New Wave Thinking: How Sodexo stays three steps ahead in a constantly changing world
I recently spent three days in Las Vegas at the HR Technology Conference with some of the top leaders in HR and Talent Acquisition. While attending presentations, exploring the new technologies being demonstrated in the exhibit hall, and grabbing every opportunity to connect with my peers during breaks, top of mind for me was where we might go next in Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition Group. And it occurred to me that this is really what New Wave Thinking is all about: knowing that our world is constantly changing, and recognizing that if we are to meet Sodexo’s need for talent, we must be three steps ahead.
New Wave Thinking has led us on an incredibly interesting and successful path. By being open to new ideas, we built an organization that views innovation as a means to success, enabling us to anticipate and respond to the rapidly changing labor market, tackle internal cultural barriers, and generate competitive advantage for our company.
Our first step into social media was more like jumping from a cliff into a pool—though we did a lot to prepare we were not quite sure where we might land and what the outcomes might be. That was 2007, when we participated in the first ever virtual career fair held in Second Life. While we ended up with only one hire from the career fair — a chef out of Las Vegas whose avatar’s name was Chef Bellagio — it was hardly the ROI we had anticipated. But we did experience an unintended consequence that ended up being extremely beneficial to Sodexo — Sodexo received extraordinary global news coverage that led us to become viewed as forward thinking and innovative at a time when, although we were the 20th largest global employer we did not enjoy the same employer brand presence of consumer facing companies our size. So while we concluded that Second Life was not the right venue for us to fill jobs, it had a fabulous outcome in helping to build our employer brand.
We subsequently launched our Sodexo Careers blog and explored other social venues, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more recently, Pinterest. We found that their openness and transparency provide incredible value to our company in terms of candidate engagement, building our employment brand and sourcing top candidates. Additionally, through social media, we have been able to reduce our advertising spend by $300,000 annually. We were also thrilled to see that about 47% of both our internal and external hires reported that they had used at least one of our social media platforms when seeking a new position within Sodexo.
About 5 years ago we recognized the growing use of mobile devices and at the same time recognized that those candidates visiting our site via a mobile device were not having a positive experience. Given the trends we knew we needed to develop a mobile strategy. Very early on, we optimized our career site and various properties for mobile. A big challenge was in figuring out how we could make it possible for our candidates to apply for a job directly from their mobile phones and offer a special experience to our internal candidates. And here is another example of how New Wave Thinking is important. At a conference in London, I met someone who understood the importance of a “mobile apply” feature, and his company in partnership with our ATS provider was able to help us launch a complete Search and Apply mobile app that offered customized experiences for our internal, external and alumni candidates.
So in early 2012, we launched the Sodexo Careers and Job Search mobile app which tied all of the company’s social recruiting efforts together where candidates can engage with recruiters on social networks, search, and apply for jobs straight from their smartphone. Over the last year, we have had fabulous results in hires via our mobile app, with the added benefit that more than half the hires are our own employees who had used the app to identify and obtain a new role within our company. We were excited to see how this new app was such a helpful tool for our own employees and supporting our internal mobility efforts – another form of New Wave Thinking I will share with you when we meet. So as I prepare for my upcoming trip to Australia for the ATC Conference, like my time a few weeks ago at HR Tech, I look forward to sharing some of Sodexo’s New Wave Thinking, and can’t wait to connect with this global HR/Talent Acquisition community and get a glimpse of how innovation is playing out across the oceans.
*Arie Ball will be speaking at the 8th Annual Australasian Talent Conference, Sydney, 20-22 May 2014. She will be presenting a Case Study: “Anticipating Change – How Sodexo built an innovative recruiting culture that breaks the mould.” * Find out more on our website or connect with Arie Ball on LinkedIn.
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