Schools may be closed for the summer, but facilities teams at universities across the country consider this one of the most important times of the year—hiring season. Summer is a critical time for recruitment. Seth Ferriell, CEO of SSC Services for Education, reveals how his team is helping customers find the right staff to deliver best-in-class facility service to maintain beautiful and safe spaces year-round. Ferriell shares insights on how SSC has adapted its recruiting process and become a more flexible employer.
It’s summer—most students and faculty are home. Why is hiring right now so critical?
As students end the school year and head to summer vacations and jobs, our work to prepare for the next school year begins. During the summer, we have almost complete access to classrooms and campuses without disturbing students and teachers.
Our “Summer Clean” initiative includes cleaning, maintenance/repair, and project work. Cleaning includes everything from deep cleaning classrooms and dorm rooms to waxing hallways and shampooing carpets. Repairs range from replacing blinds and shower curtains to painting walls and repairing HVAC equipment. Our project work ranges from remodeling entire buildings to replacing athletic fields. All of these tasks are labor intensive and absolutely essential in maintaining the safety and cleanliness of our campuses year-round.
Many of our colleges also host camps throughout the summer and our team is responsible for preparing the dorms for each new group that arrives on campus. In some cases, the dorms could turn as many as three to four times a week.
What are some of the most important things to do or consider during the recruitment process?
Potential employees always have a wide array of choices for where to go to work, but never more so than the current environment. All employers—not just in our industry—need to sell a candidate on the position and the company more so than the candidate needs to sell themselves to us.
It is important that our application process is easy. In today’s job market, a long-winded process could cost a company good candidates.
Another successful tactic is to take the time to share the history of your organization and describe the culture and why this position matters. At SSC, candidates are eager to learn they will become an important part of the school or college and will be a welcomed, valued, respected and well-trained member of the team.
Post-COVID-19, employers need to be more flexible than ever before. Employees want—demand—flexible schedules that meet their families’ needs in this ever-changing age. In the past, we had full-time and part-time positions for five days a week. Now, we’re hiring candidates who can only work two days a week. Some candidates, such as retirees, stay-at-home moms, or college students, have limited availability but want to earn some extra spending money. Once we began to explore candidate pools for these flexible positions, we began to see how many people we could reach and how beneficial the process was.
How are you supporting hiring efforts for your partners?
We’re thrilled to be offering our partners a new program we developed called “No Vacancy,” which is a roadmap to our Fall 2022 Hiring Plan. We are hyper-focused on hiring for current summer vacancies and laying the groundwork for back-to-school hiring. Each hiring manager has access to a robust library of content that can be customized to each market and need, including a recruiting checklist, flyers, a guide to hosting a successful job fair, community engagement tools, postcard templates, and retention ideas. We have also created video tutorials for our managers to help guide them through the recruiting process. Our HR and Talent Acquisition team, along with our marketing team, are hosting weekly calls to review applicant flow and support locations that need additional sponsored ads to boost candidate engagement.
Pay is always important, but current and potential employees want additional benefits that support their lifestyle and work/life balance. Over the last year, we’ve offered our employees—who I call our facility service heroes—additional paid time off (PTO); participation in several programs that encourage attendance, such as Work & Win; and cash bonuses and prizes. Another popular benefit is same-day pay. Many candidates want to know when they can access their paychecks.
Diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of our operations. We partner with local job coaches, unemployment offices, U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA) offices, churches, adaptive needs programs, and other community organizations to promote a diverse and inclusive team throughout the country.
What kind of candidates tend to be the most successful within your company?
We are a people company. Candidates with a positive attitude who enjoy being a part of their community and making a difference are perfect for our team. Whether it’s in a classroom or on the soccer field, our students and parents always notice the difference our team members make.
The hiring strategy we’ve adapted and implemented is less about what we do, and more about who we are to our staff, clients, and communities. Because of this, we have a strong ‘raise-your-hand’ culture. We are here to help each other succeed, and that requires our teams to be made of people who want to continue to grow and learn, ask for extra training, or volunteer for new assignments. And in many instances, we find that emotional intelligence and curiosity are drivers of success, more so than years of experience.