A: So my name is Alicia Teagle I am one of the four co-founders of SR2 which stands for socially responsible recruitment company and we are a coming up to our second birthday next month and that started as I said with the four and we're now 17 amazing people and just trying to change the way that recruitment's done in short.
J: In what way do you think you're changing it, what makes you different from... everyone else?
A: From everyone else that's what everyone else says. We started SR2 with like a double bottom line, so we wanted to create a community driven recruitment company which is completely different to the norm. With all of the four founders been very successful recruitment, kept ourselves to ourselves, but because we were in a big corporate organization we weren't allowed to have a voice, we weren't allowed to recruit the ways that we wanted to because it was recruit top down and we have to do what we were told basically. So, wanted to startup SR2 and said we give 5 percent of all profits back to underrepresented charities we change every year. Last year we gave 17,000 pound to caring in Bristol and we've just changed our charity to 'Changes' which are a mental health charity with the aim to hopefully doubling if not tripling our contribution to focus on males mental health or LGBTQ because changes is an unbelievable charity and we really want to support them. And then we run host and sponsor pretty much all of the technical meetups I run in Bristol from Bristol DevOps, PHP Southwest, LadiesUX, Bristol go line and yeah a number of them. I founded WomenRock in January last year and WomenRock is a platform for women in IT, so my mission is to make Bristol the most diverse city in tech in the UK by the end of 2025. I run Bristol code bar, I know I sound like a complete mentalist with all of this by the way, and Bristol code bar which is again it's a amazing global initiative and in 21 different countries they came to us said could you run it in Bristol, so we, myself and JC, we run it second Tuesday of every month. It's a free workshop anyone who wants to get in coding. I host Yenna and then I just launched 'Bristol tech volunteers' a year ago and am just about to relaunch and I've got 405 volunteers who give back to the tech community. So yeah that's me in a nutshell.
J: Do you think using your employees obviously respond well to the kind of essentially responsible values inherent in the company?
H: So how have you avoided the common pitfalls of recruiters, there's obviously a bit of a stigma behind recruitment. You've got the ethos and the value standards absolutely. How do you install that into your employees and then get them to install that into their the methodology behind the recruitment process.
A: When we started out obviously just me and the boys and I started out the only girl for ages in my career, but when we first started out I think... it's like, we've never been bad recruiters, the horror stories that you here sometimes we're like: 'oh my god how could you do that!' We've never been like that as recruiters anyway, even though we work for a big corporate organization, that was never trained into us and we never had that ethos from our career so we've never been like that. But in terms of our brand in the market, our brand and it is perceived with other recruitment companies that were a bit of a women's club now. We're not completely not, just that there are more women than men now, we're not women's only club. We're all massively into our fitness, we're not going out every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday which is typical for recruiters. We do boot camp every single Monday as a team. Our benefits are unlimited holiday and two-hour lunches. We don't have KPI's, we don't have targets, everyone's got that annual target they do whatever they need to do to be successful and we'll support them in that. I do a lot of my recruitment over tech so using Whatsapp; it's not about picking up the phone doing 50 calls a day that's not how we recruit, and it's come from getting the brand out as quickly as possible after six months and it's just been through referrals, recommendations and it's going really well. We meet so many of our candidates at meet ups, I know I'm not a developer but I know how development works I'm not gonna send a Java developer to a Python developer role well for you know. I am a big softy I speak to anyone. So for example David didn't have the perfect skill set but it's just about digging a bit deeper and finding that out and as soon as you do pick up the phone get the nitty and gritty you can unravel some amazing things and go: 'okay it doesn't have this but what he does up with that and would be a really good sort of fit for the business as well'. There's loads of things but we're just, we're pretty chill and we're just smashing.
J: On the topic of David it kind of links into how you work and cooperate with millennials and the Gen Z population, so how do you work with kind of clients like David and also like with your employees who might be millennials or the Gen Z population?
A: Do you know what we were having this argument the other day, whether I was a millennial because I am 30 in five months and that's 'am i a millennial?'. I was nineteen ninety. They're completely different like completely different people. I've always recruited in Bristol but I've done recruitment for six years, I've always done software development in Bristol and the recent graduates, juniors or millennials as we say, when you're recruiting them they are just so passionate technology and it's because when they're doing their degrees it's completely different. Degrees back in the day where Java that's what you did. Software engineering as it was back in the day it was nothing like it is now. Now their doing machine learning, they're doing AI, they're doing all different types of technology that they've got such a real interest in it and they're so excited to learn, that they're just amazing to work with but also clients can normally quite easily pick up projects as amazing graduate schemes that happen in in Bristol. But they're just buzzing to learn so it's all about the technology for them, it's not money it's not I need to have remote working and it's not I need to have 90 days holiday a year. It's all about the technology and working on something that they really want to work in I'm working a graduate role at the moment, a graduate junior role as a graduate data scientists and they're all buzzing for it and they would pick up the phone that would be really easy but then obviously when you are more experienced you've got 100 people hounding you and this many job offers so there's not as many jobs so they are a lot more enthusiastic about recruiters and recruitment and interviews. It it is all about technology.
J: And in terms of the people that work with you, I mean that demographic, what do you think drives them, what motivates them?
A: All of them literally, well apart from three founders and Sam, everyone's under the age of 26 in our office, over the age of 20 under the age of 26 yeah that's probably rough of the probably 12, 13 of them. They all love fitness, I mean the world's changing isn't it. It's not going out and being drunk anymore, it's about Instagram, Snapchat and the way that you look on social media, even though we've stopped social media a little bit as they got a bit obsessed. They love fitness and they love their unlimited holiday, they all went festivals during the summer and it wasn't: 'Oh you need to do this', if you're performing you can go on as many holidays as you want and that's been a big thing for us bringing that unlimited holiday because it has been a lot of them haven't actually used it like that way, many of them are under the minimum anyway. But it's just about again treating them like adults, but allowing them to be creative, their already were really creative people and doing things completely differently, all of them recruit in a completely different way, and have their own personalities and we've allowed them to do that exactly, recruit the way that they want to, not this is what you need to do, this is what you don't need to look like, it's going post pineapple on LinkedIn explain why you're doing it if that works for you then go and do it. So it's allowing that, that autonomy to be themselves.
J: So with the unlimited holidays, is that complete autonomy? What comes with unlimited holiday?
A: Literally they have unlimited holiday, so it's not you have 25 days a year, you can have as many holidays, as much holiday days as you want, within reason of course. If someone's way underperforming then we're going to question that. But if they're above and they go I want a week's holiday a month, fine. If you're hitting your target and you're doing that number or more than great. Like, Nate got married last year and he had his wedding and then he had three weeks honeymoon so we had four weeks all at once, normally that takes up your whole, your whole holiday just to get married and then it was I'll have a week off in September, a week off in December, so it was six weeks. But then this year he's not taking as much because of last year. So it sort of balances out, but of course we keep track of it and we've declined a couple of days when some of them aren't where they need to be for the month. But it is, yeah, loads of people haven't used as much holidays as they would if it was 25 days.
J: Following on from that, we are kind of entering an experience economy now, and people value experiences over more kind of traditional salaries and etc., so do you think that kind of the people you work with are more interesting than the experience benefits associated with their work life?
A: 100% yeah. Like recruitment is a very lucrative industry you can make some crazy money and I've met people who make just barbaric amounts of money in recruitment, and even though, like, all of them are driven by different things. They love the candidates, they love the industries they work in, they're really excited by technology, they love coming to work every day and you can ask every single one of them... well I say every single day... most days they do like come into work. But it does I mean it just changed, it's just changing the way that workplaces are. I mean everyone has got this even they we're all like the same sort of ages between like 25 and, Chris can kill me if I say for 40 then...and like 37, but we've got loads of different people, different personalities and it's just all work together and I completely forgot the question that you asked me...
J: That's okay.
H: Me too!
A: I was like: 'I'll just go along with this'.
J: I think you answered it to be honest. It was just talking about people valuing experience more.
A: Yeah we do a boot camp on a Monday we do that, and we're going paddleboarding on Friday, end of summer social paddleboarding, then over to pump houses some drinks, we do, we did Amsterdam in like April/May, 48 hours of yeah mentalness. But it's fun and everyone's really social, for example the girls they're all the same age all like the same things, so they're always out together every single weekend, they went down to a llama festival this weekend; so yeah we're a really sociable bunch and definitely a hundred percent as soon as there's a holiday target on for example everyone's like: 'yeah let's go!'. I wouldn't say that their money driven and definitely not like I was when I started in recruitment six years ago. I was like... eyes on the cash, but then that's changed for me as well. And it's definitely not in them to be massively money driven, and more about opportunities and doing a really good job as well. Like when they get so caught up at and so disappointed if they're not where they need to be, that it really gets them down, you can tell straight away if they've lost a deal or their candidate doesn't got a job or something's happened just the amount it kicks and they're just so disappointed in themselves when sometimes nine times out of ten it's not really their fault. But they're really passionate, good, good bunch, crazy, but very good.
J: You talk about the kind of... the change from like six years prior to now and the state of the tech recruitment industry. What do you see happening, say in six years time?
A: I'm not gonna have a brain. Bristol is mental first of all. Because I've always recruited here, now I do do a little bit in London. But I've always recruited here. I'm Bristol born and bred, I'm so proud of the city, but even like walking through Castle Park the last two years, no sorry, last year since we've been on this side, I have always been on that side just the amount of people it's mental. And on the road driving home it's just so much busier, but in terms of the state of it I think it is busy, it's buoyant, I think there is amazing people available, people move in every two, three years on our fridge at the moment, and that's because of the tech start ups and scale ups that are growing, they don't want to work for the Deloitte's, the RBS, the Nationwide's for example. Sorry Nationwide I shouldn't say that. But they want to work for like cool tech startup companies or scale-ups where they can have a voice and not just be a number, but be a person and work some really cool tech. So it's like, it literally never ceases to amaze me the industry. Because one day I'll be working with company that are doing HR software to someone that's doing genomic medicine to then a brand new FinTech that is doing investment platforms and there's just huge opportunities to work on really cool stuff so. The next six years, it scares that like hell on me it really does, because I think, I don't know, like it's so good now and it's so exciting, I don't know how it can progress but it will in, it's technology so, I don't know where everyone's going to go. It's probably the thing in Bristol I don't know where people are gonna go but I'm sure they'll be fitted in somewhere.
H: You found that there is more people looking that jobs going at the moment?
A: Oh no 100% not. There's there was a stat that there was a hundred and seventy four jobs per one developer in Bristol and that was earlier in the year. So yeah it's a massive market and I'm working with a young lady at the moment just moved over from New Zealand Bristol and she's a brilliant Java developer and she's on about I've got about 13 interviews for her, but it is amazing because you can then put everything on the table , this is where she wants to work okay, these are all the opportunities that fit in with that and then you can choose the best one that's gonna fit you. It's massively candidates driven, candidates are in demand, but there are some really cool jobs as well. Companies, I heard the other day that Graphcore is going to release 250 new roles next year. I don't know where they're going to get 250 candidates from, but 74 people we can relocate into Bristol. It's just finding where they're gonna go and what's next for technology.
H: When you're dealing with your recruitment process with all these tech people are you using technology in any way differently from other recruiters, who instead might be using just, just bog standard recruitment, are you using technology to enhance your process?
A: No not at all, and there are there's some really good new recruitment tools being brought out, like videos and things like that but I think the best thing about being a good recruiter is yourself. I've got an unbelievable network of people that I've built up all this time and I think I've got I get quite a lot of good recommendations and referrals now. All you need is this and your phone and your brain because, like, I don't want to do video things they don't want do it they're busy. I know if they're good or not, we have a chat, go out for a coffee or a beer or a lot of cider like last night with Rachel. You just know your clients. So yeah it's not, it's not for me, I just do yeah through my recommendations, but there are some good tools and I'm sure it's great for... there are some good HR software in terms of, sorry recruiting software, which is like greenhouse and things like that which good for tracking candidates, which have come out which are you're in there really simple.
J: It sounds a bit like that e-dating video, the old school videotapes...
A: It's the same isn't it. It's like technology's just progressing every single day. but yeah I'm just an old, I don't wanna say an old school recruiter because I'm not. I just use, I literally just text, Whatsapp. WhatsApp is basically a new technology, I do a lot over that and a lot of companies using... I heard are using WhatsApp with their recruitment and making sure that, for example in candidates when they're starting to then it might be like three months or two months from when they're starting, keeping in touch with them via WhatsApp, and little reminders going out to them.
H: When I went through my process from being a graduate, transitioning from a graduate to, to having this job, I probably used five different recruitment services, it was the one that I found that I really did enjoy communicating with was the one I used WhatsApp with, that I just made it a bit informal and good to use. So you've got this unlimited holiday policy, what about, what are your views on remote work within recruitment?
A: So we launched this like because we brought in Sam. Sam's been with us maybe two months now and Sam is our second parent, she's a mom of two. Sam's got ten years experience in recruitment, she is the most well connected recruiter I've ever met, ever. She just knows everyone, everyone knows her, she's brilliant. But she works part-time and we were, when we were interviewing her and I know she won't mind just saying but we were it this going to work for us, we were only like fourteen people when she came in. It was our first part-timer and we're growing, but it works really well, we bought laptops for everyone, so you can plug in when you're at your desk or you can then just completely unplug and take in everything still on there exactly the same as you left it. And everyone Principle and above ,I'm sorry what principle level gets one day a week for remote working. And just because everyone else who's under that still needs some support from us and to be fair we've got such a cool office and we've got a really nice atmosphere and really nice buzz, if people have got dentists or need to do something then yeah take a half day, do whatever. Like Steven banged his car and needs to get it sorted so yeah cool do that, fix that. Just be honest, truthful, we trust everyone enough to do that, but with us we any offer it for like principals and above just because we're too new just. I don't like remote working at all, it's not for me and it is not for a couple of us who... have got shared houses and haven't really got anywhere to to remote work, when we do need quite a lot of stuff for us, but again it's if someone needs it then you hundred percent.
J: You also talked about not using KPI's, so what is your process of goal setting for your team, you and your team?
A: So we do scrum boards, so we've got a scrum board that we do every Monday and every Wednesday and individually you come up, and let's say you've got your candidates, you've got interviews, you've got pledge and then you've got things I want to achieve this week. And we literally do it as a team, there's no KPI's apart from your annual target and then monthly target is to hit lunch club, so if you hit lunch Club then we all on the first Friday of every single month we take off a half day and we go to somewhere Michelin-star in Bristol, go out for lunch and go for drinks and have the afternoon off with whoever hits. That's what we aim for, is, is our sort of lunch club target and then your annual target. Every quarter we give a bonus if you hit your quarterly target, at the end of the year if you hit your annual target you get a bonus, if you hit your stretch targets, because we give two targets, then you get even more bonus but everyone gets monthly commission as well. So the more you do, the more you earn. But in terms of KPI's there is nothing in place apart from what you set yourself on a Monday and then we reflect on a Wednesday and see where you're at and then discuss at the end of the week with line managers. And then we just move it along literally just like an agile scrum board does and that works for us, but there's not you need to make this many calls today, you need to do this many interviews, you need to do this many CVs, you know what your annual target is, you know what you need to be successful and if you need support them we're here.
J: Do you progress the kind of rewards, so monthly to quarterly to annually, is that like so they get progressively better?
A: So I'll give you example, so 0-10,000 pound is 10%, ten to twenty twenty thousand pound is twenty percent, twenty grand over is 30%, if you do 50 grand in a month you get a naught point two five percent bonus, at the end of the year you get five percent bonus based on everything you've done that year. So yeah, depending on how much you do, yes the more you do the more you get so.
And the more you get taxed because attack fan yeah horrible person so you do
J: So we discussed there about how you set goals your team, how do you set goals for yourself, is it the same or is it...?
A: It's a very good question actually and what I haven't thought about until I read that earlier saying you're gonna ask that question... right now it's just to get the best out of all the team, so it's not like specific goals, I mean I've got my goals like with WomenRock and what I want to achieve, my own goals come every single day, because if I've got a new client I want to get, say for example I say, 'I want to get three CVs and I try to do this every single day'. So I set my own goals probably every single day to say what I want to achieve that day, rather than me as a co-founder, because our jobs as co-founders aren't the same as everyone else's, it could be I'm getting pulled off to do this that. I'm setting every single day, but I have my very good friend Georgie, she's an agile coach at Ovo and she came in and 'Agiled' my life to make me set more goals and be able to actually achieve them rather than driving myself mad that I've got a list of a hundred things to do, and I've got a new thing now where I write a to do list on a Monday, well Friday afternoon for the Monday so I don't forget, and then what I do every single day is I only take two things over from the day before the things that I'll still have the list because I'm too much for control freak to get rid of it, but I take it over to the two days because anything that was left that hasn't been done isn't really that important. But then at the end of the week I have it just to go I should have really paid my credit cards and things like that but yeah I try and take two things over every single day and that works for me and that's my own little goal setting. But yes just the achievements of SR2 are my goals and doing recruitment well really, a bit cheesy but it's true.
H: So we're going onto performance as I guess, so what would you do when you have employees which is underperforming?
A: We haven't had it just yet so it's really hard and I'm not a manager, even though I'm a co-founder my role isn't to manage, because I'm not very good manager, I've got other skills but Nate is the manager. But we do monthly one to ones with everyone. apart from obviously the founders, but everyone gets monthly one-to-one to discuss where there at against their annual target, what they achieved last month what they need support on and we just literally shape it towards that individual. I said we haven't got anyone on like performance development plans or things like that just yet. Of course will that happen? Yes, but I mean it's quite hard to just say right now how we would because we haven't got to that stage where someone's there to say, 'we need to really discuss about your performance'. We track targets, we've got access to like the phone stats and everything as founders and we can see, they've only been on the phone for a little bit today, no wonder why they haven't got to where they need to be, but we're not on their case about that, but again it's a hard because we haven't been there, I can't really speak too much about that side of things.
J: We talked about the state recruitment in the future from where its been, to where it is now, to where it is in the future. So what do you think the skillset of a tech recruiter will be in say five years time?
A: What skills?
J: The skill set of say an employee you have now to an employee you'll having in five years time.
A: it'll probably be a bloody robot won't they. No I don't think we're gonna get taken over by robots, there's a couple of conferences that say recruiters are going to be taken over by robots, no they're not. I think obviously, we've only begun for two years and we want to continue to grow, so our plan is to get to sixty employees in the next five years so we're gonna be hiring massively, so I'd say if I say in the next three is what's a good recruiter look like? They're probably, there's some really good recruiters in Bristol and we'd love to get some more experienced people, so I think with more experienced people, comes with a whole range of backgrounds and ways of doing recruitment so it's really hard to say that properly. What we'd like is some really good experience recruiters, who as I said have got a different way of doing things maybe to us, because we've always found as we all work together for about five years, so our way of doing it is our way; even though everyone that we've got isn't straight out of university, they've got some sort of experience whether it's been three, six, ten years. That is such a hard question, I don't know. Just not a robot I'd like it them not to be a robot.
N: Have you created workplace policies as you grow your team? As you grow now, do you have an employee handbook or a leave policy for example?
A: So yeah, when it was just us four, I mean our contract was there and we just put it down on paper, all signed, yep go, let's go and do this. Then on day one went 'what have we done?' We've got an office manager now she is absolutely amazing, she's not a HR manager, we outsource our HR to get it all done, because you don't need one when you're that small. We've got like full contracts, I mean that includes sort of an employee handbook that has got all of that but yeah everything's in place now from sick pay, to their pensions and everything. We've got obviously our payroll, we use Atachi for quite a lot of stuff to do with our contractors. Everything's in place now, it probably, after about six months we started getting everything in place when we needed to hire basically. I think when Darcey came on, she was number five we didn't have anything then, but then when Jack was on board we started to go, 'okay let's go and lets do this now'.
N: As the team grows, have you seen your responsibilities change because obviously you are a master recruiter, but have you seen like moving on to more of like managing the rest of the people? Not as people but setting the strategy for...
A: Yeah a hundred percent and we like, me and the boys and as co-founders we've got our own WhatsApp group, I mean we never turn it off, it's going off all the time and we speak about so much on WhatsApp, but yeah a hundred percent like from just being heads down to get money in, to actually allowing us, we obviously took, we are completely self-funded took out a loan to start the business so that was always over our head that we needed to pay that off to then enable us to grow. But 100 percent, responsibilities I mean, we were sort of going, we still are going through those growing pains that you get bringing in personalities and different levels of experience, us still being hands-on and being, needing to bring in money, to then someone being in your ear all the time going can you help me with this, can you help me with that and you just like try not to throttle them sometimes! That growing pains has been I think you can tell the growing pains after three months and not that, not in terms of revenue or anything like that just the different personalities, we're in our office now which only fits 12 people were at 12. It's a small office, it's been summer, it has been hot, we're looking to moving offices in a week's time, but even things like that. So there's definitely been, yeah, the last three months you can just feel the change and everyone's responsibilities is changing with Nate going into management, my role potentially changing and obviously bringing on office managers and then Chris always did quite a lot of the back-office stuff and his job is going to change. Steve is about to have a baby so everything's just like a bit 'woo', but that's exciting and that's what startup life is about. It's embracing change.
H: What about your actual recruitment process yourself at SR2?
A: So normally a beer over at BrewDog is usually what happens, either at lunch or after work. We normally sit down see whether you're a good fit, have a chat and then if, normally its with, depending on who it is and where they're going to sit, it's normally with two of us and definitely the founders first of all. If I got a really good vibe then they'll come in have another chat with one of us and then take some of the team away, they'll go for lunch or go and sit on the roof and have a chat with quite a few people and it's usually them getting to know us more than us getting to know them because we can... recruitment in Bristol is so... what's the right word... incestuous, so everyone knows everyone we've all been in recruiting for a long time so we know a lot of people, so we normally know the people that we want and we're like going after them a little bit and it's more them getting to know us so it's actually more us selling. And it's the same with companies in Bristol now because it is about you selling to them, not them necessarily selling to you and so they're more going: 'okay can you tell me about this'. They're keeping us on our toes you know so it's very very informal, we don't do any sort of personality profiles or like get them on the phone or anything like that we just, we just know and we we've made one on to your mistakes on people, one left to be a chef because he wanted to be a chef and he's absolutely loving life as a chef. Another guy that we hired just wasn't right and he moved down to Bournemouth, so we are going to make mistakes but on hiring people it's worked for us and we've got some really good people.
J: Following on from that, your onboarding process do you follow a similar kind of informal process or is there certain structure?
A: Come in 10 o'clock ten till quarter to eleven like all HR, fire exits, show around the building, the whole thing. Go through brand trailers and videos that we go through normally they've they've watched them but normally takes 45 minutes. Then normally like LinkedIn and getting all their systems set up making sure they can log in everything. Then usually like three of us go out for lunch and just everyone gets free lunch on their first day. All go out for lunch and then afternoon normally just sit in the cafe and one person goes up one by one and just literally sit for however long and just get to know and talk through your markets and what you do and thats day one. Day two crack on.
J: So it's kind of blend of informal and kind of process.
A: Thats kind of onboarding, it's still pretty chilled I mean sat on the roof in a hammock the roof having a cider.
H: Ah, the dream! If we had a roof.
A: The roof doesn't get used as much as you think. You think it's a great thing you're like 'oh yeah the dream'... I've been up on it once this year.
J: We wrote an ice breaker article so which one do you want to use last time?
H: We used the one... how many versions of yourself would it take to take down a lion... like cloned?
A: How many versions of myself... why cloned, why not me?
H: Well you could take down a lion by yourself? How would you do it?
A: Go for the throat. I just jump on his back I'd like just hook myself under and suffocate and then just like squeeze. I'm quite small and I'm quite like sturdy, I think I just it would just run with me.
J: If you were to describe yourself as a pizza, which pizza would you be and why?
A: Do you know what, that is so funny that you asked that. Every time I train and I say to the team on Monday, 'think about pizza'. Okay so, oh god this is so hard, and I love pizza, I just had one for lunch and I had a 20 incher on my own. So if I was a pizza I'd be, I know I'm gonna get so... I'd be a Hawaiian. Why? Because it's really controversial. And I love a pineapple pizza, love it, and I don't know why people don't like it because it is really nice.
J: I've kind of grown into it, I used to hate it, I can understand now why you like it, I'm still not crazy about it.
A: I like it when the hams really burnt. I'd like to throw a couple of mushrooms on there.
J: I'd definitely have mushroom over pineapple.
A: Oh no I love the pineapple.
J: Oh thank you very much!
A: You are very welcome, thank you!