Hays Human Resources Award for Innovation in Recruitment and Retention

Award profile: This award recognises effective approaches to selection, recruitment and retention of employees. Relevant to this category are new methods of recruiting, measuring and assessing capability and performance, career management, succession planning and competency testing. The shortlisted organisations showed evidence of gaining competitive advantage from these strategies.


The team: People Division (Resourcing)

No. in team: 12 No. in HR function: 500 No. of employees HR is responsible for: 140,000

About the organisation
Asda is the UK’s second largest supermarket, with more than 270 stores across the UK.

The challenge

  • Recruitment process was outdated
  • Asda did not provide an accurate description of jobs so people left
  • Recruiters were cutting corners resulting in a lack of consistency
  • Feedback from the exit interviews of new starters revealed the traditional half-day induction did not give sufficient training, meaning they were too scared to go straight into their department.

What the organisation did

  • Changed induction training from six hours up front to 20 hours over the first week – at no extra cost
  • The Best Welcome induction campaign was trialled in four stores before a UK-wide roll-out, followed by the Asda Magic recruitment campaign
  • The process was designed to run from the first contact with Asda to completion of the first 12 weeks, showcasing the core Asda values: ‘Respect for the individual’; ‘Strive for excellence’; ‘Service to our customers’.

Benefits and achievements

  • A significant reduction in turnover of staff with less than six months’ service to 5.76% this year from 7.5% in 2003
  • The four pilot stores for Best Welcome – Walthamstow, Hatfield, Livingston and Clapham – showed a double-digit improvement in staff turnover.

Category judge simon howard says:
“To get shortlisted in this category, it probably helps if your people strategy is ‘to get, grow and keep the best talent to achieve local and global objectives’. So the creation of the Asda Magic recruitment process and the Best Welcome induction and training scheme should perhaps not come as a surprise. Asda Magic is essentially a three-hour ‘audition’ for candidates, while Best Welcome ensures consistency across the stores. The schemes display innovation, and are supported by metrics which demonstrate that they are working for the business.”


The team: General Managers Team

No. in team: 10 No. in HR function: 13 No. of employees HR is responsible for: 700

About the organisation
A provider of residential conference centres, with eight venues across the UK.

The challenge
The company needed to slash staff turnover in the group, which was running at 80% in March 2004. To do this, the team had to improve employee commitment and motivation.

What the organisation did

  • Introduced the ‘Hayley Way’, a talent selection and performance review process based on 11 talents which all staff are expected to possess
  • Under the initiative, employees are asked a set of talent selection questions. The highest-scoring members of staff are named ‘Hayley Stars’
  • Hayley Stars spend time supporting and training new staff both in their centres and other centres
  • Staff from every centre also attend the International Association of Conference Centres annual event to learn best practice in the industry.
    Benefits and achievements
  • Group staff turnover reduced to 39% in May 2005. The company aims for a maximum turnover of 23% against an industry average of 65%-80%
  • The newest centre, in Swindon, is the first to be fully staffed using the new talent selection process. Its customer service scores have been ‘extremely’ high, despite only being open for a few weeks
  • Staff say the team-building exercises have made them feel more involved with the company and better prepared for work.

Category judge simon howard says:
“Hayley Conference Centres is far from being one of the UK’s larger employers, but there are many lessons the ‘big boys’ could learn from the Hayley approach to recruitment and retention. In a sector traditionally plagued by high staff turnover rates, this team has created a comprehensive and detailed approach to all their sourcing and development activities. By including the Hayley Way and Hayley Stars, they have achieved a positive and measurable impact on the business as a whole.”

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