Rodrigo Martín

President of Randstad Spain

“Employees must assess whether they are gaining in employability. If they aren’t, then they should start looking for something else”

Do people confuse temporary work with precarious work?

Purely due to our climate, Spain’s economy by its nature needs temporary labor to a much greater extent than northern European countries, for example. This temporary work has to be managed properly in order to ensure that it does not become precarious. I see a lot of temporary contracts—in fact, I see plenty within my own organization—that provide a great deal of value to the people that hold them. During the course of one or various temporary contracts, they can gain training and experience, and they can invest in their own employability. Such contracts have a social value, and the employee might feel identified with a particular project, or benefit from human contact, and so on. But I also know of many temporary positions that do not offer such circumstances. These days, whether it’s part of their ethos or not, enterprises like mine are obliged to invest the equivalent of some 1.25 percent of the total payroll in their training, and this is something that has to be proven at the end of each year. We are the only sector in Spain that is obliged to do this.

Attracting and retaining talent is essential. How can it be achieved?

They are two different things, but they are strongly linked. In fact, in modern companies we have plans for talent retention that follow the employee engagement approach, which is designed to generate commitment to our company’s project, our management values, etc. We also have to attract talent, whether in order to grow or because we haven’t actually managed to retain our talent and there’s staff rotation. We are working very hard at the moment on something that I really believe in, and that’s “job attitude.” It is necessary to really empower people in order to ensure that they have a bond with their project. And this can be done at all levels, both in highly qualified jobs and in less qualified jobs. In order to attract talent, we have to let people know what it is that they will be contributing with their small task to the product of the enterprise or the country as a whole.

Is that the key to employability?

What worker has job security? A worker who currently has a job? Or someone who is highly employable? Workers that don’t have a high level of employability aren’t particularly well protected by having a permanent contract. What is going to guarantee you a steady income? Your skills, your employability. In short, you need to be capable of contributing value, of contributing something to your organization beyond what you cost them. Those that seek security need to have an ongoing plan to build up their own employability. My main piece of advice for employees in organizations is that they assess whether they are gaining in employability. If they are not, then they should start looking for something else. In Spain, recently we have been experiencing high rates of what I consider to be excessive company loyalty. We have gone through a very severe crisis in which a great many jobs have been lost, and people are still terrified of losing their jobs. When the labor market accelerates a little bit, as is already happening at the moment, the disengagement that can be found among people at all levels of their organizations is going to generate very high staff rotation in businesses. In fact, studies we have carried out show that approximately 40 percent of employees across Spain are already looking for new jobs. Staff rotation among organizations is a very good thing up to a point. But if it is excessive, it is a very bad thing. This is an issue that worries me a great deal. And we tell businesses, employers, that they should have been working on this for some time already.