Holcim - “Quality reference checks streamline our recruitment and lead to better hires”

Posted on 12 July 2017 by Xref in Human Resources, Case Studies

In Australia, Holcim has been delivering construction materials since 1901. Originally serving the industry under the well-known Readymix and Humes brands, Holcim now continues to supply products including aggregate and sand, concrete, concrete pipe and products. 

Today, Holcim employs close to 3000 staff across 300 locations. The widely-dispersed workforce has meant that creating a standardised recruitment process has been a challenge. Of particular concern has been ensuring that the reference checking process is conducted consistently and delivers the insight we need to make better hires, across all locations and roles. 

Time consuming reference checking – a catalyst for change

We recognise how critical the reference checking process is but, in the past, it has been slow, time consuming, and has led to delays in the hiring process which has, on occasion, caused us to lose talent. 

The catalyst for change in any recruitment system is the realisation that staff have little incentive to complete the task and are therefore not motivated to do it well. The process was, and had always been, an unpopular and labour-intensive element of recruitment. 

On any one project we may be hiring for up to 30 positions, with multiple references required per candidate - that’s a minimum of 60 references for just one recruitment drive. For us to complete this over the phone, requires a minimum of 20 minutes per candidate, not including the time spent chasing referees on the phone, leaving messages, and returning missed calls. 

After initially considering hiring a new staff member to absorb the excess work created by the manual reference checking approach, we instead decided to introduce Xref and the results have been clear. It has streamlined our recruitment process, and alleviated the administrative burden reference checking had on staff. 

Now, the speed of the process allows us to check references more efficiently, more often and at any stage of the hiring journey. Our team often conducts a reference check after the first interview and prior to the second. This gives us information about candidates that we can use in the second interview, as well as highlighting the candidates who are most interested in the role and filtering out those that have already found employment elsewhere.  

Streamlining the process to save time and add value

The online nature of the solution offers the biggest benefit for our team, who had previously struggled to contact referees during business hours. A large number of the referees our candidates provide are blue collar workers who, during business hours, are on a construction site or in an area without mobile service – sometimes for up to weeks at a time. 

But beyond just saving time and wasted resources, the Xref solution allows staff to add value to other areas of the recruitment process and the business. 

Now, with the entire process automated, our team spends less time calling and chasing referees and is able to focus on more strategic, value-adding elements of their role, such as researching passive candidates, building networks on LinkedIn and meeting potential candidates in person. None of which they would previously have had time to do well.

Quality data improves candidate selection

Despite email being the preferred method of contact for the team, we used to also spend time chasing referees for responses by phone. Even once feedback was received, we were not gathering the same quality data that an Xref reference report provides. The information we now have to hand during decision-making stages is informative and benchmarkable, which allows us to make evidence-based hiring decisions to fill immediate vacancies, and positions us to build a better pipeline of talent for the future. 

In the past we’ve employed recruiters to check references over the phone, and while the ability to outsource the process has given our team time to focus their attention elsewhere, we were not always happy with the information provided as it would occasionally lack insight specific to the role we were looking to fill. While there is a risk when outsourcing the reference checking process that the details gathered may in some way be edited or taken out of context, the insight provided by Xref is thorough and verbatim – rather than relying on scribbled notes from a rushed phone call, we now received the exact feedback provided by the referee.

The improvements Xref provides in terms of efficiency, value and insight are unquestionable. Our reference checking process is now worlds apart from the manual task we, and most recruiting teams, have used in the past but the positive changes it has brought to the team and the wider business speak for themselves.  

Garth was appointed National Recruitment and Retention Manager for Holcim Pty Ltd, a leading supplier of aggregates, concrete and concrete pipe and products, in June 2016. He joined Holcim with more than 12 years’ experience in recruitment consulting and management, and is now responsible for the recruitment and retention of close to 3000 Holcim staff in 300 locations across Australia and New Zealand.

Garth Quinn, National Recruitment & Retention Manager, Holcim ANZ

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