Jetting 59 million+ passengers to 270 destinations each year is an increasingly complex operation and requires some of the top talent. With a portfolio comprising Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports, the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) looks to its 40,000 strong team to not only keep passengers moving around the clock, but to drive efficiency, service quality, growth, and mitigate operational issues.
Initially contracted to source engineering skillsets in response to MAG’s evolving needs, it quickly became apparent to Morson International that what the Group required was support identifying the right professional services talent. Spanning HR, procurement, legal and more, the sky is the limit for the UK’s leading recruiter, as it’s fully embedded within MAG’s operations to deliver cost efficiencies and attract talent to essential roles, both within the operation and group services, and to support the delivery of the transformation programmes at both Manchester and Stansted Airports. During the four-year contract to date, Morson International has filled more than 750 interim vacancies for the leading Airports Group.
Jacqui Jones, Head of Interim Recruitment at MAG for Morson International, explains:
“We’re considered as part of the MAG team, to the point where we’re included in the Group’s headcount, team meetings and staff away days.
“As with any new contract, the initial challenge is to build our profile from within so that we’re seen as a true extension of the team, rather than us and them. Internal managers quickly recognised the value that we delivered to the business and the number of new vacancies rocketed.”
In response to the growing mix of permanent and interim needs, Morson International’s MAG team grew from two to six on-site recruitment experts to meet the growing demand. Jacqui’s colleague and fellow Head of Interim Recruitment, Sara Jackson, was also seconded into the role of Head of Recruitment at MAG whilst a permanent candidate was found.
Shortly into the contract, Morson International won a competitive tender to support MAG’s core vetting services. Based at the recruiter’s head office in Salford, the vetting team report directly to MAG’s head of vetting and are responsible for delivering robust checks and clearing new staff to Civil Aviation Authority standards.
As part of MAG’s wider transformation programme, the business implemented a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) platform, leveraging the latest SAP technology so that its IT capability would support efficient and scalable growth. The challenge for Morson International was the availability of SAP skills, especially as MAG became the first ever organisation to adopt the full cloud-based end-to-end solution.
“SAP skillsets are rare and are usually only found in the South of England. We were competing in the same talent pool with businesses worldwide and had the added barrier in that we needed to attract the talent up north. This wasn’t without its difficulties, but by utilising the Morson Group’s wider technical abilities, we were able to develop an attractive interim package and source the best candidates.”
Delivering a successful RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) has meant the Morson International team needed to remain agile and respond to MAG’s changing recruitment needs.
“Some of our larger counterparts are far too rigid in how they work. We’ve always prioritised client service and go the extra mile to maintain great relationships. If we need additional support to deliver our promises then we’ll recruit it, bucking the norm in recruitment where if an account makes you £X amount of money then you can recruit X many people to work on it.”
In response to a major period of growth and a £80m investment programme to transform Stansted Airport’s terminal building, Morson International then appointed a dedicated account manager to manage the growing number of vacancies for the individual Airport. Historically, few vacancies were recruited for Stansted following the Airport’s acquisition by MAG in 2013. Yet in 2017, Morson International filled a quarter of MAG’s annual vacancies at Stansted Airport.
Notable hires for Morson International include recruiting the ‘head of’ and ‘director’ for the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) and MAG’s construction director. Utilising a number of targeted recruitment tactics, including dedicated search specialists, bespoke landing pages, print advertising in leading political and national news outlets and market mapping, saving MAG £thousands in search fees.
Prior to Morson International’s appointment, interim recruitment activities were fragmented and there was little awareness of the volume of temporary staff working on site. Taking the recruitment responsibilities away from the line managers and centralising it in a single department and system is now priceless for MAG. At the touch of a button, the recruitment team can now analyse key management information, including spend, worker profiles, numbers and attrition rates.
“The small details matter to us and throughout the contract, we’ve consistently gone above and beyond the roles that we’ve been asked to fill in order to add real value.
“We also supported the business during its launch of MAG USA in June 2015, which aims to become the ‘go-to’ source for market-leading commercial solutions in airports that transform customer experiences. We developed a flexible recruitment model that complies with the varying employment laws within every US state and supported the development of a compelling EVP (employer value proposition) and employer brand for MAG USA."
Some of the key innovations that Morson International has introduced during its tenure with MAG include an online timesheet system that reduced admin time for hiring managers. Management information reports tailored to HR and procurement requirements were also delivered, as well as precise one-page flash reports that aligned to strategic objective outputs. In addition, Morson provided a variety of process communication tools and a project-based RPO specifically for security performance leads.
The wider Morson team also supported MAG’s exciting new digital agency, MAG-O. Complete with its own MD and HR director, the division is on a mission to disrupt and develop new e-commerce platforms that will transform the way people travel and generate new revenue streams.
“MAG-O is at the cutting edge of innovation and its senior team are passionate about recruiting the best forward-thinking minds. We’ve been challenging and changing the perception that Morson is this ‘corporate’ beast and demonstrating our abilities in delivering top tech talent. We’ve even appointed a dedicated MAG-O account manager to work one-on-one with this growing team."
“We share MAG’s drive and vision, which combined with our expert recruitment capabilities and understanding of an airport’s essential needs, have helped to deliver more sustainable, competitive and profitable operations."
“Morson’s journey with MAG doesn’t stop here. In addition to continuing our support, we’re also in advanced discussions around how we can help to manage their second-tier suppliers and volume blue-collar staff, which includes meet and greet car park operatives and lounge staff.”
Sarah McGuire, Group Head of Recruitment (non-volume) at MAG, added:
“Working with Morson can only be described as ‘collaborative’; our on-site account team are truly part of the in-house recruitment function at MAG and have developed strong relationships across the HR team and hiring manager community with a focus on delivery at all times."
“We have been through a number of operating and process changes over the past 12 months, with Morson proactively adopting, supporting and championing those changes. As a recruitment team, including volume hiring, non-volume hiring and interim solutions, we have on-boarded more than 3,000 people across our airports and the Morson service has been invaluable to achieving this. This hybrid recruitment model, which works extremely well, has delivered many benefits including reduced cost, increased MI and greater governance since implementing this four years ago, with further benefits to come as we move into a new phase of transformation at MAG.”