Recruiting the best while business requirements are changing

Teodora Crisan, Head of Talent Acquisition, SYKES EMEA Global

Finding the best people is a priority for any business.

That’s especially true in outsourcing as our agents deal one-to-one with our clients’ customers.

In doing so, they are the voice of our clients and responsible for delivery of brand value and enhancing customer loyalty.

So, it’s an area of our business we take particularly seriously, to promote SYKES as an employer of choice and therefore attract the best people to us.

Until last year, our recruitment in the UK was handled by specialist agencies, but changing requirements as we recruited more home workers, and increasing demand as our headcount grew by over 350 employees, necessitated a rethink.

So, in an innovative and unique approach in the outsourcing sector, we created a Talent Acquisition Shared Service Centre (SSC) in Cluj, Romania.

That now provides a complete recruitment service for the UK and The Netherlands, as well as Creative Design and Media Sourcing for most of the EMEA region.

The SSC was set up to ensure that SYKES satisfies current and future business needs, as well as changing work patterns such as relocation packages, part-time and home-working.

The nineteen members of the SSC are multi-disciplined, with recruiters working closely with creative specialists to develop compelling advertising across digital and other media, a Reporting Analyst that makes sure the team is efficient from all perspectives, and four members of the team based in the UK to handle hiring and induction processes to ensure a great candidate experience.

Backing up the SSC is rigorous analysis to measure recruitment progress across every job or digital platform, and an applicant tracking system so that hiring managers can see the recruitment status of every applicant.

How it works

The SSC was created in Romania in 2018, initially to fill 20 Work At Home vacancies in the Netherlands.  It was also a proof-of-concept that one central team could successfully recruit across multiple European countries.

The initial focus was to research competitors and advertising channels in the Netherlands.  The concept was so successful, in terms of the number and quality of applicants, as well as their retention, that the Shared Service Centre team was extended to provide other SYKES sites with central recruitment, human resources marketing and employer branding resources.

Until then, recruitment in the UK had been handled by specialist recruitment agencies, so the challenge was to move the entire advertising and selection process to the new model. This was facilitated first by extensive talent mapping to identify who we were competing with and where jobs were posted, and UK social media channels.

The team created a 12-month HR marketing plan with 46 actions divided into 4 parameters: Advertising, Sourcing, Employer Branding and Candidate Experience.

The next step was mapping existing recruitment processes in the UK and designing a new process that would be efficient and profitable.

The team started to recruit for the UK at the end of November 2018, initially for English-speaking roles. In March this year, they added, among others, German, Dutch, Hebrew, Polish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish speakers.  Once again, with a clear focus on researching and understanding channels, job portals, and social media groups.

But the team is also focused on applicants themselves, to give them a great candidate experience.  Specialist collaterals have been developed, including an information booklet that covers everything a candidate might need to know about SYKES – from directions to our office to benefits, and job information to pension entitlement.

Importantly, this not only prepares candidates for their interview, the last step in the recruitment process, but introduces them to SYKES’ culture and values.

Indeed, the SSC recruitment strategy is also closely aligned with SYKES’ corporate brand at each step of the process, from the job advertisements that the team creates, to its presence at jobs fairs, and the tone and content of all internal and external communications.

That tone and content is all about authenticity, creating a recruitment and brand strategy that carries across advertisements, other marketing activity, Refer a Friend programs, and social media.

The strength of the SSC now lies in its multi-disciplinary talent.  For example, our creative team now holds social media, digital advertising and graphic design workshops for communication specialists across the region.

It also distributes a newsletter every quarter charting the SSC’s progress, changes in the team, lessons learned and best practice – an inclusive and transparent approach to improve HR recruitment on a regional level.

That inclusivity extends to a shared library, helping to align communications and activity between countries.  The library contains advisory documents providing information on, for example, prescreening and screening structures, interview guidelines, and FAQs.

The library also contains content that can be used across the region, both offline and online – including banners, roll-ups, purpose statement posters, stock pictures, recruitment designs, and Refer a Friend material.

This year has been one of enormous success for the SSC team, from proving the concept was viable, to delivering great results at significantly lower cost.

Some results

The SSC’s objectives are about providing an effective recruitment service, positioning SYKES as an employer of choice, and delivering this interlinked service cost-effectively.

Some key results have been:

  • This year so far, the SSC team has closed 269 positions
  • Delivered a saving of approximately £200,000 to the business
  • Recruited for unsociable shifts, closing the campaign early after attracting 700 applicants
  • Developed a model, using Facebook and Instagram, to identify where foreign nationals in the UK live in support of digital and offline advertising targeted to recruit specific native language speakers. This is being extended to other countries.

The SSC has delivered on its objectives, proving itself an innovative model for other SYKES regions and for other global companies, not just outsourcers.


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Posted on

October 17, 2019

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