Orange Silicon Valley is a research and innovation laboratory of Orange Group, a French Telecom Operator, which is a leading network operator for mobile, broadband internet, and fixed line telecommunications in 30 countries and territories. We are a global community of 161,000 people, reflecting the wonderfully varied markets we serve.
The importance of Orange Silicon Valley is to be Orange’s Bay Area presence and to understand technology trends and solutions. Through research, development, and strategic analysis, we actively participate in the disruptive innovations that are changing the way we work.
Our capacity to contribute and engage with the Silicon Valley ecosystem is a way to foster innovation and seek out disruption within our organization. We cross disciplines in our different verticals such as Virtual Reality and Human Resources. We believe that innovation comes from people who don’t know what they can’t do.
Technology can dramatically improve employees experience. Employees’ workflows and workplaces are constantly being reshaped. Emergency evacuation is a part of this experience. Being aware of and learning procedures is not always easy and efficient.
Since Orange Silicon Valley’s fire emergency training happens once a year, new employees or employees who are not in the office on that specific day miss the training. For employees who do attend training, instructions can be hard to remember due to a lack of immersion and focus.
Virtual Reality can help organizations increase both user engagement and focus through better efficiency and flexibility. The core function of our case study is to assess the way virtual reality enhances employees experiences when they have to learn the emergency procedure.
Virtual reality training also gives employees an alternative to the physical drill that happens once a year. As portability is the next new capability, using VR is a way to verify the state of the technology and understand how we can change the way we communicate and collaborate, and redefine the future of digital workplace.
Why did we consider VR as a solution for a fire emergency training?
Some employees miss the emergency training or don’t have the opportunity to do it during onboarding
Few people read our 22-page fire emergency procedure, which explains where they have to go and what they should and should not do
Emergency staff (volunteers) have difficulties remembering exactly what they have to do
Not everyone is aware of both the east and west building exit routes, or where the meeting point is on the street
Why from a Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Standpoint?
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are two different assets. While Augmented Reality (AR) is an overlay of content on the real world, Computer-Generated Virtual Reality (CG VR) is an immersive experience created entirely from computer-generated content.
Virtual Reality is part of the 4th Wave of Computing Platform after PC, Internet & Mobile. AR and VR enable new experience and change the way we can communicate and collaborate. AR and VR are great tools in transforming workplace learning and lead to higher retention rate of learning.
Applying these new technologies throughout different use cases, such as the emergency training, can help to anticipate the future of digital workplace. With VR comes an active learning thanks to the immersive environment provided into it. It can helps workforce to be more flexible, resulting in greater autonomy and productivity.
We identified key parts of employee onboarding training related to our emergency procedure.
Thanks to Virtual Reality training, employees can know exactly how to get to the company gathering point outside of the building.
Orange Silicon Valley’s legacy HR procedure is a 22-pages document that explains the evacuation procedure and duties related to it. This is long, and not all employees read it.
We tried to solve these problems by building an expansive virtual reality environment to help our employees learn the exit route to get to our emergency gathering point outside of the building by themselves.
We created a VR environment consisting of our building’s 11th floor (open to the public), 10th floor (open space), and street level by iterating with Uinnova Technology, a startup we are working with.
We chose to implement our project by working with Uinnova Technology. Uinnova solution is a 3D visualization platform that helps users build 3D simulation scenes, develop applications and integrate their IoT data and system. By bringing advanced interactive 3D capabilities to current and legacy User Interaction, Uinnova seeks to improve user experience by working on specific use cases with companies.
We chose to implement our project through an agile framework. The goal is to build, try, and correct the virtual reality environment until we deliver a version compliant with HR needs.
# Step 1: Building the virtual reality environment
Establishing a common language and framework between Orange Silicon Valley and the startup we are working with was the first step. The technical vocabulary related to VR and HR came very quickly. For instance, we had to redefine what we consider points of interest and navigation points.
Here are the technical steps we took to design our office:
Figure out what part of the building/street level we needed to provide in order to let the employee walk (or run) to our company gathering point
Provide the floor plan and pictures to build the environment virtually (navigation points)
Provide pictures of the fire emergency path’s points of interest, such as exit signs, fire extinguishers, and stairwells
Provide the exact location of our points of interest and furniture on the floor plan
Use a 360° camera to implement a video for the fire emergency route
From a Human Resources perspective, part of the fire emergency procedure had to be designed at each point of interest and some of the navigation points. For example, a popup appears when an employee sees a fire extinguisher or moves to a specific location where unique instructions are needed.
We divided our work in three parts, floor by floor, to provide a fully immersive environment that complies with our Human Resources needs. To do so, we reviewed the fire procedure with our HR department to figure out which parts of the exit path are the most important during the process.
To help our HR department save time during the onboarding process, we needed to replicate the possibility of walking freely in the space to get familiar with the floor as well as provide a quick, automatic, and safe VR training. For each floor, we provided two different demonstrations.
We implemented a demo point where the system will take employees to the meeting point automatically. For this procedure, employees just have to put on the VR headset and sit down. For this model, we tried to be as close to the onboarding process as possible in order to deliver the right exit path.
We implemented a self-navigation model that requires employees to navigate themselves and see the exit sign and fire extinguisher. In this navigation model, employees have to use the remotes and stand up while virtually moving through the space. This second mode enables us to provide a quiz mode later on that requires employees to figure out where to go on their own and demonstrate their knowledge of the procedure.
11th floor section
On our 11th floor, which is open to the public, we highlighted the kitchen, the lunch area, and the data center first, since these zone are more risky than conference rooms for instance, due to electricity, servers, etc. We designed a starting point by default in the bistro since this point is far away from stairs.
Also, we prioritized the most populated zones on the 11th floor. If a fire happens, the probability of having employees in the “bistro” or in the west lobby is higher than somewhere else. We also focused on the front desk space, since it is close to our four elevators. One of the rules we emphasize during the onboarding process is taking the stairs instead of using the elevators.
11th floor starting point
On the picture herein above, the red fire pop-up enables a virtual fire and triggers a recorded fire drill to increase the immersive experience. The white arrow pop-up next to the fire pop-up allows the user to switch between different demo modes. The white menu on the right enables the HR department to record user actions into the immersive environment. Such records can be shown to the trainee.
11th floor elevators
On the picture herein above, the white pop-up “Do not use elevators. Move in an orderly fashion toward the stairs” is a copy past of the emergency procedure. Every employee can read this guideline through the legacy procedure. Our purpose is to use the virtual environment to improve the learning experience.
10th floor section
On our 10th floor, we designed our open space and our lobby by paying close attention to the “default starting point”, right in the center of the open space. The two different modes also work for this floor, and we added a virtual fire on one side to see how employees react to it.
10th floor starting point
On the picture herein above, the demo mode enables user to play an automated recorded path from the demo list. Such a mode enables the user to have an overview of the exit path without using actively the remote and the VR headset. The drill mode adds virtual fires and an audio fire alarm in the self-navigation model in order to emphasize the sense of urgency.
The stairs on both sides are important to emphasize since everyone in the building has to use them in emergency situations. The automatic mode teleports employees directly to the first floor (instead of doing 9 flights of stairs in VR mode);
Stairs on 10th floor
On the picture herein above, we added all the building floors so that the user can click to be teleported at specific locations. The other floors are empty, but we designed this feature since our building manager is interested in sharing our demo with the HR departments of the other companies in the building.
Street level section
The first floor and the street level are an important part of the piece since employees have to go to the gathering point. We had a specific request from our HR coordinator who is in charge of taking attendance at the gathering point. She brought our attention to the difficulties in showing people exactly where they need to go once they are on the street, so we used additional resources to design arrows and signs to show people exactly where to go.
Street level close to the company gathering point
On the picture herein above, the green arrow indicates the path to follow to get to the company gathering point. The yellow arrow indicates the exact location of the gathering point. Those features have been added to help our users to visualize clearly where to go.
The trainee’s goal is to reach the point where employees meet in the VR environment in order to get used to taking the right path and be more efficient on the day of an emergency.
#Step 2: Collecting qualitative feedback to adjust the environment
Inspection: We tried to have regular meetings during our project because some technical aspects had to be improved. For example, we were wondering what kind of experience the user considers “the best” when they are in the VR environment. Moving through the VR space can be done through a flying mode or a jumping mode (from one point to another). We chose the flying mode since it gives employees the impression that they are walking through the space.
Our first sample group had not participated in the emergency procedure during the annual physical training. Testing this group first allowed us to assess the way they recognize the space and the exit routes to see how they reacted. This helped us understand the way they handle this technology and how they use it more accurately.
We chose a second sample of qualified people, mainly consisting of our HR head and other employees in charge of office logistics to get a sense of what should be emphasized and corrected first. This helped us identify the potential next steps in providing a full and effective emergency training process.
To comply with the human resources procedure and help enhance the onboarding process, employees have to get a real sense of where they are and understand the instructions we provide in the emergency procedure.
#Step 3: We adjust and prioritize our requests to our vendors
One of the red lines we want to keep in mind is “What is the minimum viable environment and procedure we have to provide to empowers employees learn by themselves?”
This question led us to prioritize these features in our most recent cycles:
Add furniture in our rooms to help employees know exactly which side of the office they are on (and in turn reduce cybersickness)
Add a fire drill, virtual fires and danger pop-up to help people feel a sense of emergency through Virtual Reality
Improve the quality of the pop-up with a recorded audio voice
Add features to help user interactions with the machine (menu to get to a specific location, implemented default paths)
At Orange Silicon Valley, we use the “Now New Next” framework to emphasize what we are looking for and what we expect. Crossing disciplines between Human Resources and Virtual Reality is a way for us to test and learn.
The purpose of our framework is to be clear about what we should look for in the near future and the scale of our virtual reality procedure. Next, we would like to extend our virtual reality procedure to the entire office, and then to the rest of the building and beyond.
It’s an exciting time for our industry. In the three years since the SmartRecruiters Talent Acquisition System (TAS) came out of R&D, the recruiting industry has witnessed the kind of technological upheaval that’s transformed just about every business model around us, from marketing to manufacturing, real estate to retail, It’s been a long time coming for HR, which is strange, considering the degree to which the most influential business leaders give importance to the process.
Alphabet’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt knows that “hiring is reinforced as the most important thing a leader does”. Apple founder and maha-guru Steve Jobs considered the top bullet-point on his job description to be “recruiter”. Like many corporate recruiting teams, we struggled with finding the right formula for investing and measuring our recruiting resources to ensure maximum impact.
What We Did
Our mission at SmartRecruiters, in the broadest terms, is to match as many candidates with the right employers as possible. We had to prove to recruiters and HR departments that implementing our TAS would save enough time to make it worth their while, but there would need to be an investment in recruiting. We had to start by proving it to ourselves on our own team.
What we discovered surprised us. We found we weren’t spending enough on recruiting. We knew we needed to make a business case to support this, so set about making a ROI model that would validate our assumption. To show that increasing cost per hire was more than a worthwhile investment, we mapped a clear methodology, and made the necessary case for disrupting legacy approaches, as well upping hiring budgets.
Why We Did It
Part of the problem recruiters face in this new digital marketplace is justifying new costs to company number crunchers, and the formula of “give me Z people and Y funds and I will deliver you X hiring success” isn’t yet an ingrained capability in all recruiting teams. One of our key goals was making this x-factor of hiring success more measurable, and bringing incontestable metrics to our executives.
Let’s start with why we’re talking about this at all. The Boston Consulting Group found that “companies adept at recruiting enjoyed 3.5X revenue growth and 2X the profit margin than their less capable peers.”
Any increase in recruiting output and productivity has an impact on the bottom line. This drove out intentions of analyzing and understanding where we were today, and how we could improve.
The most important first step is to find and engage great candidates across all channels. If you’re not paying attention to how they’re treated once engaged, you’re likely to narrow your talent pool.
Hiring Manager Collaboration
Building deep embedded relationships based on mutual trust and value allows recruiters to align more closely with hiring managers through the entire process to drive better decisions.
Ensuring recruiting resources and focus are maximized to drive the necessary output for success.
Our recruiting team wanted to take these concepts further, in terms of the ability to attract, select, and hire the best talent, for any role, on demand and on budget. That’s what we defined as hiring success, and that’s what we went for.
How We Did It
We’re based in the Bay Area, which is notorious for talent shortage, putting increased pressure on our recruiting engine. And while technology innovates at ten times the speed it once did, our methodology for achieve hiring success has to keep up. Which means we must quantify our methodology to the point where any unsure hiring manager can see the immediate benefits of this process.
First, we did an internal audit to see where we stood ourselves. To understand how we arrived at our audit and measurement terms below, it will help to define how we calculate some of the terms we’ll be using.
An organization’s Hiring Budget includes all recruiting costs such as all Talent Acquisition (TA) employees, program spend, outsider recruiters, travel cost of candidate and technology infrastructure, but does not include time spent by interviewers and the hiring team as they engage in the process.
While most organizations measure the cost of recruiting, forward-looking organizations consider their Hiring Budget an investment just like a marketing budget to attract and grow ideal candidates and express the budget relative to the salary of people hired. Therefore, the Hiring Budget is a percentage of the total salary of new employees or New Hire Payroll (NHP).
Leading organizations invest, on average and depending on industry, between 5 and 15% in their Hiring Budget. This can be a good measure to understand their investment versus an organization’s peers in hiring top talent.
Hiring Velocity measures one simple thing: the percentage of jobs filled on time. Why is this important? Well, it answers one simple question: Are we able to hire the people we need when we need them? It’s critical for CEOs and their executive teams to know that their decisions and plans can be implemented because they have a TA organization that can mobilize quickly and deliver results. If they can’t, taking too long to hire the right candidates hinders the organization’s ability to grow and meet goals.
Hiring Velocity is highly correlated to Business Velocity. Consider the diagram below. Even a Hiring Velocity of 50% means you’re only able to fill half of your jobs on time. This means you don’t have as many people in the organization to help fulfill strategy and meet targets.
At 80% or greater, velocity becomes a core competency and helps to move the business forward faster. Obviously hiring on time can have a significant impact on the business. However, it is actually less important than the metric most organizations rarely track – which is the quality of the people brought on board. Quality is always more important than timeliness in hiring. No organizations exist that congratulate themselves for hiring all their low-quality employees on time.
“Net Hiring Score”
This is no better determinant of a company’s overall hiring success than quality because it speaks to the relative productivity and output of each hire made. This measurement is a company’s Net Hiring Score or NHS. Similar to NPS, which speaks to how loyal and expressive an organization’s customers are, the NHS, which ranges from -100 to 100, tells you what percentage of your employees are great fits (i.e. high quality) for your organization. To calculate NHS, there are three simple steps:
This number, which will range from -100 to +100, is the net hiring score and speaks to the quality of the people the organization is hiring.
Having spent 6% of our budget on hiring, we measured Quality of Hire with a single, NPS-like score, which we call an NHS (Net Hiring Score), from -100 to +100 where 0 is the median of current employees. We divided by department:
Marketing = -50
Engineering = +91
Client Success = +22
Sales = -42
Finance = +100
Other = +50
The outcome? -17. Which represents an average loss of $537K (Our Net Hiring Score (-17) X Our Recruitment Budget).
With their NHS (Net Hiring Score) in hand, organizations can now easily calculate and understand the net impact of hiring quality on their organization.
To do that, let’s make the following assumption - the worst performers in an organization create a burden of 1X their annual salary and star performers generate a gain of 2X their annual salary. These assumptions play out across most organizations and are correct (if not much higher) as top quartile employees generally out-produce their peers by a minimum of 2X and poor hires (especially in leadership) cause a great deal of organizational dysfunction and slowed momentum. The final step is to calculate an organization's Return on Hiring for any given period of time / hires in three simple steps:
Calculate two numbers: Net Hiring Score and New Hire Payroll (NHP) - which is the total annualized payroll of the new hires for any given period.
If NHS is non-negative: Net Return on Hiring = 2*NHP x NHS (as a %)
If NHS is negative: Net Return on Hiring = NHP * NHS (as a %)
If a company hires 20 people with a salary of $50K each, the NHP (New Hire Payroll), will be $1M.
If they have a Hiring Score of 25, then the Return on Hiring will be $1M x 25% x 2 = $500,000
If they have a Hiring Score of -10, then the Return on Hiring will be $1M x -10% = -$100,000
This allows organizations to evaluate the financial impact of their hiring practices. Organizations should then compare the net return they are receiving in relation to the amount spent to recruit - i.e. Hiring Budget.
Simply having a positive score leads to improved team productivity, faster growth, more brand awareness, better candidate pipeline, technology adoption, increased revenue, and decreased attrition.
We found that with an increase of only 4% of the hiring budget (more on where we invested below), we upped the collective Quality of Hire to +28, and the Return on Hiring exploded to $4.2 million.
The chart below breaks down this process, and finds we are already at 32.5% of positions filled on time.
There are gaps to be filled, streamlining on both sides of our process, but we’re happy to have reached a candidate satisfaction score of 8.3, and from the hiring-manager side, a satisfaction score of 7.1.
We hired two recruiters to improve the process, and we invested in direct sourcing for entrance-level positions with LinkedIn, but that proved time-consuming and expensive. Instead, we optimized our ROI on job advertising with better conversions, referrals and smarter budget allocations, using a collaborative process with job-specific scorecards (see example in next section), so we had better evaluations with no bias. Finding the right sourcing mix for each type of job is critical, and taking this into account improved our overall candidate experience from the first visit to hire, but the most important thing we did, was to follow our own rules and processes religiously.
All this led to a) better candidate flow b) improved hiring decision making c) streamlined processes so both speed and quality went up dramatically.
Now that we could identify our own shortcomings and measure outcomes as we addressed them, our formula to accurately measure hiring success became clear. It had to with cost (Hiring Budget), speed (Hiring Velocity) and quality (Net Hiring Score).
Once you have your own +/- Net Hiring Score, you can combine this with your Hiring Budget and Hiring Velocity for the three main metrics for a Hiring Scorecard, which represents the health and impact of the hiring function. This will quickly tell you which components might need some work:
In this example, the organization invests 7% of New Hire Payroll in recruiting. With that budget, it is able to maintain an acceptable velocity of 75% while hiring great talent - evidenced by an NHS of +52. (It’s important to note, however, that even if you have a positive NHS, low Hiring Velocity can still have an adverse financial impact by taking too long to fill jobs.)
To define Return on Hiring for any given period of time:
Calculate two numbers: Net Hiring Score (as %) and New Hire Payroll (NHP) - which is the total annualized payroll of new hires for any given period
If NHS is positive: Net Return on Hiring = 2*NHP x NHS (as %)
If NHS is negative: Net Return on Hiring = NHP * NHS (as %)
Organizations should then compare net returns in relation to the amount spent to recruit - i.e. Hiring Budget.
Let’s take three organizations that hire 10 people with a New Hire Payroll of $1MM, with dramatically different results in terms of ability to hire top-quality talent:
As we see, Sad Sad World LLC clearly under-invested in recruiting. They lack the ability and resources to attract candidates, managers are not getting the pipeline they need, requisitions remain open way too long, therefore the business is not agile. Compromises are made around quality which results in numerous bad hires. The direct financial impact of all of this is a loss of -$500k.
Rockstars Only, Inc. took a different approach. By resourcing their hiring efforts with almost three times the amount Sad Sad World LLC, the Hiring Budget supported all recruiting efforts. When paired with more high-quality hires than low-quality hires resulting in a positive Net Hiring Score, Rockstars Only Inc. managed to generate an incremental $1MM return.
Team Not Bad has a mediocre Hiring Velocity, but average Hiring Budget. While these metrics are certainly better than Sad Sad World LLC, Team Not Bad makes the same number of good hires as bad (NHS of 0) which means the financial return on hiring is $0. Again, this is better than a negative financial impact, but certainly not a number you’d want to share in a board meeting.
What We Missed
In an effort to raise the bar, we started to use direct sourcing methods for most roles, but we realized quickly we were wasting time and energy going outbound for entry-level sales positions. We ended up turning our sourcing mix towards inbound (advertising,...) for junior roles and mostly outbound (referrals, direct sourcing,..) for more senior positions.
Hiring success is now measurable. Every organization needs to understand their hiring process and how it impacts hiring velocity. They can then revise their hiring budget to optimize return on hiring. Whether the issues lie within velocity, spend, or quality, most companies will find their situation is a combination of the three.
The idea of talent analytics can be intimidating to recruiting laters who aren't yet deeply data fluent. Our goal with this case study was to demonstrate a clear, and relatively straight-forward, way that TA leaders can analyze their impact and calibrate their budgets/output for success. If we have contributed to changing that situation at all, everything will have been worth it.
We use LinkedIn and Entelo for sourcing, LinkedIn, Indeed, and niche boards for job advertising; Criteria Corp for assessment; and Outmatch for reference check. All of which are natively integrated in our SmartRecruiters Talent Acquisition System.
The Anchor Group is England’s largest not-for-profit housing association, providing housing, care and support to people over 55 years old.
Our initiative was to create a better recruitment process, while providing the best applicant experience possible.
WHY WE DID IT
We noticed a pattern emerging during the recruitment follow up process, with a high number of individuals that completed application forms then failing to engage with our in-house recruitment team despite attempts to reach them via phone and email.
Candidates’ busy lifestyle meant that they were often unable to respond to emails or answer the phone (except at very specific times of the day) and tended to shy away from completing extensive application forms. We also realised that there were highly-skilled candidates that were experienced in care but unable to translate this onto paper in the form of a CV.
WHAT WE DID
The solution was a purpose-built recruitment Chatbot built into Facebook Messenger, with questions that will allow us to screen and engage with candidates instantly. 1.2 billion people currently use Facebook Messenger, and can access it straight from the mobile phone they keep in their pocket. This made it the perfect tool to build the new technology upon.
When someone clicks on an ad on Facebook, a conversation will immediately open in Messenger, allowing the applicant to be preliminarily qualified and book in a specific time for a call with an Anchor recruiter.
HOW WE DID IT
Using the Chatbot, we initiated automated one-on-one conversations with potential candidates. There are a variety of platforms available to build Chatbots, however we chose to build ours within FlowXO. The reason for this is because it has allowed us to hard code in our own features and integrations, so that it can be much more than a simple automated question and answer system.
Anchor Jobs Facebook Chatbot - YouTube
The best example of this, is a feature whereby once the applicant has inputted their postcode, the Chatbot can then calculate how far they are from the nearest Anchor care home and then estimated commute times. Our ‘natural language’ Chatbot responses also ensured that we retained a personal feel.
In less than a minute, our recruitment Chatbot can:
Establish which role the candidate is interested in
Whether the location is within commutable distance
Whether the candidate has the required experience
Capture multiple data points such as name, email address and postcode
Facebook Messenger is also becoming a platform for customer service, so it was important this was considered when building the Chatbot. This resulted in building in functionality so that if the user had a specific question, they could be passed along to a member of our recruitment team while still on Messenger.
The technology alone, however, was not enough however to ensure success - the initiative involved building targeted social media campaigns that drove people to the Chatbot where they could then apply.
An example of our Facebook ads
The great things about Facebook ads are that we have data on everything - click-throughs, engagement, applications, etc. It allowed us to A/B test and optimize our messaging. Through analysing several months’ worth of data, we were able to conclude what messages would appeal to our target audience the most. By delivering the right message to the right audience, we were able to drive effective traffic to the Chatbot to maximise applications.
Since launching the chatbot, we’ve attributed 86 hires directly to candidates who initiated contact with Anchor Trust through the bot.
The “traditional” recruitment method applying for a job via uploading a CV to a website yielded a conversion rate of 2.04%. The conversion rate for the Chatbot stands at an unprecedented 27.35%.
1,062 total Chatbot conversations with potential applicants. All those who do not finish their application can be “retargeted” via our social campaigns to re-engage them.
The average cost per applicant for previous recruitment campaigns was £51. The Chatbot has reduced the cost/applicant by 64% which now stands at £18
The number of average monthly applicants has increased 82%
WHAT WE MISSED
The main consideration should be the development time for building a Chatbot. Once the software has been built there is also continual process of analysing the data to see how it can be improved. If we were to create another Chatbot, we would allow for more time to test it before it goes live. There is always a risk with new technologies that it won’t work as flawlessly as hoped, so you can never test too much!
For example, over the course of the development of the Chatbot, we have learnt that the language used is vital in guiding the applicant through the process and keeping them engaged. We know that emojis are popular online, so we incorporated them into the Chatbot along with our informal language and GIF’s to make the application process as fun and engaging as possible.
Simplifying the application process has significantly increased the number of applicants, while decreasing the cost per applicant.
Data is king – continually analysing results and data has allowed us to improve and evolve the Chatbot to make the experience even better.
Simply building a Chatbot is not enough – how are people going to discover it? You need an accompanying online advertising campaign to drive the people you want to apply onto the Chatbot.
Anticipate the time and cost that goes into developing new technologies.
At GE we usually categorize Employment Brand at GE into four big ‘buckets’: candidate experience, brand ambassador programs, messaging, and online presence. The truth is the brand ambassador component is the glue that plays into each part of employment brand at GE.
We started our program four years ago out of crisis for what candidates were seeing online before coming in for an interview. However, it quickly developed into something we offer for all GE Employees that want to volunteer to be a brand ambassador.
In teaching the basics of storytelling, finding your ‘why’, and nurturing social amplification behaviors we have implemented an army of over 13,000 brand ambassadors, with little to no resources. These new ambassadors are yielding in fantastic reach and helping us engage talent in new ways.
Why We Did It
A few reasons led us to create the brand ambassador program – like many change initiatives, they were rooted in limitations.
First, we had a $0 budget starting this adventure with GE. I looked around and asked ‘what do I have?’. One of the key assets we had was access was 350,000 colleagues around the globe.
The second challenge was our lack of polish in online profiles. I looked around at what our recruiters and hiring managers looked like online (not great). Many reacted with shocked expressions when I mentioned that candidates were doing their homework and googling them ahead of time. Connecting these dots for them helped set this initiative in motion.
There were also core business reasons that made this the perfect time to implement this initiative.
1. Our company was going through a massive transformation to a Digital Industrial company. We had to tell the public about it, but most of our communication channels were B2B. The question then became - how do you get word out to people?
2. Transparency is not just ‘in’, it’s becoming an expectation. Customers/candidates could care less what we say about ourselves (they don’t trust it – exhibit A). They want to know what it is like to work at our companies from our employees.
3. We had a huge culture shift going on as a company. How do you convey this externally? How do you help employees to discover and experience this?
4. Talent Acquisition use to be job led. It is now brand led. How do we now shift this in our processes and the way we approach candidates?
What We Did
We used the voices we have in the company (the 350,000 potential marketers) to humanize our brand and represent us as people instead of an overwhelming corporate entity. To lay a firm foundation we started with a pilot and quickly grew it as we evolved the training. We also tried to involve as many key stakeholders as possible from the beginning, and along the way, that could evangelize and promote the training where it should be promoted.
We created a basic one hour course and then other more advanced components that those with passion to represent the company can choose to join. The foundational course has been fused into other trainings that employees receive along their life cycle at GE such as New Employee Orientation, Hiring the Right People, and Executive/Leadership training. This ensures that we entice people to get involved and bring it to mind along their career path at GE.
A big part of any brand or ambassador programs is about keeping it going - the longevity. To do this we implemented a strategy where we evolve and offer the training quarterly, as well as create full marketing strategies to involve our brand ambassador’s in and keep them engaged. This continues to create a buzz and enhances our marketing campaigns to increase the reach, engagement, but most importantly the longevity.
How We DID ItPilot -> Feedback -> Update
We started with a small group of recruiters (that were in most need of help but also a group that I would call skeptics – I knew we would get all the feedback we needed). Then we incorporated their hiring managers. We held these sessions live and learned a LOT just from facial expressions. Of course there was no shortage of direct feedback as well.
We post-training surveyed through a quick online tool we have a GE. It included rankings for each part of the training as well as some open form fields for feedback. We maintained the same survey after the pilot to ensure data continuity/integrity and be sure we continued encouraging feedback. The open feedback helped us iterate and refine the training so it is highly tailored to our audience.
One last note is that the training should evolve at least quarterly. Online presence and social channels change so rapidly that you need to be sure you are keeping up to date.
Involve Key Stakeholders
HR Managers, TA Leaders, and Recruiters – This audience is usually a great ‘test pilot’ if you feel your HR teams need help in this area. They’re often your best proponents as well.
As a massive global organization, broad messaging can be a challenge. One of the ways we get the word out to all employees on training initiatives is through our HR team. They’re the ones ‘on the ground’ working with teams and know who could use this type of training.
The HR team is also sensitive to those that might not be involved as much with technology, slowing up on hiring, or perhaps going through sensitive times losing headcount and such. We made it easy for them… an email they could forward to all their teams/contacts.
Another great outcome of getting HR involved first was that it answered the initial question most employees were thinking… “You mean GE is okay with this?” GE had a legacy of conservative views towards social presence and profiles, so employees needed reassurances that was evolving and their engagement was now encouraged. Not an easy culture shift.
Leaders/Diversity Leaders (or specific recruiting initiative leaders) – This audience can also be your biggest (and most important) advocates. Not only can they promote, but they can also lobby for other parts of the organization to get involved (this is how we were able to plug it into the Crotonville/GE University Executive courses).
Sometimes adoption is best advocated through examples. Our CEO at GE Power contacted us at some point along the journey. He shared that his 18-yo son said that people were looking at him online and rating him, etc. He wanted to know what he could do.
We set him, and his executive team, up with personal brand ambassador training. Not only did he passionately participate, but he also sent the invite to the next general session to EVERY GE Power employee. When your boss is doing it… you want to too.
Marketing/Culture Comms/Branding – These teams are crucial partnerships for brand ambassador programs. First, you want to be sure to walk in sync and follow the brand of your company for obvious reasons. At most companies their employment brand will not be as mature (or respected) as their corporate brand. Employment brand is the ‘new kid on the block’. Having corporate brand alignment and buy-in will help ensure that your program is a success.
The way we did this at GE was by proving engagement data, sharing credit, but most importantly - provide them good content. The stories that our brand ambassadors could write after bring trained to think about their ‘why’ were exactly what marketing was wanting for their content portfolio. They know that people-centric stories spur emotion and cause a connection. They were hungry for content from our employees.
3 Key Components (all voluntary and for any GE Employee):
101 Digital Industrial Brand Ambassador Training – ~1 hour
Quarterly sessions offered at 3 times in one day to help with global time zones – General / All employees can join
LMS – online training available through our LMS – can be taken as one course or broken into modules
Additional audiences and fusions:
New Employee - An overview and short tips are addressed in our NEO training (New Employee Orientation)
Manager - A portion of the brand ambassador training has been fused into “Hiring the Right People” training that every new manager participates in
Executive - Our Crotonville (GE University) references portions of the training and the full training as part of Executive training
Agenda for training:
Win/Win – professional branding for you and (if you choose) GE
Being safe online
Maximizing your LinkedIn profile
The art of storytelling; your ‘why’
Other places you can ‘hang out online’ – social, review, content sites
Resources (see below)
Example of brand ambassador infographic
Flexibility ~Employees chose how much time to invest:
GE Brand Ambassador internal website
Join a distribution list for all ambassadors
30 Minute Monthly Tips and Tricks sessions
Resource website for ambassadors
Behavior of Social Amplification (Employees pick the tool/method that works for you) ~10 min /week:
Sites you can refer to for great content
Monday morning email of updates for each company (usually video, engaging content to amp)
LinkedIn Elevate License
GE Eddie (internal social amping / news broadcasting tool created with Dynamic Signal)
Continue the Buzz….
An example from our Women in Engineering role model campaign
Being able to train and promote participation in brand ambassador training is valuable, however part of the plan needs to be about sustaining the program and campaigns. This is where the brand ambassador portion of employment brand is weaved through everything.
For example – our women in technology campaign. GE has committed to have 20,000 women in technology by the year 2020. We launched the marketing campaign, gathered leads that fell in love with the idea (not necessarily looking for a job), and have continued to have conversations with them. Eventually this will result in enticing them in and seeing how and where they fit at a company where they truly agree with the cause. But to do this we must continue the conversation. We achieve this in several ways.
Leverage hashtags: for this we picked #BalanceTheEquation – be sure all your brand ambassadors know if they upload a photo to instagram, twitter, etc. to use this hashtag and GE will amplify, retweet, repost, etc.
Use your Brand Ambassador's ‘why’ stories - Email stories of women rockstars at GE – highlight the cool jobs that make up STEM jobs (see results for how this has turned out so far) – these stories come straight from our brand ambassadors and their ‘why’ – you can find an example here.
Female Engineer Powers Pakistan & Empowers Girls - Together We Work - GE - YouTube
Use conversational social media - Facebook Live sessions of events going on at GE with our women executives or through our Women’s Network (our internal affinity program) have been very valuable. They’ve resulted in quick uptick of conversation externally, live engagement, and a transparent point of view – over 50K reach in 24 hours – email attached to use as template to ask for internal support
Think outside the box – We launched a RV bus tour to college campuses around the US where we were able to get an RV wrapped in the women in technology campaign and created some amazing activities we could do to educate what it was to be a woman in technology at GE.
Our GE #BalanceTheEquation bus
Increase in applicants - With our first big push through the brand ambassador army of the Owen commercials we saw an 800% increase in applications the following month.
Increase in quality/hires - Connecting to the right/quality candidates pays off – our Women In Technology Campaign provided over 18K leads within the first few days. Engagement with this audience through email and text led to at 75% open rate, 25% click through rate, and a 10% apply rate.
Social Ambassadors - Over 75% of our global employees have a profile on LinkedIn, and are actively engaged on social media (most are engaged and many are very active = 100 + postings / month).
Connected/Reach - Able to use brand ambassador army to reach more organically than many paid campaigns – our brand ambassadors have 19.7M unique first connections – we see this increase on average 15% per quarter for the last three quarters.
Know what content engages - We can learn by the masses of content that candidates / customers engage with (and in turn educate our brand ambassadors AND marketing teams). We now follow the 3-2-1 rule. Three pieces of smart content, two pieces of thought leadership, to every one piece of content about a job or product.
Make emotional connections - Employees understanding and articulating their ‘why’ – long term we believe this will even help with retention.
Organic engagement taking place of spend targeting campaigns - Social amplification from brand ambassadors gaining over $3M equivalent in social target campaign spend for $0 in Q1 2017.
What We Got Wrong
Involve your leaders earlier They can help ramp up faster. I was a bit timid of involving executive/senior leadership because at the beginning I heard things like… ‘don’t make our employees look good, they will be poached from us!’ or ‘I’m not sure if we want our employees speaking on behalf of us.’ I was worried they would say we can’t and leaned towards asking for forgiveness over permission. Looking back this was one of the ways we saw the biggest ‘uptick’ in interest. When leaders got involved and 1) posted their own ‘why’ externally but 2) promoted with their employees, we saw significant growth and respect of the program.
Customize training(or add-ons needed) per function (i.e. Sales will want to add in/use differently than IT community) – possibly even label a ‘super’ brand ambassador to help promote in that region/function/business and recruit other employees.
Have a clear channel/process for gathering the ‘why’ stories Including easy ways to broadcast externally. We created MyGEStory.com and it works well. However there are so many tools and technologies out there that make storytelling and collecting very user-friendly (and less manual) or time consuming for employee.
Decide early on to be tool agnostic Just teach behavior of social amplification (we lost time arguing internally on the best tool for this).
People tell great stories that cause connection. You need to equip them with tools for confidence and time to get it done – and most importantly permission.
Brand ambassadors are ‘free’ marketing campaigns.
When employees learn their ‘why’ they share it They stick with the company through the hard times. It is too early to tell in numbers, but we are seeing a pride through hard times in each business that we have never seen before. Positivity and camaraderie can also be impacted, as brand ambassadors attribute engagement to believing in what they are doing. Having brand ambassadors discover and write about their ‘why’ gives them a sense of belonging - not just a job.
Brand + Data + Relationships = Recruiting - The focus of recruiting doesn’t solely land on our HR team. Our brand ambassadors are some of the best ‘recruiters’ we have!
PowerPoint – to put the training together
WebEx - to host virtual quarterly trainings (WebCast once we went past 300+ participants joining each call)
LMS - to host online course and give credit to learners in their portfolio
Email distribution lists and internal communication tools (Yammer) - to provide a sense of community to the brand ambassadors
Email/LinkedIn Elevate/GE Eddie (built with Dynamic Signal) – to promote / help with social amplification behaviors
The main focus of Dell’s early employment branding strategy was to be visible where candidates were spending most of their time – on social media. However, there was no real approach to our content strategy on social. We simply followed a post and pray model to increase brand awareness, where we posted pictures that we thought were globally relevant and prayed that we’d reach candidates in all markets to join Dell.
As social media evolved, so did our approach to Dell’s online presence. We created a content strategy aligned to Dell’s talent acquisition objectives and our employee value proposition (EVP) to attract candidates. While aligned to our EVP, the content we were sharing was a one size fits all approach across our followers, and over time, we realized that it was not driving engagement or converting followers into applicants.
WHY WE DID IT
After two years of implementing our global content strategy, requests from local leaders to boost brand awareness in their markets began to grow. However, we only had one Employment Brand and Social Media lead, Dalhia Rodriguez, covering the entire Western hemisphere. In order to scale the reach of Dell’s employment brand, we needed to leverage resources in our core markets to create localized content that resonated with followers to drive conversion.
WHAT WE DID
In order to attract and convert candidates in Dell’s Brazilian market, we piloted a local content strategy in Latin America (LATAM) that mirrored our global content strategy, where we “glocalized” content and empowered social media leads in each country to “tropicalize” (our slang word for adding latin flavor) the content and create rich posts that would position Dell as a great place to work in their specific market.
HOW WE DID IT
At Dell, we believe that managing our employer brand on social media has a significant impact on our ability to attract and hire top talent, but we have historically under-invested on social because the ROI is hard to measure. Due to our limited budget, we had to rely on our existing team members to close the gap and help grow Dell’s brand in their particular markets.
We first garnered the support from LATAM’s Talent Acquisition Director, Amanda Spurlock, and she agreed to provide local interns for each of our main markets (Mexico, Panama, and Brazil) who, in addition to their recruiting responsibilities, could dedicate at least 25% - 50% of their time on social media. Once we had a commitment of people resources, we trained them on Dell’s employment value proposition, brand guidelines, and overall content strategy. We provided access to Sprinklr, a social media management platform, and Photoshop for the interns to be able to create and publish content that attracted talent. We also stood up sister Twitter accounts such as @DellPanama and @CarreiraDell and geo-targeted the content on our Careers at Dell Facebook in their native language for those countries.
With a local content strategy, our followers in key markets now receive content that is relevant to them in their local language, culture, and values, to create a deeper (but more locally relatable/relevant) connection to our employment brand.
For example, local Brazilian labor law requires companies with at least 100 employees to enter into employment agreements with people with disabilities. Now, with the support of our local social media resource in Brazil, we’re able to create targeted posts and boost awareness of Dell specifically for this demographic, an option that wasn’t attainable with much consistency before our localized content strategy was in place. We even identified a Brand Ambassador within our True Ability employee resource group that passionately shared his experience working with Dell in sign language. This was quite compelling because not only did we align with local recruiting objectives, but we showcased the company's overall commitment to an inclusive work environment.
Our localized strategy is primarily based on Facebook because of the available geo-targeting feature. Below is an example of an organic post created by one of our local interns. Through advanced targeting on Facebook, we were able to reach over 33k people, compared to a typical post where we on average only reach between ~5-10k of our total global audience of 620k when we don’t target.
Another example is from our University Relations team in Brazil, who created a video showcasing our engaging work culture and targeted interns specifically in their market. With that post, we were able to reach 274k people organically via our Careers at Dell Facebook (as shown below) and attracted over 700 students by using the Avature link as the call to action.
Estágio na Dell - Portas abertas para seu desenvolvimento - YouTube
A key element of the local content strategy is to consistently measure all of our posts to know the effectiveness of the strategy. For every post created, we use the same call-to-action (CTA), directing those who clicked to jobs.dell.com/brazil link to search Dell’s opportunities in Brazil. In addition, for every post that promoted a local event, we insert the specific link tied to our Candidate Relationship Management tool, Avature.
When we analyzed the results, we found that our CTAs on our localized social posts resulted in a 1,661% increase in traffic to Brazil's job page (jobs.dell.com/brazil) compared to the year before.
To test the effectiveness of our local strategy, we targeted the same content to our Brazil audience as shown in Exhibit A and to our global audience as shown in Exhibit B below. The post targeted to our Brazil audience of roughly 20k people had a higher reach and engagement rate than the post that had visibility to our global audience composed of over half a million people.
Furthermore, we analyzed our posts targeting Millennials and women globally vs posts targeting the same demographic specifically for our Brazil audience and found some compelling numbers:
145 posts were created towards our Millennial audience while 54 were specifically created for Brazil.
Posts targeting our Brazil audience got more engagement when compared against posts opened to our global audience.
In Exhibit A below you'll see that the top 3 posts were those targeting our existing Brazil audience.
32 pieces of content were geared towards women both locally and globally and the top two posts with the highest level of engagement were those from Brazil, as shown in Exhibit B below.
In addition, when we measure our other campaigns that make up our core content strategy -- Diversity and Work Culture -- the posts tied to the local content strategy consistently continue to be our top posts quarter over quarter.
Attracted Top Talent in Local Markets
We realized that by conveying the work culture in our key markets in the local language, we were able to effectively compete for talent within that market, instead of posting content globally in hopes that it would resonate and attract candidates in all markets. Roughly three months after implementing the strategic localized approach, we began to see our followers convert into applicants.
Source of hire for Social Media increased from 3% to 8% in LATAM since the implementation of the strategy.
We had over +1,500 college students opt into Avature from July to December 2017
Engagement on Facebook for our posts targeting Brazil doubled from 6.5k to 12.6k engagements once we started being purposeful with our content
Total followers is no longer used as a sole indicator to measure our brand's success. As our content strategy has evolved we have begun to put a higher weight of success on post engagement.
For example, 50 percent of the followers of our Careers at Dell Facebook page are from Egypt and India (as shown below). Based on the size of these audiences we assumed that they would be the most engaged with our content but instead, our most-engaged fans on our Facebook page this year have been our audience from Brazil, which accounts for only 3% of our followers. We attribute this engagement directly to having a local resource in that market focused on consistently curating, creating and posting quality content in Portuguese 3-4 times a week.
Easier to Measure Your Brand
Through our localized approach, we have also been able to better track the ROI of our social efforts.
From July 2017 to December 2017, we have seen a 407% increase in page views and 439% increase in unique views for Brazil’s career landing page, which is more traffic than our bigger markets such as India, Ireland, and the United States!
By incorporating Avature links in our local content strategy in Brazil, we have been able to capture over 1,500 warm leads into our Talent Community.
WHAT WE MISSED
While we have experienced a lot of success in our localized content strategy, there a few areas that we still can improve on:
Interns are short-term: The duration of LATAM internships last on an average of six months to a year so ramping up new interns makes it challenging to grow our followership in countries that experience various handoffs in responsibility.
Measurement of same links is key to show ROI of strategy: Initially, we would use different links to all of our posts making it difficult to measure over time the effectiveness of our posts. Once we simplified the process of just measuring two links, we were able to measure over time the ROI of our branding efforts.
Authenticity instead of stock photography: To get the strategy started, we would initially use stock photography as a way to make the posts aesthetically appealing but as we started incorporating videos and real pictures of our team members, we started to see an uptick in the level of engagement.
Talent is getting harder to find and differentiating your brand from the competition is crucial for candidate attraction. Implementing a local content strategy drives deeper engagement with your followers and increases conversion of those followers into applicants. With the success of our localized strategy in LATAM, we have begun to implement a similar strategy for the United States and Canada.