Hays Human Resources Award for Innovation in Recruitment and Retention

Hays Human Resources, part of Hays plc, is the UK’s leading specialist HR recruitment consultancy. It successfully places people in permanent, temporary and lucrative interim jobs across the entire spectrum of generalist and HR positions.

Category judge: Simon Howard, chairman, Work Communications Howard co-founded the recruitment communications company Work Communications in 2001. He has worked in the UK recruitment industry for the past 25 years, 15 of which were spent heading up recruitment firms.


The team – Retail Resourcing Team

No. in team: 8 No. in HR function: 47 No. of employees HR is responsible for: 15,000

About the organisation
Matalan is a value clothing and homeware retailer. It has experienced rapid growth in the past decade, increasing from 50 stores in 1995 to more than 190 stores across the UK.

The challenge
In March 2004, management turnover was 58% and vacancies were running at 12%. Matalan was not considered an employer of choice for managers because of takeover speculation in the media. The recruitment team faced budget pressures and needed to cut costs by 33%. Under these terms, they had to reduce the spend-per-head from 2,200 to 1,150.

What the organisation did

  • Brought recruitment in-house with an internal recruitment agency
  • The recruitment consultants were offered a basic salary that was higher than the market rate, and a bonus for each manager recruited
  • To drive consistency and retention, the bonus was only payable on the successful completion of the candidate’s three-month probationary period, agreed at a fixed amount per placement irrespective of the candidate’s salary.

Benefits and achievements

  • 97% of vacancies are now filled
  • The recruitment team made annual savings of 275,000, including 235,000 saved on agency spend
  • Turnover of management staff is down from 58% to 14%
  • Candidate attendance for interview is up from 50% to 86%
  • 91% of job offers are accepted – up from 73% in 2004.

Category judge SIMON HOWARD says:
“It would be difficult to single out any individual component of this management recruitment programme and say ‘well that’s not been done before’. However, the sheer scope of this initiative and the flair with which it was executed make this an object lesson in what can be achieved. The programme is about a lot more than just getting the basics right, and the achievements this has generated for the business demonstrate that innovation produces bottom-line results.”


The team: The HR Team

No. in team: 15 No. in HR function: 15 No. of employees HR is responsible for: 1,662

 About the organisation
Gamestation is a video games retailer with 230 stores across the UK.

The challenge
Recruiting knowledgable staff who can fit into the ‘by gamers for gamers’ culture in a highly competitive retail environment. Keeping recruitment costs at less than 36.50 per sales assistant.

What the organisation did

  • Moved much of the recruitment process online. The website allows potential employees to understand the Gamestation culture, identify vacancies and read job descriptions. Most importantly, potential applicants can test their gaming knowledge by filling in an online
    instant application
  • Created a wide-ranging benefits package, including unlimited access to the company’s games library, large discounts and free copies of games before they are released to the public
  • All employees are given a ‘call of duty’ staff handbook. Staff also receive a daily briefing by e-mail.

Benefits and achievements

  • More than 20% of head office employees started their careers working in the retail outlets
  • HR strategy has supported rapid growth – there are now 230 stores, compared with 70 in 2003
  • Hoping to achieve Sunday Times Top 100 Companies status by the end of 2006.

Category judge SIMON HOWARD says:
“They call themselves ‘an HR team to kill for’ and Gamestation is built on the simple philosophy of ‘by gamers for gamers’. This is a company which is enjoying phenomenal growth and so the recruitment programme has to be highly innovative and aligned with the business and its brand. Not only does the programme achieve those requirements, but it does so with remarkable effectiveness.”

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