The Australia Post Talent Story – enhancing the assessment process for casual Talent at scale

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Australia Post provides postal, retail, financial & travel services to more Australians than any other company. Delivering to more than 11.9 million addresses across Australia, and to more than 190 countries around the world. Each year the Australia Post Talent Acquisition function recruit over 2,500 casual employees into our delivery network to assist in processing the increased mail and parcel volumes during Peak Period (August to January).

Our problem

In 2018, we received feedback from a couple of stakeholders commenting on the poor mindset, reliability & performance of some of the casuals. The casuals’ poor performances affected the facilities operational efficiency and led to customers having a negative experience with Australia Post.

With casuals entering the business at our busiest time, it is important the quality of casuals provided was at a high calibre so those commencing could hit the ground running.

It was also important that those entering our recruitment process remained engaged throughout the recruitment process to ensure we are not losing quality Talent.

Although this recruitment campaign is focused on seasonal casual employment, it is a significant feeder to the rest of the business with over 20 percent of casuals being retained into more permanent roles.

Our initiative

We identified that we wanted to improve the quality and reliability of our casuals, we began by reviewing the key competencies of the roles and how they were being assessed.

This research process included interviewing a select group of hiring managers, business leaders and high performing candidates to understand what a great candidate looked like. We identified 5 major facilities and conducted interviews at each location, the key questions we asked included:

Hiring manager

  • What is the biggest challenge candidate’s face in the role?
  • What is the most important aspect of the role?
  • What does a successful candidate look like to you
  • If there was one thing you could change to improve the performance of your team what would that be?

Top performing candidates

  • What do you think is the most important aspect of the role?
  • How did you know what success looks like?
  • What motivated you to complete your role to such a high standard?

This process identified four key competencies which correlated to high performance:

  • Having a safety mindset;
  • Great attention to detail;
  • Ability to collaborate and work with peers;
  • Resilience.

With this in mind, we redesigned our recruitment process anchoring all components back to these competencies.

We still had one problem – how can we assess our candidates at scale, with over 10,000 applicants coming through our recruitment process each year.

The function recently trialed the merit based assessment tool Vervoe for our call centre recruitment and after a successful trial we identified its suitability for broader use across other Talent Acquisition streams. The tool was able to assess each competency and automatically grade candidates based on their responses to a series of skills assessments, which include video, text and multi choices responses to timed questions.

This enabled us to reduce our hiring time whilst ensuring we hire the best candidates without bias.

Our process

After establishing the business case and highlighting the potential ROI from redesigning the competency framework and assessment methodology, we conducted a series of information and briefing sessions to inform the business on why we were looking at introducing this change.

These sessions included Heads of HR, business unit Leaders and frontline Hiring Managers. Clear communication was key to ensure the business understood the reasons we were looking to implement the new process & technology.

We understood that these people are very busy, so it was important that when presenting our ideas, we had to:

  • Make sure that we start with the end in mind – we want these leaders and Hiring Managers to buy into our new hiring process and we want to get there quickly
  • Be concise and to-the-point – use numbers and our research results to back up our claims
  • Highlighting what was in it for them, what was the problem we were looking to solve and what impact that will have on their business

Interestingly these briefings began an ongoing discussion around the importance, reliability and validity of hiring manager interviews & reference checks.

Related reading: Vervoe is 10x more powerful at the top of the funnel

Our results

We have just ticked past three months since the launch of the redesigned recruitment process and introduction of the online assessment. Feedback from stakeholders so far on the quality of hire has been fantastic, with a number commenting on how reliable, attentive and interested the new staff are.

From a candidate’s perspective, many have commented that this is the first job they have applied for where they were required to upload a video of themselves. But they believe it is a great way to show their true selves in a more comfortable environment than a face-to-face interview.

The TA team have had similar sentiments commenting on how it has improved the process internally, we are now spending our time talking to more qualified candidates rather than reviewing and screening unsuitable candidates.

Dropout rates have also decreased – we have only replaced/back-filled three percent of staff compared to seven percent at the same time last year. This highlights that quality has improved as less people are being let go or deciding the role is not for them.

Along with the quantitative feedback, a true measure of success will be our conversion rate from casual to more permanent work at the end of the campaign. We are looking to increase the number of conversions by 10 percent and things are looking promising so far.

Our @#$% ups

Two things come to mind – the importance of the system integration and the completion rate of the assessment.

During go live we experienced a couple of technically issues when the integration between our ATS & the merit based assessment platform did not perform as planned/expected. Ideally, we would have allowed more time for testing and UAT however we reduced this timeframe to finalise the integration in time for Peak 2019

The second component which is one we are continuing to monitor is the percentage of applicants completing the merit based assessment. Currently we are hovering around 65% which we would like to increase to 75+% over the next year.

After an initial analysis of 3 months of data, we found that the percentage of candidates completing the assessment reduced when the assessment included more than 3 video responses, a question response time of less than 2 minutes or if the candidate has less than 7 days to complete the assessment. Since launch we have also introduced an alternate process for candidates who are not able to complete the online assessment, this ensures all applicants have the ability to succeed via a fair and equitable recruitment process.

We are continuing to refine the method, to find the balance between merit assessment, efficiency and optimal candidate experience.

Wrap up

Overall, we are really pleased with the redesign. It has brought us in line with industry standard and our corporate People and Culture strategy.

One of the most pleasing, yet unexpected, results is the faith the business now has in our ability to find the right people for the roles. It has empowered our consultants to have more meaningful conversations with stakeholders surrounding best practice methods to attract better Talent.

Article by Spencer Timmins, Australia Post. Originally published on atchub.net

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