PT Awards 2013 winners: Reed Smith awarded for Innovation in Recruitment

Reed Smith collecting their award in 2013
Reed Smith collecting their Innovation in Recruitment award in 2013

Harvey Nash HR Law firm Reed Smith fought off stiff competition to win the Award for Innovation in Recruitment, sponsored by Harvey Nash Human Resources at the Personnel Today Awards in London this week.

We take a look at the winning entry, followed by those from the runners-up:


Reed Smith


About the organisation

Reed Smith LLP is a law firm with more than 1,800 lawyers in 25 offices throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Its practice areas span transactional, regulatory, litigation and dispute resolution.

The challenge

Judges
Mark Horley
, creative strategy director and founder, Tonic Agency
Darren Hayman, director of Future Exec at Macmillan Davies Hodes
Richard Essex, corporate director, Broadbean Technology

The legal sector is extremely crowded and competitive for graduates, so Reed Smith wanted to differentiate itself by specifically appealing to Generation Y candidates, creating distinctive opportunities for career development and at the same time recruit those with niche, international skills such as experience of studying law in different countries and other languages.

What the organisation did

  • Created a competition to create a “Law firm of the future” video for students at target universities.
  • Held an awards evening attended by senior partners to judge candidates’ entries to the competition; the winning team won a trip to New York and work experience in the firm’s London office.
  • Created a Business Masters qualification, which incorporated the mandatory legal practice qualification but also required recruits to apply commercial learning to a live business project.
  • Developed a partnership with King’s College London to support its Anglo-French degree students at the Sorbonne University in Paris, with a view to attracting lawyers with international mindsets and experience.

 

Benefits and achievements

  • Increased social media profile: the firm’s Facebook page saw its “Likes” increase by 163%, with almost 2,000 people sharing stories.
  • Vacation scheme applications from Reed Smith’s four target universities increased by 72%, while open-day applications increased by 371% compared with the previous year.
  • Clients were able to benefit from value-added, free consultancy worth around £250,000 thanks to commercial experience gained on the Masters programme.
  • Applications from King’s College students for vacation schemes increased by 900%; almost a quarter of final-year students on the Anglo-French programme applied for vacation schemes, up from 2% at launch.

Judge’s comments

“This is future-focused. Engaging and bang on the money for the community they are trying to reach” – Mark Horley


RSA


About the organisation

The RSA Group is one of the UK’s largest and longest established commercial insurance companies. It caters for the insurance and risk management needs of a wide range of businesses and is also one of the country’s top motor and household insurers through its “More Th>n” brand.

The challenge

RSA had traditionally relied heavily on external executive search providers to recruit senior executives. This was both expensive – with a minimum per-hire cost of 30% of salary – and meant that the company did not have as much control over the quality and ownership of candidates. Consequently, the HR team decided to put in place a fresh approach to senior talent acquisition.

What the organisation did

  • Recruited an in-house executive search consultant, saving upwards of £60,000 in search fees.
  • Partnered with talent research specialists to build candidate maps and data about the job market in the insurance sector; this data is “owned” by RSA so the company can use it however it wishes.
  • From this research, built a searchable database of senior talent and developed specific talent pools.
  • Introduced a candidate relationship management system (CRM) to manage and track potential recruits; these can produce “talent maps” from previous recruitment exercises in 30 minutes.

Benefits and achievements

  • In 2012, the move to in-house senior-level recruitment saved £750,000 in costs because there was no requirement for executive search consultants.
  • Drawn diverse range of talent from different industries outside insurance, including utilities and television.
  • Successfully headhunted a senior executive from a competitor company.
  • Able to deliver comprehensive shortlists of all relevant candidates for one director position.
  • Gained support across the business; now the first port of call for senior hiring managers.

Judge’s comments

“RSA has shown true commerciality in approach and excellent skills in obtaining tough stakeholder buy-in” – Darren Hayman


Sovini


About the organisation

Established in late 2011, Sovini Group is a collection of social housing associations including One Vision Housing and Pine Court Housing. The associations are all based in and around Merseyside and together manage more than 12,000 homes. Sovini Maintenance Services is a commercial maintenance and construction company, which provides services to Sovini Group organisations and external clients.

The challenge

Sovini’s CEO Roy Williams has acknowledged that “any organisation is only as good as the people it employs”. With this in mind, the company wanted to take a more proactive approach to workforce planning, using sophisticated selection procedures based on a rigorous analysis of its organisational values, and the knowledge, skills and behaviours it requires from its employees.

What the organisation did

  • Used staff videos to help promote aspects of Sovini’s benefits package, such as health and wellbeing, on its website.
  • Designed an assessment centre where candidates give a group presentation and are asked to shortlist each other, with the highest scoring invited to interview.
  • Introduced exit questionnaires for leavers.
  • Organised events such as a staff conference, a summer event and a Christmas party to improve and maintain staff morale.
  • Developed and implemented an apprenticeship scheme to tackle high youth unemployment in the local area.
  • Ran a recruitment campaign on local radio to attract 18 to 24-year-olds, resulting in 800 applications for 12 places on its apprenticeship scheme.

 

Benefits and achievements

  • Seven per cent increase – to 97% – in retention over employees’ first six months, attributed to improved assessment centre.
  • Reduction in turnover in employees’ first year, down from 21% to 7%.
  • Success of apprenticeship scheme means Sovini will take on 15 apprentices in 2013.
  • Recruitment evening attracted more than 1,000 members of the public, indicating enthusiasm for the Sovini employer brand.
  • Changes to the group structure mean staffing levels have increased from 240 to more than 550 in a two-year period.
  • Recruitment campaign for local tradesmen for housing services arm attracted more than 1,100 applications.

 

Judge’s comments

“This is a nice example of candidate engagement and a good brand builder. Other organisations do the same thing, but that shouldn’t take away from a nice innovative way of building relationships” – Mark Horley

 


Boots


About the organisation

Boots UK (formerly Boots the Chemist) is a chain of pharmacies, and since 2006 has been a member of Alliance Boots, an international health and beauty group. The company runs around 2,500 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large health and beauty outlets.

The challenge

Boots was launching a new premium beauty concept into its stores, and needed to recruit people to work across a range of brands, creating hair and make-up styles for customers and selling the products. It needed to attract experienced hair stylists – usually found in salons rather than stores – and salespeople who could interact with customers over social media, mobile devices, in blogs and in forums.

What the organisation did

  • Used existing staff to convey the experience of working for Boots, to ensure the approach was authentic.
  • Set up an account on Instagram where stylists can post hairstyles and looks (@bootsstyle) and created the #instajobs hashtag, using the pictures as advertisements for the roles.
  • Heavily promoted blogs created weekly where staff talked about their experiences at work.
  • Seeded relevant hair and beauty forums online with details of roles, directing them to the boots.jobs website and social media platforms, such as Twitter and tumblr.

 

Benefits and achievements

  • The number of visitors to boots.jobs from the campaign was 1,478.
  • Campaign attracted 89 applications.
  • Six per cent conversion rate from visitor to application, above usual average of 2.5%.

 

Judge’s comments

“Great entry. Nicely targeted and well executed. Good work” – Mark Horley

 


Birmingham City Council


About the organisation

Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in the UK and one of the largest public-sector employers in Europe, employing around 18,000 staff.

The challenge

In 2011, the council was tasked with saving £260 million, resulting in heavy job losses, a pay freeze and a hugely reduced recruitment budget. The council’s recruitment team has had to find increasingly creative ways to recruit to stay in line with cost savings, but also attract the right talent. Two major campaigns – to hire social workers and find volunteers when Birmingham played host to the US Track and Field team during the London 2012 Olympics – show how the council did this.

What the organisation did

  • Established a talent pool for social care workers to reduce reliance on agency workers and reduce time to hire.
  • Created a dedicated microsite to highlight the work of Children’s Services and profile job vacancies, including video content and stories from newly appointed managers.
  • Hosted the Compass Social Work Show at local venue ICC, where the council spoke to delegates.
  • Managed online/offline advertising response and responses through the microsite in a central system.
  • Created a tailored assessment process used by the internal recruitment team, eliminating the need for external providers.
  • Created a microsite at Alexander Stadium (athletes’ camp location) and ran ads in local council publication looking for volunteers.
  • Ran a series of six panels over four days to test and select volunteers.

 

Benefits and achievements

  • Average timeline from application closing date and conditional offer for social workers reduced to 28 days.
  • Estimated cost in advertising and staff time of just over £85,000 offset by potential saving of £26,000 per agency worker used previously; annual savings by not using agency estimated at £798,000 per year.
  • Recruited 135 volunteers for the Olympic hosting programme over 38 days, spending just under £7,000.
  • Improved the employability of volunteers and set up working group to post more volunteers on other projects, through the City Volunteering Policy – a boost in an area of high unemployment.

 

Judge’s comments

“Tough challenges against a backdrop of public-sector cost cutting met head on with great creative bespoke solutions” – Darren Hayman

 


Barclays


About the organisation

With over 300 years of history, Barclays operates in more than 50 countries and employs 140,000 people, 34,000 of which work in its retail banking operations in the UK. It operates six contact centres across the country that handle customer queries and support business operations.

The challenge

Barclays needed to move a number of call centre roles from its Manchester office into its Liverpool and Sunderland locations. This would require recruiting an additional 500 people over 12 months, and the bank wanted to ensure this was done in a way that would ensure the best candidate experience possible while attracting high-calibre candidates.

What the organisation did

  • Conducted detailed research into the demographics and employment markets in both locations, including media consumption.
  • Decided to focus on primary and tertiary target groups, broadening the potential candidate base and targeting passive jobseekers.
  • Used job boards and more than 25,000 lifestyle websites, attracting 3.8 million page impressions in Liverpool and 2.5 million in Sunderland, in addition to Facebook advertising.
  • Built a targeted message around career development and training for Liverpool audience; a more rewards-focused approach for Sunderland, where the target candidates were older.
  • Tagged every channel so that return on investment could be tracked.

 

Benefits and achievements

  • An increase in quality applicants led to better conversion rates, ratio of offers to candidate down to 1:3 from 1:5.
  • Some 350 offers have been made to date; attraction campaign has actually been paused due to such a high response.
  • Saved more than 100 man hours of interviewing per month between January and April 2013.
  • Decreased cost per hire by 63%, to £245, and expect this downward trend to continue.

 

Judge’s comments

“Well thought-out approach and initial intelligent research at the front end allowed a big commercial decision to be made and bespoke campaigns to be delivered” – Darren Hayman

Comments are closed.