Supporting Migrant Workers

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David PRice
David Price: "A well-prepared, well-supported worker is better motivated and more productive"

Adjusting the recruitment process to migrant workers, a case study by David Price, Director of Anglo-Polish

Established in 2005, Anglo-Polish is one of the UK’s fastest growing recruitment companies, specialising in placing Polish workers into the construction and demolition sectors. Based in London, half of their eight office staff are also Polish nationals. Managing director David Price describes the company’s comprehensive support programme for migrant workers.

What I did

Start with the basics

“We have around 200 migrant workers on our books at any one time, the majority recruited from Poland, but also some from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia and Portugal. Our clients, on whose behalf we recruit migrant workers, value the high skill levels and work ethic of the candidates we provide.“

“We have a rigorous selection process, including interviews, aptitude tests, skills and language evaluation as well as reference and qualification checking – if you don’t find the right candidate to start with, support systems alone aren’t going to turn them into the employee you need.“

“Once we’ve selected a candidate, one of the first things we do is help them get the paperwork in order. As well as meeting legal requirements, it’s a good way to establish a rapport. We manage workers’ applications for the Home Office Workers Registration Scheme and their National Insurance Numbers with HM Revenue and Customs. We also help them to set up bank accounts before they begin work, as the process can be daunting and can create payroll problems for the business.”

Provide appropriate training

“While our workers are selected for their existing skills, we also arrange additional training, which is assessed by our health and safety manager, especially in high risk areas such as asbestos removal. Where an employee has existing qualifications, we always check that they are recognised in the UK and we assess whether top-up training is required. You can’t afford to assume that a qualification is transferable between countries.“

“We also provide language training through an external provider to improve English language skills, where necessary, which is free to all workers.”

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Extend support beyond the workplace

“It’s part of our company policy to provide structured support systems, because we’ve learnt that a well-prepared, well-supported worker is better motivated and more productive. Every site has an experienced team leader to help any new workers integrate. But this support goes well beyond the workplace.“

“For example, we maintain contacts with local accommodation providers so that we can provide a list of options for new workers, and in many cases we make the bookings or even provide accommodation. We also provide a range of practical information about everyday living, such as how to use local transport. It all adds up to a few less things that a worker has to worry about on arrival, which translates into an employee who is focused on the job and ready to hit the ground running.”

Good business sense

“We recognise that our workers are amongst the best because they are productive and well motivated and that means happy clients.”

 

What I’d do differently

Don’t smother them with help

“While it’s crucial to provide support to migrant workers, and let them know that help is available if they need it, you can unwittingly disempower them if you overdo it. When we first started, we probably “hand held” a bit too much. We’ve gradually learnt how to achieve a balance.”

Put a co-ordinator in place sooner

“We now have a trained and dedicated co-ordinator, a Polish national, who manages the front-line needs of our migrant workforce and helps them with any issues they may have. He undertakes weekly site visits to deal with any issues before they escalate. We have always had dedicated staff to deal with workers’ issues, but having a co-ordinator visit each site and deal with issues on the ground has been extremely useful. Looking back, it is something we should have done sooner.”

 

David’s top tips:

  1. “Pay the market rate for the job and don’t try to undercut the salaries of existing employees.”
  2. “Don’t forget the little things, such as remembering birthdays, to make migrant workers feel part of the team.”
  3. “Be aware that the best migrant workers are always in demand – if you don’t support them properly, they’ll simply leave.”

 www.anglo-polish.com

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