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Collaborating to improve recruitment processes

On Thursday 22nd November TALiNT Partners held its first Good Recruitment Benchmark Summit at the Brewery in London. At the event, the first Good Recruitment Benchmark Report was released. The Good Recruitment Benchmark assessment was launched in partnership with the Recruitment & Employment Confederation to provide organisations with the opportunity to benchmark their talent acquisition performance with other companies.

The assessment covers companies’ recruitment and talent acquisition processes and covers eight key areas from employer brand to diversity and inclusion. The aim of the assessment is to enable companies to improve their recruitment process and resourcing activities. The assessment is completely confidential and respondents can compare their results to aggregated market data, using a maturity model. So far, the assessment has had input from 900 users. Ken Brotherston, managing director of TALiNT Partners, revealed that  respondents had been using the benchmark to highlight what needs improving in their business. Kevin Green, chairman of the Good Recruitment Benchmark, emphasised that everyone is aware that they currently haven’t got everything right, but are expressing a desire to improve on where they currently are.

Following lunch and welcome introductions from Brotherston and Green, the room split into two different streams, each focusing on four of the assessment areas. Stream A covered the candidate experience, supply chain management, diversity and inclusion and onboarding. Stream B covered employer brand, recruiting effectiveness, engaging with youth and graduate talent, and employment flexibility. Each session was made up of a short presentation, followed by the opportunity to discuss the topic in more detail in smaller groups.

Candidate experience

In Stream A, Iain Wills from job ad search engine Adzuna and Claire Holness from Ericsson ran the first session on the topic of candidate experience. The Good Recruitment Benchmark Report revealed most respondents felt there was room to improve in this regard, especially as only 70% of unsuccessful job candidates typically received a rejection message.

Wills stressed that the rise of smart phones and social media had been a game changer for the job market as well as consumer behaviour. As consumers and candidates, people wanted five things: choice, speed, control, personalisation and relevance. Technological solutions such as chatbots were helping to meet the challenge, but the big question was what happened to the 99% of applicants who were unsuccessful?  A good experience for as many applicants as possible ultimately helped a business as candidates would be more likely to:

  • Reapply
  • Remain as customers
  • Reinforce the brand
  • Refer a friend
  • Re-enter the talent pool

Holness agreed that the candidate experience was comparable to other big life decisions such as buying a new home; there was a process of awareness and engagement, and it was up to the company to provide an end-to-end experience that is person specific.

Following the presentation, groups broke into round table groups to discuss how recruiters could focus on what really mattered; there was agreement that candidate experience needed to be more responsive and personalised.

Action points

  • Recruiters need to view candidates as consumers and potential brand ambassadors, regardless of whether they get the job
  • Companies should develop clear guidelines on the communication level appropriate at each stage of the hiring process

Supply chain management

Tom Hadley, the director of policy and professional services at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, facilitated the session about how companies can effectively manage their supply chain. He said while evaluation of success had traditionally been based on numbers, there was a shift towards placing greater value on quality in job hires. He recommended five key strategies:

  • Integrate suppliers within overall workforce planning and talent acquisition
  • HR functions need to be more assertive about quality of hire and defining the process
  • Organisations need to extend their line of sight beyond first-tier suppliers
  • Organisations, specifically resourcing teams, need a method by which to review, evaluate and test suppliers
  • There is space for organisations to position candidate experience and satisfaction as a central contractual obligation with suppliers

Hadley then asked guests to use the round table discussion to discuss the types of supply chain models they were using, the challenges they faced and what was working for them. It was evident from these talks that there was no one-size-fits-all model. While the Good Recruitment Benchmark Report found only agencies on a PSL and recruitment system providers are effectively managed, one guest described how PSLs were too prescriptive for their large organisation, while others debated the pros and cons of niche suppliers.

Action points

  • Organisations need to place a greater emphasis on quality of hire, and adopt assessment methods which reflect this
  • Regardless of the supply model used, there needs to be transparent, effective, on-going communication between suppliers and in-house talent acquisition  

Diversity and inclusion

Simon Blockley, the managing director of workforce solutions group Guidant Global, gave an insight into how his company is driving inclusion and cultural change through their INfluence initiative. Launched in March, the project has involved a top-down and bottom-up approach, including leadership activities and workshops; a guarantee that every disabled person who meets the job criteria will be granted an interview; gay staff making videos of their coming out stories, and the setting up of employee ambassador groups for working parents, BAME, social mobility, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities.

Blockley said the key insights so far included the importance of really listening to employees to give them ownership of the programme; making inclusion a strategic priority from executive level down to drive cultural change; and not being afraid to involve outside experts. He acknowledged that political correctness could be a significant stumbling block – people were often afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.

In wider discussion among guests, there was agreement that one of the key barriers to implementing a successful D&I plan was motivated leadership. A show of hands indicated many of those present did not think companies were making swift enough strides towards more inclusive recruitment processes and working environments.

Action points

  • D&I needs to be a strategic priority at all levels, from C level to talent acquisition, recruitment and hiring
  • As well as measuring the talent coming into and existing within an organisation, companies need to review their measures regularly to ensure they are still relevant

The fourth Stream A session of the afternoon discussed effective onboarding, using the prism of a case study.  Hugh Fordham and Karen Nicholson Jones described how their company Hollaroo worked with large professional services organisation Capgemini to measurably improve the experience of new starters, and reduce attrition.

Hollaroo realised that many new starters had little interaction with the company between the time they received an offer and their first day on the job. Also, the existing two day induction programme was expensive.

Hollaroo introduced a new three step initiative: BeReady, which includes a personalised portal that candidates could access on demand to find out more about Capgemini and connect with other new starters before Day One; BeInspired, which includes a one day face to face induction, a VP welcome and an executive panel Q &A; and MyCapgemini, involving business specific induction events and regular satisfaction surveys. As a result, candidate satisfaction increased from 75% to 90%, and there was a 50% reduction in attrition.

During the round table discussions that followed, several guests agreed that an interactive portal, which new starters could access at their leisure, was a step forward. However, there was a lack of consensus about who should own the onboarding process – talent acquisition, HR or line management.

Action points

  • Companies need to decide what part of the organisation owns responsibility for onboarding

Companies should work to identify and plug communication gaps in their processes, from time of offer to the first months in the job

Employer brand

In Stream B, Duncan Miller from Saba-Lumesse and Peter Hogg from Schneider Electric ran the first session focussing on employer brand. Hogg reflected on Schneider Electric’s employer brand journey, which started in 2014. The company began with eight pillars that made up their employer value proposition (EVP) including ‘meaningful purpose’ and ‘high performance culture’, but after three years decided this needed to be simplified. Their next EVP with based on insight from employees and was made up of three words, ‘meaningful, inclusive and empowered’.

Hogg stressed that the company is still very early in its employer brand journey, but this has been helped recently by a graduate project it has been running, where graduates, in addition to their day job, consider the company’s employer brand and how to develop this. He highlighted that this helps them to develop skills beyond their job’s ordinary remit while also helping the company. So far, graduates have created videos sharing what life is really like at Schneider Electric and have also created localised job specifications. Social media is also key and as a result of their increased presence on social media have seen a rise in people visiting the company’s career page.

Following the presentation, groups discussed their greatest challenges when it came to employer branding. These included managing the skills and resource gap, building a brand in different locations, whether to have separate consumer and employer brands and the impact of external factors on business.

Recruiting effectiveness

The second session was run by John Wallace, author of Hire Power, who focused on recruiting effectiveness. He began by discussing how performance management is weak in many HR departments. Attracting and retaining talent is also a challenge for CEOs, highlighting that this is an important issue, but one that currently many companies aren’t executing effectively. There are three main areas the should be considered when hiring: Time, cost and quality, but often, it is just the first two that are assessed. Currently, many companies that use metrics to assess hires only focus on the first two.

Wallace then asked the audience what could be done to improve recruiting effectiveness, and what measures we should be looking at. Suggestions ranged from measuring to see if increased levels of diversity improve performance, to using predictive analytics or certain promotional targets dependent on achieving certain goals. Wallace stressed that the most important thing to consider is the long-term plan of the business when considering recruitment – what will ‘good’ look like in three years’ time?

Engaging with youth talent

Following a networking break, Faye Woodhead from Deutsche Bank and Michelle Craig from JobTeaser focused on the topic of engaging with youth and graduate talent. Woodhead began by explaining that every company has a brand and it is important for hires to believe in your company’s vision. Disruption happens in every generation, but technology has accelerated this. The latest generation to hit the workplace is Gen Z, which Woodhead described as being digital natives that are more savvy, worried they won’t be developed and concerned by debt. To attract these younger workers, companies need to go where the talent is – online, but also remain authentic and use employees to highlight their brand.

Craig revealed that Gen Z will outnumber millennials by 2019. For this generation, diversity is the new norm. They want a personalised experience, are globally minded and culturally aware. Values and peer opinion are also highly regarded among this generation in addition to work life integration. Considering the impact of technology on Generation Z, Craig shared that they are more private on social media and are self-learners who have always had access to information. They encourage social mobility and are keen on visual communications, particularly videos. When asked, 80% of Gen Z revealed that they have researched a company’s culture, and 78% said that company culture influences whether they complete an application for a role with that business.

Groups were then asked to discuss what they should be doing to support and welcome this new generation into the workplace. One suggestion was reverse mentoring, where Gen Z help older generations with things such as new technology. Other suggestions included embracing apprenticeships, using more videos and giving them more access to careers information.

Employment flexibility

The final discussion in the breakout stream was around employment flexibility, which was led by Emma-Kate Fletcher and Amy-Lou Osborn, who are both ambassadors for Mummyjobs. They stressed that flexible working isn’t a thing for the future, it is a thing for now. There are currently 4.3 million skilled and unskilled parents at home, unable to work as they don’t have access to flexible work. Research suggests that people who work reduced hours are 20% more productive than their full-time colleagues. Despite being in the office less, or working from home, employers also have high levels of respect and commitment from flexible workers. In a time when there is a war for talent, it is also a way for employers to retain workers they would otherwise lose.

For the discussion element of the session, attendees were asked to share their flexible working issues. One question revolved around how to make job shares work, with a possible solution being that job sharers work one day together to ensure nothing gets missed. There was also a strong emphasis on the need to trust workers, wherever they’re working from. Fletcher and Osborn said that flexible working should be discussed at interview, and if a company goes down the flexible working route, technology is key. For any business, wherever it is with its flexible working journey, it’s important to assess where you want to go next, and where you want the organisation to be when it comes to flexible working.

The final presentation of the day came from keynote speaker, Lord Holmes of Richmond, MBE. He focused on improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace. He highlighted that we currently have the tools to do this, we just need to know how to use them in the best way. It’s also vital, no matter what sector you’re in, to have role models to influence this change. Holmes stressed that diversity and inclusion affects everyone and so we need to create an environment that is inclusive. He closed by sharing that implementing change isn’t easy, but it is possible; it’s all about enabling this and being the change you want to see in the world – change happens because someone believes things could be other that they currently are.

The event closed with networking drinks, which allowed attendees to continue discussions around topics raised during the event. The Good Recruitment Benchmark assessment will reopen in February 2019. To register to be kept informed, head to

With contribution from Dawn Gibson at Dawn Creative Media and Becky Wilson from Recruitment International

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