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24/04/18


In London, build-to-rent developments are fairly common and offer an affordable housing option for those that cannot afford to buy their own homes. Yet while it is an established practice and effective way to create more affordable housing many councils in other parts of the country have been slow to adopt it. Even more concerning is that while the issue of affordable housing is often raised, Build-to-rent schemes aren’t even featured in council planning as a possible solution.

Government driving change
The National Planning Policy Framework 2012 creates provision to ensure that local councils actively plan for build-to-rent developments in areas where a need for affordable housing has been identified. Additionally government has indicated its intention to help support build-to-rent developments through a white paper targeted at developers. However, it appears this information has done little to change the focus of local councils in terms of their planning provisions.

Local councils slow to get on board
Less than half of the local London councils make any reference of build-to-rent development schemes in their emerging planning policy. There seems to be a distinct hesitancy to drive these types of developments despite there being a clear need for affordable housing and keen interest from investors willing to finance these types of developments.

When will things change?
The good news is that in the latter part of 2017 the Draft London Plan was published. The document outlines the intention to fast-track build-to-rent developments and give special dispensation so that this can be achieved. This opens up opportunities for housing construction companies in the sector to bid for build-to-rent development contracts.
A number of areas have already been earmarked as being ideal for development including Ealing and Hillingdon in the west and Greenwich and Havering to the east. This will be supported by the opening of the Elizabeth line providing transport to commuters.

An important part of getting build-to-rent projects off the ground is to change public perception. Traditionally rented communities are viewed as problematic as they often house poorer tenants who bring with them social issues. However, this is not always the case and with local populations expanding, and property prices becoming unaffordable for many, there is a clear need to create more affordable housing.

The question remains, will these combined efforts be enough to get build-to-rent developments off the ground in 2018?
23/04/18


According to Shelter estimates, only 816,450 units had been built out of 1,725,382 planning permissions that were granted to developers for housing between 2006 and 2014.
In a recent speech, PM Theresa May intimated that UK building contractors were to blame for this. And to back up her words outlined plans for possible sanctions that would be implemented against developers sitting on land where planning approval had already been granted but development was not taking place.

The sanctions could come in as simple a form as a land value tax on developed and undeveloped land which would serve to stimulate development. Or it could evolve into more complicated policies where compulsory purchase orders are enforced on undeveloped land, or where developers past records could count against them when seeking new planning permissions.

Are developers to blame?

Ms May’s comments cut to the heart of a very contentious issue in the building industry. On one side there is clear evidence of slow build out rates, and industry reports that reflect contractors may hold back on development in order to limit market supply and maintain market prices.

In support of this viewpoint, the 2004 Barker Review (i) highlighted that relative to other countries, housing prices in the UK are very unresponsive to new housing supply. It is believed that one of the reasons for this is a distinct lack of competition in the building industry.

There are also claims that developers are engaging in land banking, choosing to sit on land so that it appreciates in value and realizes a healthy profit in the process.

Developers claim they are misunderstood

But is it really developers that are sitting on the land? A 2014 report (ii) commissioned for the Mayor of London, reported that the bulk of the undeveloped land in London was not in fact owned by developers but rather by land traders and speculators. Additionally developers claim that they need a larger inventory of permissions in order to ensure they have enough to makes future sales and profits.

What will change if sanctions are enforced? Will it light a fire under developers to speed up building? Or will the penalties instituted do more harm than good to the industry? Either way, developers need to be aware that it won’t be business as usual and they’ll have to carefully consider their future strategies.

(i) http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/17_03_04_barker_review.pdf
(ii) https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/gla_migrate_files_destination/Barriers%20to%20Housing%20Delivery%20Update%20Report%20-%20July%202014_0.pdf
23/04/18

Londoners may soon find they are in for a bumpy ride commuting on London’s highway network. This after the joint venture between Colas, VolkerHighways and AECOM (CVU) recently announced that they will be quitting their eight year contract with Transport for London (TfL) three years early.

Billion Pound contract loses its shine
In 2013 CVU won the contract, with an estimated value of £2,6bn over the eight year framework. The contract saw CVU undertaking construction and maintenance projects in the central London region while other major players such as Ringway Jacobs & Kier and Conway AECOM secured contracts for the other areas. However, with recent government budget cuts, CVU and TfL have parted company, reportedly by mutual consent.

Budget cuts blamed, commuters to lose
The Mayor of London as well as the TfL have confirmed that all non-essential road repairs would be placed on hold, citing the lack of funding available. As it is unlikely the City of London will be able to secure funding from other sources, this is set to have a major impact on the quality of roads in and around London in the foreseeable future.

While TfL has promised to ensure the roads are kept safe, with no proactive maintenance happening, Londoners can expect delays and disruptions on their daily commute. This is most likely to come in the form of road closures as emergency repairs are carried out, as well as speed, size and weight restrictions for daily traffic.

Industry set to become more competitive
It is not only commuters that will be affected. With the CVU joint venture coming to a close, Colas, VolkerHighways and AECOM are likely to compete for major contracts in other areas. As more players enter the game, the squeeze will be on for contractors to offer more competitive pricing in order to win tenders. Cost cutting measure can be expected to filter down into all areas of the industry, affecting profit margins, efficiency, and more importantly jobs.

However it’s not all doom and gloom. While the pressure will be on commercial directors to find more efficient ways of operating, with this comes an opportunity for innovation and creative thinking. As projects seek to optimise their budgets, interim executives can showcase their unique and specific areas of expertise. Top talent that can deliver on projects, despite the industry challenges, will be in even greater demand.

If that’s you, and you’re looking for a new executive challenge, contact us today on Tel: 020 7183 0255
18/04/18

Industry reports reveal that as it reaches its budget limits (estimated to happen by December 2018) Highways England’s Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF) will be scrapped. The programme which was launched in 2014 with the objective of managing contracts relating to road maintenance and enhancements on roads in the UK, will then be replaced with the new Regional Investment Programme (RIP).

New partners and 4 year contracts

The RIP may see as many as 12 new delivery partners appointed to carry out work on road infrastructure across six different regions. Contracts will last for a period of 4 years with the possibility of extending them for a further 4 years based on performance.

The tenders will be open for joint ventures and individual companies to take on one of two Delivery Integration Partner (DIP) roles in each of the six regions. Once procured, the DIP’s will be supported by two technical advisors in each region who will co-ordinate the development and design of each project.

This new development comes as part of Highways England’s alliance model for its smart motorways model. The objective is to build a national alliance of contractors who will be able to deliver on a variety of motorway enhancements. However, the RIP excludes major projects such as the upgrade of the Lower Thames Crossing and maintenance of the A303 Tunnel.

Projects attract major role players

This new procurement model is still in the early stages of development, however, Highways England spokesperson is positive that suppliers will be able to play an active role in helping to deliver efficient and effective work and optimize project savings.

Some of the major industry role players eying the new contracts are said to include McAlpine, an established British civils firm, as well as Spanish construction giant, Acciona. McAlpine has already completed Highways England’s Strategic Alignment Review Tool process. (A requirement for contractors wanting to work with Highways England’s road enhancement or maintenance projects.)

How the projects are to be financed is still up for debate, with Treasury possibly taking private funding models into consideration. While at this stage no firm decisions have been made on the final procurement and financing plans, Highway’s England has been hosting a number of webinars and engaging with industry role players. They are confident that their procurement solution is progressing well and are positive that it will provide beneficial future partnerships.
18/04/18

Between government budget cut announcements, questions surrounding highways maintenance and housing backlogs, as well as the Carillion collapse, the construction industry has made news headlines a lot, lately.
There are calls for improvements in all areas of the industry from better procurement processes through to improving productivity, skills training and construction safety. The question is; will digital technology be the golden goose the industry needs to solve its problems? And can it be leveraged as a tool to make construction more efficient and effective?

Getting ahead or being left behind?
Digital technology is not new to the industry and benefits have already been demonstrated by early adopters. Those choosing to ignore it and go about business as usual, might well find themselves being left out in the cold when it comes to winning new contracts. Investors are well aware of the benefits that technology can offer and will be much more likely to back projects where technology assures a better return on investment.

What technologies will impact which areas of the construction industry?
The construction industry is generally is not known for productivity and efficiency and technology offers several tools to change this:

a) Data analytics
Collecting and analyzing data from past projects can help construction companies improve productivity and efficiency. By evaluating material costs and project timelines, data patterns can be mapped which will contribute to establishing best practice and improving productivity in future projects.
b) Cloud collaboration
Cloud platforms provide a convenient and efficient way to share information and collaborate with joint venture partners and subcontractors. With a central information platform it becomes easier to track processes and report on project progress as well as share relevant information with associated parties.
c) BIM
Building Information Modelling is becoming an essential part of construction management and has already become widely adopted by many main contractors. Level 2 BIM is becoming a requirement with major tenders as it’s proven to improve productivity and reduce operational costs. As technology advances more companies may expand their capabilities to include virtual reality and augmented reality to sell project concepts, and scanning and digital surveying technology to report on compliance and safety mechanisms.
The take home is that there are opportunities to use technology to overcome traditional industry stumbling blocks and in the process drive the industry to an improved level of efficiency and profitability. Will you one of the key role players to drive the change that’s needed?


18/04/18


As negotiations surrounding Brexit intensify, companies are starting to face the reality of how it will impact them. Given the free movement of labour and trade relations that the UK has enjoyed with the EU in recent decades, it’s unlikely that construction companies will remain unaffected.

UK short of skilled construction workers
A large portion of the construction industry are of an older demographic, meaning at least 500 000 workers will be coming up for retirement within the next 10 years. This will leave a large skills gap as there aren’t as many younger UK workers entering the industry and it will take a significant amount of time for them to get to the same level of expertise.
The EU has for the past two and a half decades proven to be a valuable resource of expertise – ranging from specialist artisans and tradesmen to engineers and consultants. It’s reported that EU workers make up at least 50% of construction employment in London alone. If these workers have to leave or deal with the red tape of getting work permits it will make employment more difficult and more expensive for contractors.
To exacerbate this, there appears to already be a shortage of quality skilled tradesmen, construction managers and engineers and if the EU cannot be used as a resource for these skills it will have a big impact on the industry.

Trade impacts to be felt with or without tariffs
From a cost perspective, construction companies do not need to be overly concerned as to the degree of free trade that will remain after Brexit, as tariffs on construction products are relatively low.
However, where the impact will be felt is on the delayed movement of materials and products due to new border checks that will become a requirement. Despite the ambitions of the PM to negotiate a Brexit deal that ensures ‘frictionless trade’, in reality this is unlikely to materialise. Checks will result in delays and backlogs, having a direct impact on construction timelines. It will also create new project management challenges for contractors.
The one positive, however, is that current negotiations have bought UK businesses some time with a 21 month implementation period. This effectively maintains business as usual until the end of 2020. It’s critical that contractors use this time to forecast possible challenges and prepare for the changes ahead.

26/02/18


There’s a saying that who you know matters more than what you can do, implying that relationships and business connections are often the key to opening doors for new opportunities. But can the same be said of who you are as a person? Does it really matter more than what you can do as an employee?
The question of cultural fit in recruiting is becoming increasingly important, especially when we’re talking about senior management. There’s little point in hiring someone who has all the necessary skills, if they don’t have values that align with the organization or can’t engage with their co-workers to get them to achieve the desired results. While a certain level of skills and knowledge is essential, it’s the ability to translate that into actionable results within the context of an organization that’ll determine if the person is right for company.

Three elements to match

There are times where a candidate may have most but not all the required skills for a role. However, if they’re a good fit for the organization, then their placement could be very successful. When debating this type of decision, here are three things to take into consideration:

1 – Values
Are the company values clearly defined and are they shared to attract the right kind of people? Studies show that when employee values align with company values, employees are more engaged and productive at work. A candidate’s values can be discovered by asking them what’s important to them in their career path and daily life. A good indication of this is how they’ve applied their skills and knowledge in previous roles.

2 – Goals
Is there room in the organization for the candidate to realise their personal career goals? And do their goals align with where the company is headed? If you are recruiting for change, growth or innovation, their core competencies need to be aligned with those specific areas.

3 – Personality
Senior management roles require people with a strong personality and being part of an executive team means that the candidate will need to be able to work with other strong personalities too. How will the candidate’s personality fit the role you’re recruiting for?

While a good cultural fit cannot replace expertise, as some skills are critical for senior roles, it can make an average candidate (in terms of skills) excel. Because in the right environment they can learn what they need to and grow what they know.
20/02/18


There’s something sneaking into your interviews and you’re probably not even aware of it. Yet this very thing – bias - could be preventing you from hiring the best person. Bias happens whether we want it to or not, because we’re simply programmed that way as humans.
Our experiences shape our perceptions and we do this subconsciously, boxing information into categories to better understand the world around us. Unfortunately this often leads us to make assumptions about situations, and more importantly in the hiring process, we make assumptions towards people that can influence our decision to hire them.

Human instinct is flawed

As much as instinct plays an important role in recruiting it can often tip the scales in favour of one candidate over another. We might see a certain accolade that impresses us and because of this gloss over other critical details. This is called the halo effect.
If we aren’t blinded by accolades, we could be blinded by appearances. While we hate to admit it, the reality is that more attractive looking people often become the preferred shortlisted candidates. It’s one of the reasons candidate are advised to dress up for interviews, because first impressions count. And unfortunately they can also count against a candidate if they’re nervous or don’t look or act like the interviewer expects them to.
Then there is the mirroring or mini-me effect where we are impressed by people who are similar to us, that think, act or even dress in a similar way. Some recruiters like to play it safe, choosing to hire only those people they’ve worked with before. While this is a more obvious bias, it’s quite common when it comes to recruiting for more senior positions. The reason usually cited is better the devil you know….

But you don’t “know” for sure

A 2015 CIPD[1] study on the behavioural science of recruitment cited that bias is more prevalent than most people are aware of and hiring decisions are wide open to being influenced by a wide range of factors – factors that are often unrelated to their actual ability to do the job effectively. So the next time you’re hiring, prompt yourself to venture outside those neatly ordered boxes in your mind. That might just be where you find the candidate that’s an unexpected but ideal fit for the role.

[1] https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/a-head-for-hiring_2015-behavioural-science-of-recruitment-and-selection_tcm18-9557.pdf
08/02/18




When writing your CV you need to cover your basic job responsibilities but without just mentioning the routine. Keep your duty summaries concise and try to concentrate on the results that came out of your everyday work.

So, highlight your achievements, not your duties

Achievements are things you did that had a lasting impact for your company or client. It is a result that you personally bring about while fulfilling a particular role. Typically they are things that you created, built, designed, sold or initiated. It is not the same as responsibilities that come under a job description, as these remain fixed no matter who is employed in the post.

An achievement is unique to your experience and tells the employer that you can deliver. So, keep your duty summaries concise, and focus instead on unique accomplishments.

Many people are uncertain how to express their achievements vs. responsibilities. This is because many responsibilities can often seem to be achievements and most achievements can appear to be responsibilities.

To avoid any confusion, you must focus on determining which of the experiences that you have gained through the workforce can be classified as achievements and which ones can be classified as responsibilities.

Structure of an Achievement:
An achievement consists of three components:
  1. Using a particular skill.
  2. Carrying out a particular activity
  3. Getting a measurable / quantifiable result / benefit.

The “What? / So What?” Formula
Successfully writing the achievements section of your CV is perhaps the most difficult part of your CV The simplest means of doing this is to employ the 'What?/So What?' formula, a two-step process that asks:

  • What did I do?
  • So what? What was the quantifiable result?Rather than stating that 'you were responsible for a team of 20 people', you could instead say that you 'planned, arranged and hosted a team building away day, which resulted in improved communications within the office.


Examples of Achievement Statements:

  • 3-fold increase in profit margin by implementing operational improvement plans and adopting a more commercial approach to bidding
  • Leading the successful £45M tender for the sole design and consultancy position within the industry leading @one alliance, including participation in executive team interview
  • Building strong relationships with JV partner to allow for successful negotiation of commercial issues between partners, to move to a trust based relationship, resulting in a 5 year extension to the JV
  • Leading a cultural change programme to professionalise business development including a ‘Client First’ competency programme resulting in client satisfaction improvement from 86% to 97%
  • Leading a Group ‘Water Growth Segment’ to share capability, knowledge and continuous improvements to harness the power of the 2,500 water professionals across seven countries for the benefit of clients

List of achievements
  • Re-organized something to make it work better
  • Identified a problem and solved it
  • Come up with a new idea that improved things
  • Developed or implemented new procedures or systems
  • Worked on special projects
  • Received awards
  • Increased revenue or sales for the company
  • Saved money for the company
  • Saved time for the company
  • Contributed to good customer service
18/12/17

One of the most corrosive effects on any company's success and longevity is an inability to retain good quality people. Many businesses genuinely struggle to keep hold of talented individuals once they have been recruited and embedded them within the organisation.

As a recruitment organisation, we are in a somewhat unique position at the “cutting edge” of dealing with people leaving organisations on a day-to-day basis. A common misconception is that, as a headhunting/search company, we somehow have mystical powers to “spirit” people away from blissfully happy jobs. The reality is completely different. On average, over 60% of individuals we pro-actively approach will rebuff our advances, as they are happy with their present situation. Unless there is an underlying issue there, we are unable to persuade that person to talk about moving.

The #1 biggest issue that causes staff to become unsettled and leave is communication. The most common reasons for good staff wanting to leave companies are issues such as “I feel undervalued”, “no career progression”, “worried about the companys’ future” & “someone’s been promoted above me”.

The nub of every single one of these issues is communication, or the lack of it in most cases!

It is human nature to want to know what is going on, good or bad. In most situations, not knowing anything is worse than knowing something bad is happening, as the mind is free to wildly speculate if there is no information.

So – the advice is very much to communicate to your people as much as possible, both on a macro (company) and micro (personal) level. The best employers are consistently very good at communicating to their people, helping them formulate individual career and goal plans and working with them to achieve their personal career objectives. It’s great for individual performance, makes people happy and optimises the overall performance of the business.

It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it significantly increases staff retention levels.
On a macro level, the vast majority of people want visibility as to the company's overall strategy and goals. Anyone working as part of a team will perform better and will give that extra 10% if they are clear in their understanding of the teams overall goal.

This stuff is simple, but is surprisingly rarely implemented effectively. We regularly hear stories of individuals being overlooked for promotion, so then want to move on. What’s much rarer, but is relatively easy to facilitate, is the situation where the individual accepts the decision because it is efficiently communicated with the true reasons and justifications being discussed. They may not like it, but if it’s justified and communicated then they will at least understand the decision and resentment is minimised.

To discuss this or other recruitment related issues please call Rupert on 020 7183 0255