Battle for staff escalates as major contractors increase bounty payments for top staff

Several of the UK’s biggest contractors are introducing lucrative bonuses for staff who attract recruits, amid growing evidence of a skills crisis at management level.

Bovis Lend Lease is offering staff up to £5,000 to find recruits with skills in short supply. This fee was raised from £1,500 in early February.

Costain is planning to double its finder’s fee from £1,000 to £2,000 in March for staff who recruit people for “key roles” within the company. Others who have introduced rewards include Interserve and HBG (see box).

Carillion is also considering offering a finder’s fee, which it has not done in the past.

These rewards are evidence of the increasingly competitive poaching of senior staff between companies. The Bovis reward is equal to that of a top City law firm and outstrips that in many other industries.

Mel Williams, head of recruitment at Bovis, said: “We needed to do more to fight the talent shortage.”

It is also launching a beefed-up recruitment campaign.

At Bovis the maximum fee is offered to those who help to recruit planners, cost planners, commercial managers and project managers with design-and-build expertise. Staff who find senior recruits such as project directors, senior commercial and project managers will also be paid.

The bonus applies even to recruits found in other parts of Lend Lease, fuelling rumours of poaching between divisions.

Graham Franks, a regional director at Interserve, said he was not surprised by the moves. He said the finder’s fee at Interserve was “not dissimilar” to Bovis’ but said he would not reveal numbers for fear of sparking a price war.

He said: “£5,000 is not even as much as the cut some recruitment agencies take on a salary of, say, £33,000. They tend to take between 12% and 17%.”

The industry’s biggest payers

Bovis Lend Lease £5,000
Costain £2,000
Kier £1,500
HBG £1,500

… and how they compare with other sectors

City law firm £5,000
Media firm £1,500
Advertising agency £1,500
Call centre £500