Sparks: What are the biggest challenges in your sector and how do you overcome them?
Lyndsey: The attraction of talent (I can only speak from a stores perspective of course) - we can struggle to attract people to come to join us in our stores. Our business is looking to future proof itself, so we also know the roles that we have will change and are changing. So it’s becoming more niche in certain areas and that can be difficult. So it’s basically a war for talent and I think every company faces that. For us, it’s making sure we are showcasing O2, what makes us different, and just getting that hook so people will consider O2 as a place to work. For us it is all about talent and making sure we retain them.
Sparks: What are your retention issues?
Lyndsey: That’s a difficult one because we don’t do mandatory exit interviews. But it’s something we’re looking at so we can try and drill down as to why people are leaving. I can only really comment from a store perspective, but we lose quite a lot of people in the first six months. And I don’t know whether or not the perception of what the job is going to be always lives up to reality. So that’s probably something we need to get a little bit stronger at - actually making store recruits more aware of the role they are coming into.
There can be a number of reasons why people will leave a business and because we don’t have the physical data to really drill down it is quite hard to pinpoint. I would say probably collectively as a business, the retention issues are mainly in stores. I don’t know if that is just the nature of the beast that is retail.
Some people come for a specific time period and then they’ll move on. There’s been quite a few people who’ve left our Head Office jobs that have gone on to more senior roles. And in some ways we don’t see that as a negative, because they’ve joined and we’ve helped them develop their skills and career and then they go off to other things. So sometimes attrition can be viewed in a good way rather than a negative way.
Sparks: What’s been the biggest change in your market in the last few months/years?
Lyndsey: I would probably say for us, it’s is that competition is really tight. So as a company we’ve got to be looking at what do we want in the next three to five years. And what subsequent effect that is going to have on how we resource. So going forward we are going to see a period of transformation. We’re going to have more specialised and niche roles, maybe some roles that we’ve never recruited for before. We’ve done a lot over the past couple of years in relation to software designers and IT architects, whereas before we hadn’t done much in that area. When the business is looking at future proofing, then the roles will change.
We’re also looking at an Agile way of working, which is very different to a lot of organisations and how they work. It will take time to get used to Agile, and that will be a big change for us as a business.
From a retail perspective, we’re always busy, but one of the challenges we’re having in our market is a decline in footfall. We’re not getting as many people walking into stores like they used to. But that’s not unique to O2, that’s just retail. For us, it’s just trying to position ourselves in that market, so that customers want to come into store to get that experience. And subsequently we’re recruiting people that will deliver a best in class experience to our customers.
So, there’s quite a bit of change in the market, and I know that we’re a telecommunications company, but we do like to view ourselves as digital. So we’re looking at digital changes and being aware that as time goes on, that mobile does change customers’ lives. It’s how we keep up to speed with that, and make sure we are giving customers the best that they can get from their mobile. It’s a market that is continually changing because tech in digital moves so quickly.
Sparks: How do you think Brexit will impact recruitment in your market?
Lyndsey: At the moment we’re still unsure. There’s is a lot of uncertainty, which isn’t unique just to O2. There’s always what if’s and we don’t have anything that’s 100% confirmed. We’re realistic that it will have an impact. We know that. But we’re currently working through different types of scenarios and we’re doing a lot of data analysis, in terms of who do we have working in our business that’s going to be affected by Brexit. What are their skillsets if they were to leave? What impact does that have? How do we make sure that we backfill?
But I just think there’s lots of uncertainty and I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going to happen. Being realistic we will likely lose a number of people from our workforce once Brexit goes through. So maybe we will need to be more clever with the different types of opportunities we offer.
So having more parent shifts, maybe attracting a different type of demographic, so not necessarily backfilling like for like. Having to be a bit cleverer in terms of our working model. I think we are still in the big period of what is going to happen? So we are doing a lot of work in the background to help us understand what our landscape is.
Sparks: I know you’ve talked about targeting parents, but will there be other audiences you will be able to tap into once you know what those skills gaps are?
Lyndsey: We’ve also got IR35 on its way next year in relation to contractors. So we’re doing a big piece of work on that too as that will affect our contractor population. And there might be a number of contactors who decide that they don’t want to continue working due to the tax implications. There are quite a lot of things happening in the market!
Sparks: What’s worked well for you when trying to attract passive candidates?
Lyndsey: We do a lot of work on Glassdoor and we know there are a lot of passive candidates on there that we might catch the attention of. We post a range of company updates too. We do a lot around employee referrals and try to encourage people internally to have a chat with people they know, to get them interested enough to consider an opportunity at O2.
And I know Cielo - who look after our managerial and specialist roles - do a lot of LinkedIn searches and pick up the phone to speak to potential candidates. We also target passive candidates for our store leadership roles, which is something Cielo are helping us with.
We just try to utilise all our different routes to market. Like social media. If we can get people to follow us and be interested in what we’re posting, then they might consider working for O2. We also use CV databases to target people. And we’ve used things like digital poster sites in train stations and in shopping centres. Plus, we’ve advertised to people working for competitors via their mobiles, using location and other data. We’ve also done clean graffiti, so we always look at other ways of reaching people.
Sparks: What’s next for your employer brand?
Lyndsey: We’re going to be looking at our EVP, so that’s a piece of work that’s going to get underway this year. We’re working closely with the Engagement Team on that, because we’re looking at the EVP internally. But also that’s got to filter through to externals. So we’re going to look at that and try and make it a little bit stronger. We’ll be refreshing our recruitment creative too, but not right now as the brand guidelines are going to change soon.
We’re having a think about moving away from what we’ve currently got and doing something a little bit different, because we’ve had the current ‘hero’ message for two years. And we’re aware that after a while if people keep seeing the same image and messaging they become blind to it. The essence of it will stay the same, i.e. you don’t want just any job you want to work for O2, but it will likely be more people centric and to tell people’s stories so people can relate to the types of individuals we’ve got working for O2. That’s what’s next!
Sparks: How do you see the role of resourcing changing in the future?
Lyndsey: We’re all aware that recruitment technology is changing. There’s lots of automation and AI and there’s going to be a lot more of that as we continue over the years. There will be a lot more use of that technology, particularly looking at sifting and removing unconscious bias and being able to free up time to do the other things.
And workplaces are changing, so different ways of working and more niche and specialised roles are likely to evolve, because technology is always changing, and you’ve got to keep up to speed. I also think recruitment will become more targeted, so there will be less reliance on job boards and more social recruiting - shouting out about roles that in years past would have gone on a job board, hoping that people would apply.
There is going to be more candidate engagement with the likes of their EVP and brand. And it’s not just about salaries anymore. It’s about what will the candidate get from the company they are coming to work for. I think tech is the main thing. I don’t think the role of Resourcing will completely be removed. I know there is talk about jobs that will become automated and redundant due to robotics and AI, but I don’t think Resourcing will be that. There are elements that tech will help with, but you have to have that people element. But who knows what the future holds!
Sparks: Hopefully the industry won’t be given the heave ho in the next five years!
Lyndsey: If it ever does happen hopefully I’ll be well in my 80s or 90s and getting ready to end my journey on this planet so won’t need to worry about that!