16th Annual Outsourcing Excellence Awards – Most Flexible: Telstra and Talent2
“Talk about flexibility. This engagement was all about constant change. Talent2 will do almost anything!”
Josephine Thompson, head of resourcing for Telstra
Definition: Both parties demonstrated the ability to be flexible, especially when facing challenges. They made decisions that reflected what’s best for the relationship even if the outcome was tough on both parties.
You have to be flexible when you are centralizing a business process across multiple lines of business in 12 weeks and implementing new technology at the same time.
Telstra is Australia’s leading telecommunications and information services company. To maintain its leading edge, Telstra needs to hire the best and the brightest Down Under.
For that reason, Telstra decided to stop using 30 different external recruitment agencies to ferret out its top talent. Instead, it chose to partner with an RPO provider that “knew the telecommunications market and was willing to take the risk,” says Josephine Thompson, head of resourcing for Telstra.
The decision has resulted in Telstra emerging as one of Australia’s preferred companies to work for. Around 15,000 people apply every month.
The challenges before outsourcing
There was a lot to risk. Telstra had no recruiting Web site. There was no consistent methodology for candidate selection. Telstra also had no defined employment branding. Onboarding was not standardized.
“We had issues managing our new employees’ expectations,” says Thompson. “We weren’t telling the story about how great it was to work at Telstra.”
“Telstra had a disconnect between its corporate brand and its employee brand,” explains Andrew Grant, managing director for Allegis Talent2’s global recruitment managed services business.
“The point about the brand is that it is fundamental to effectively recruiting top talent,” Grant continues. He says out-of-date assumptions remained the market perception about Telstra. The market viewed it as the old-fashioned telephone company, when in reality “Telstra was fully embracing the digital market and was focused on its transformation into a dynamic and customer-focused digital services company,” He explains.
Talent2 worked with Thompson and her stakeholders to develop more efficient processes and innovative approaches to ensure Telstra was “able to attract and select the best candidates with the right skills, experience and cultural fit,” Grant continues.
The partnership has enabled Telstra to ensure every candidate experience has the same hallmarks of quality, respect and professionalism that reflect Telstra’s obsession with the customer experience.
Since there was so much change required, “we were tentative that this would really work,” Thompson admits.
The partners’ need for flexibility
First up was the call center, followed by retail stores. Then the hiring went to corporate support areas like procurement, HR and finance. Now the partners are working with operations. Talent2 has also taken over contingent recruitment.
Together the partners created a new, centralized model. “We changed our model during the first six months. Then we modified it every six months to capture more process improvements,” reports Thompson. She adds Telstra rebranded its employer brand a number of times to incorporate and be aligned with the corporate brand. “The careers team constantly changed to respond to business needs, not only the brand but recruitment software, services and processes.
At Telstra’s suggestion, Talent2 changed its applicant tracking system from Taleo to PageUp, which Telstra then integrated into SAP.
Then Telstra went through “a massive restructuring,” according to Thompson. That required a large number of Telstra employees to reapply for newly created positions. The partnership responded swiftly, developing processes to support the change and the employees, managing to successfully redeploy many of them.
In addition, Telstra acquired several companies since signing the contract in 2007, which dictated additional changes.
Ringing up results
Despite all this change, Telstra and Talent2 continue to hit all their KPIs. Customer satisfaction is 97 percent — this is with both successful and unsuccessful candidates!
Currently Telstra has 1,500 open job vacancies per month and receives approximately 180,000 applications annually. Talent2 manages 40,000 high touch candidate interactions annually. Every interviewed applicant, successful or not, gets a phone call.
“In addition to candidate feedback, we also offer free coaching to ensure a valuable and rewarding customer experience,” says Grant.
Talent 2 has slashed the time-to-hire metric from 84 days to 36 across the board. “They find quality people who are highly productive and engaged,” says Thompson.
The goal was to have Talent2 perform 80 percent of Telstra’s job searches in four years. Talent2 got to 97 percent in just two, reports Thompson.
The careers team also manages redeployment for Telstra, and Grant says redeployment has saved Telstra approximately $10 million this year.
Why this relationship works
Thompson says the Talent2 executives “understand our strategy.” Telstra bids for large contracts and Talent2 supports the development of the bid materials, highlighting how we recruit. “A key to winning the bid is proving we can find the appropriate people,” Thompson explains.
The Talent2 team repeatedly brought on extra resources to respond to changes and growth in the business, they we respond with high-quality recruiters to support increased demand for services. And they are always around to support peaks in demand or new projects…at no extra charge. “They never say no to us. Instead, they help us find a way to make it happen,” she adds.
Even though this is an outsourcing engagement, neither partner views it that way. “We think of them as insourced,” says Thompson. She says Telstra treats Talent2 “like an internal function.”
“We never look at the contract,” she acknowledges. Grant says they don’t need to because “we deliver” and Thompson “makes it a safe environment for us to try different things and occasionally make mistakes, although not the same mistakes twice.”
This is important because all service providers make mistakes, “because we are the ones in the trenches,” he continues.
Grant says Thompson is “an innovative, proactive and challenging stakeholder. She continues to raise the bar with us and at Talent2 we have high standards already. Working with her has made us better. She has helped us take our Talent2 proposition to a higher level.”
That’s what an award-winning outsourcing partnership is all about.