Broadening our Recruitment Strategies

This video from the 2018 Presidents Group Roundtable features Nicolas Jimenez, Presidents Group member and President and CEO of ICBC. He talks about how business leaders can broaden their recruitment strategies.

Video Transcript:

(Nicolas Jimenez) I was appointed to the role back in July, so I can’t take credit for some of the things I’m going to talk about, but I can certainly take some pride in it because I think it reflects on the kind of organization we’re trying to be.

I can also be a little bit critical too because I think we can do more. I think some of what I’m going to talk about, I think the experiences that we’ve had in the first year in terms of broadening the way we think about recruitment needs to scale up.

We’re an organization that’s gone through a fairly large expansion of our employee population. In the last 2 to 3 years, we’ve grown from about 4,800 to 5,500 to accommodate some challenges we’re having in our business environment. You might read about them in the paper from time to time. And so, that creates huge pressures on our organization so as we bring people into the organization, people move to other roles.

We can see turnover in certain of those entry level points up to 40 percent in a year. There’s a constant churn of people coming in and moving on, so we need to be thinking a little bit more laterally about how we approach recruitment.

That’s what I’m going to talk to you a little bit about today. Actually, the credit I want to give isn’t to ICBC but it’s to the BC Partners in Workforce Innovation as an organization you might have heard of and if you haven’t, I’m gonna tell you a little bit about their story on how they’ve changed the way we think about recruitment. They truly get all the credit.

I’m going to call them BCWIN just because it’s a mouthful to use the whole name. So, what this organization does it’s funded by the federal and provincial governments and it essentially works to connect employers to people with a broad range of abilities and they do this by working with a partnership or a network of about a 100 other organizations and it is truly amazing what they’re able to do so they’ve helped us in the last year to pilot our broadening of the way we think about recruitment.

We first identify roles where we think we can bring in people with different abilities. We’ve looked at our call centre, our customer support, back office operations, some of our IT jobs, some of our facility maintenance and some of the vehicle repair and estimation roles that we have.

We’ve been able, over that time, to again in the first year to hire 7 people with a broad range of abilities, whether that’s folks on the autism spectrum, different cognitive abilities, different physical abilities, and people who are living with mental health issues.

More importantly, and I’ll talk a little bit about this at the end, we’ve put our hiring managers and our recruitment managers, about 35 so far, through training to help them think differently about the recruitment process.

So, what do they do? They get involved essentially with an employer. So, we come to them and we say, “look we’ve got these roles, we need to find candidates” and they essentially do a lot of the work. So, they go out and they work through their network of partner organizations and they find candidates, do the pre-screening interviews and they present us with a shortlist. They essentially cut down the process.

We’ve actually found that they’ve improved our hiring cycle times for these roles by about 20% which is significant when you’re going through the kind of churn that we’re going through in terms of hiring.

Then they help us think about how to structure interviews differently. This is part of the training, so they put our managers through training to understand how to shift and adapt the hiring process. An example would be changing your questions. So, some people have challenges with behaviour based interviews.

A question that you would expect to hear for a customer service role, “tell me about a time when you went above and beyond to provide excellent customer service to a customer.” The way to reframe that question for people with different cognitive abilities would be to say, “do you like to work in customer service?” “What is good customer service?”

Very small difference but a huge impact and how people are able to answer the question and how the recruiting manager is able to identify if that’s the right person for the role. So that’s been a big, big shift for us.

The other thing they do is, once the individual is hired and on-boarded, they provide post-hiring support. They check in with both the managers and the employees, and they make sure that if accommodations are required, the accommodations are there. They also provide coaching for both the new hires, but the managers, to help through that first year. 

I can tell you, in particular I’ve talked to some of the managers who’ve had to go through training to improve the coaching and performance feedback. There was one employee, in a customer support role who was having productivity issues, and the manager was approaching the conversation empathetically, with a lot of feeling, a lot of emotion and trying to be very supportive, but that wasn’t working for this individual.

What this individual needed with specifics. They needed to know exactly what was going right or wrong and the manager couldn’t quite connect why this wasn’t working. Well, through the coaching and the training, again very simple subtle shifts, there was a huge change in the conversation and obviously the outcome.

So, I asked the managers who had been involved in this pilot to say, what advice should I give out to this audience? Their advice is really a few things.

One, it is huge for team engagement. So, the teams which these employees are joining are incredibly supportive and they rise to a different level of coaching and support, peer support. Which is something they hadn’t expected.

They talk about there being a great fit. So there is a lower turnover for these individuals in these roles and you’re getting the right person, for the right type of job.

They talk about the amazing support that BCWIN provides. They also tell me, it’s free. Which is something that is amazing. I don’t know how long that’s going to be the case, but I encourage everyone to do as much as you can to find out more about this organization.

The other thing, and I’ll just end on this, is it was the shift in the way people approached the fear. One manager talked about, “I needed to get over the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.” And part of that inclusivity training that BCWIN provides for these recruitment managers, is to basically sensitize people and desensitize and make it a comfortable conversation.

That’s the shift that I think has been the most transformative for us. We’ve only had 35 managers go through this. We’ve probably got about 300 who are in the hiring roles. So, we’ve got a way to go but in our first year I think we’ve made the kind of progress that I know other organizations can make through the support with BCWIN.