By Sarah Dobson
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)’s recent recruitment initiative has seen impressive results, which was a big reason why the 2,240-employee institution — owned by the federal government to support more than 42,000 small and medium-sized enterprises across the country — was the winner of the Technology/Innovation Award.
The bank planned to hire 1,000 employees over three years with the addition of 26 business centre locations, so recruitment was key.
“It was important for the bank, given its mission,” says Eric Gagnon, director of employee experience at BDC in Montreal. “For us, it was really important to put in place all the systems and practices that would help us recruit the talent we need to support entrepreneurs, and the employee experience was really at the heart of this project, to support the business.”
The project included asynchronous video interviewing to replace phone screens. Questions were pre-established by role and the candidate did not know the questions in advance. This format gave job applicants greater flexibility and also generated savings for the recruitment team.
“We wanted to bring in technology that would help pre-screen candidates and also, with asynchronous video interviewing, give us the possibility to give a sneak preview before they met people in interviews,” says Gagnon.
“The recruitment service, for example, looks at all the CVs, pre-selects the number of potential candidates, sends them an invitation to participate in an interview online, which provides the candidate absolutely fantastic flexibility because they could answer the questions at their convenience either at home, during the day, at night… and provides our leaders really a better experience because they can see the candidates we are proposing before they meet them in-person.
“Because we don’t have to phone the candidate and make an appointment and do back and forth with them, we can also be more efficient at looking at the video answers, taking notes at the same time and sending our recruitment notes to the leaders, so that saves a lot of time in the process, administrative time that was probably not as efficient as it could have been.”
The recruitment process has also been automated, from the candidate application to the offer letter. Employees can now share BDC job postings on their LinkedIn network through the bank’s intranet and the streamlining of the process on the applicant tracking system has reduced time to apply for external applicants from 45 to 10 minutes.
Analytics also track the recruitment sources to broaden the pool of qualified candidates and be more cost-effective.
“It has helped us to identify our best sources of attraction and put our investments, in terms of our media plan and advertising, into the places, locations, media where we have the biggest bang for our buck,” says Gagnon.
The project required the use, development and implementation of multiple technologies, including an off-the-shelf cloud solution for the video interviews. And the automation of the boarding process required the connection of 20 systems, along with the web-based extranet solution developed internally in partnership with IT.
After all the work, the implementation went well, says Gagnon.
“We were on time and on budget, which is always good, it helps rally people very quickly. But it required collaboration from a number of teams and that’s the complexity of it and the challenge of it — there were people from IT, e-business, finance helped us put the business case together and track the benefits (and) the project management office was really top notch to help us manage the project.”
The project also made sense from a financial perspective. The approved budget, excluding time of employees assigned to the project, was $550,000 and the payback period was estimated to be six years, mainly through cost-per-hire savings. Other non-tangible benefits were also considered, such as gains in productivity, reduced time to fill a role and an improved employee/job candidate experience.
And the results over the past year were soon apparent:
•Decrease of cost per hire from $6,291to $5,118 for total savings of $389,436 (332 new employees hired last year).
•Reduction of time to fill from date of posting to offer acceptance from 70 days to 54 days.
•Estimated savings of 20 per cent of administrative time spent by HR partners’ teams on recruitment and onboarding.
•Increase of overall satisfaction of interviewed candidates of recruitment process from 75 per cent to 84 per cent.
•Increase of satisfaction of hiring leaders with recruitment process from 66 per cent to 88 per cent.