and areas for improvement. For the university, they can track progress and success across the whole estate of students and demonstrate, with hard, tangible data, just how well they are doing and then adapt their employability strategies accordingly. Even better, for employers or businesses looking to employ recent graduates, a university can provide them with access to their rich pool of experienced students in a very specific and targeted way. A number of universities are now using Talent Bank to offer a commercially viable employment agency of their own. This maximises opportunities for the graduates and improves the standing of the higher education institutions among businesses.

Keystone Talent Bank is now available across the entire UK public sector via the UK Government Digital Marketplace, known as G-Cloud. This innovative approach from the UK Government removes a lot of procurement red tape and barriers for those public sector organisations looking to access SaaS solutions to exercise efficiencies and costs savings. To date, public sector organisations in the UK have spent over £4 billion on cloud services via the digital marketplace. As Keystone Talent Bank is available via G-Cloud, we can reach a far wider range of organisations across the UK and Ireland.

Please share a case study where Keystone Employment Group helped its client overcome talent management challenges and attained successful outcomes.

Keystone Employment Group’s capabilities were fully utilised during our engagement with London South Bank University (LSBU). LSBU was keen on reducing its reliance on traditional employment agencies and finding opportunities for their students. They decided to adopt a highly innovative approach by setting up their own agency, powered by a 24/7 online Talent Bank that would equip students with work opportunities around the clock, wherever they were in the world. In a bold and ground-breaking move, LSBU created an entirely new entity, LSBU Employment, in partnership with Keystone Employment Group along with an on-campus and online employment service. A wide range of external organisations and businesses were soon attracted to the LSBU Employment proposition, with a Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and cost benefit of utilising their local university to source talent—as opposed to a traditional recruitment agency. This partnership created a true one-stop-shop service that updated the old concept of an on-campus ‘job shop’. With students expecting an ‘always-on’ digital service that they could access both in and out of term time without the need to be on campus, the LSBU Employment service was accessible 24/7 x 365 on laptops, mobile phones and tablets.

In its first year of operation, LSBU Employment has seen over 3,750 candidates register on the system, facilitated 190 internships, provided over 4,000 work assignments and over 110,000 hours of work experience. A 95 percent satisfaction rate among users of the scheme is further evidence of the success of this unique partnership between LSBU and Keystone Talent Bank. This initiative has also bagged the annual CUBO (College & University Business Officers) Awards 2020 in the category of Business Partnership of the Year. This was a great way to mark the end of a tough year but an amazing partnership.

What are the key differentiators that make Keystone Employment Group unique?

Our uniqueness stems from our agility, customisable solution and partnership approach with our clients. Rather than having a ‘one size fits all’ approach, we always start by getting to know prospective clients and seeing how they currently do things and where the pinch points are. We then show them how others in the same position have used our system to fix those problems and then look at whether certain aspects need to be customised more to rightly fit the specific needs of that client.

In order to help the public sector find solutions that are fit for purpose, Keystone focuses on what is needed before getting to the actual procurement stage. Keeping up with the ever-changing nature of large organisations, we ensure that we flex with them with constant improvements to the software and processes around the specific application.

A lot of companies pay lip service to a ‘partnership approach’, but we truly practice it- and all of our customers will testify to this. We work alongside them to solve problems and make their working lives simpler and more frictionless. Such results are possible to achieve with a deeper, more detailed and meaningful approach as opposed to a straight customer/supplier approach.

What does the future hold for Keystone Employment Group?

Our solutions are always evolving, improving, growing. We have added several new features in the past 12 months, some of which are really significant steps forward. We adopt an ongoing iterative approach of continuous improvement, and that will remain the case this year. We have already secured a strong position in higher education and are highly focused on the healthcare sector at the moment. In terms of geographic expansion, Keystone Employment Group’s service can be scaled anywhere globally backed by an incredibly devoted and reliable team. In the future, we expect to increase our growth rate domestically and continue looking for global opportunities.