Owned by supermarket chain Morrisons, Kiddicare is a multichannel baby specialist retailer selling over 5,000 products online, in-store, via mobile and app. The expansion of its physical portfolio with ten store openings resulted in the creation of approximately 1,000 new jobs. Independent was engaged to recruit Kiddicare’s senior management team and following this, to project manage the end-to-end volume recruitment drive for its new stores.
Embedded Executive Search
Tasked with sourcing the top two tiers of Kiddicare’s senior leadership team, Independent took a long term, integrated approach, providing valuable strategic and operational guidance to underpin company growth. Working closely with Morrisons.com and the Kiddicare.com Board, Independent:
- Advised on organisational design and development
- Built corporate and team structures
- Defined roles and responsibilities
- Provided strategic and operational guidance including:
- Resource planning
- Competitive talent mapping
- Reward benchmarking
- Job descriptions
- Interview design and management
- Candidate and offer management
With the foundations in place, Independent developed a strategy to attract the most innovative online talent who would grow with the organisation and align the dotcom culture with Morrisons’ overarching values. A dedicated, well informed research team used online social and professional networks, job boards, values based job profiling and recruitment technology to build talent pools of prospective candidates. In only four months Independent filled ten senior posts with leading experts and innovators in multichannel retailing and marketing.
Best practice volume recruitment
With a challenging store opening schedule of one store opening every month between 2012 and 2103, Independent managed each new store opening from attraction, application management and assessment to offer management. Each campaign was characterised by:
- Robust selection processes
- Consistency and clarity of selection criteria
- Strong candidate engagement and communication
- Working to extremely tight timescales
A significant challenge throughout the recruitment process was ensuring that Kiddicare’s culture of excellence in customer service was reflected at every stage. Kiddicare is fiercely proud of its culture, which has been a huge contributing factor to its success.
Selection and assessment
Candidates received an unparalleled level of personal communication for a volume recruitment project, which helped instil a strong bond of trust between potential employer and colleague and created significant goodwill towards the brand. The excellence achieved in candidate communication and engagement was reflected in the extremely high assessment centre attendance rate.
Key messages about the nature of the roles and need for weekend working were communicated at the attraction stage of the campaign to ensure candidates knew what was expected from them at the start of the process. This led to ‘natural de-selection’ and ensured that those screened had the right attributes and availability.
Telephone screening established whether candidates fitted with Kiddicare’s values and culture, which was considered more important than possessing technical sales expertise. Candidates scoring lower than a baseline score were stood down on a weekly basis as opposed to waiting until all screening was completed. This was considered a more timely and respectful way of communicating. Candidates received ‘reminder’ calls pre-recruitment event to minimise no-shows. Doing this via SMS was discounted as it did not have the required ‘personal touch.’
Assessment centres were referred to as ‘recruitment events’ to avoid unsettling connotations, particularly for those who were new to the workforce or who had not worked for some time. Information about what would take place during events was provided in advance and regularly re-capped throughout the day, helping to minimise fears about having to ‘perform’ and ensure that candidates were as relaxed as possible so that they could give their best.
The three key elements of each ‘recruitment event’; group activity, role play and strengths-based interview, were designed to reveal how the candidates worked together, their personal passions and how closely they were aligned with the organisation’s values.
After the event each candidate was thanked individually for attending, with expectations managed about when final decisions were to be communicated and next steps. All offers of employment were made individually and followed up by a formal offer with full paperwork. At each stage of the process there was a personal contact for any questions or feedback.
The overwhelmingly positive feedback received from participants at the end of each recruitment event highlights the effectiveness of the approach. Comments ranged from appreciative to raving fans.
The offer process and beyond
Effectively alleviating administrative pressure from Kiddicare, but also to ensure consistency of information, Independent managed the entire offer process.
Summary of candidates processed between August 2012 and April 2013 (eight stores recruited for – two stores remaining):
- 7225 applicants received
- 4279 telephone screen interviews
- 1844 interviews
- 782 offers of employment made.
Subsequent to all posts being filled in each store, a talent pool of ‘close second’ candidates was created. These individuals are communicated with on a frequent basis to establish status and present further opportunities as they arise. This has proved to be a highly efficient, effective and popular method of building strong engagement.