Using Social Media to Find, Manage Talent

By Kathy Gurchiek April 23, 2015
CORAL GABLES, Fla.—A wide-ranging panel discussion concluded the 2015 HR People + Strategy Annual Conference here April 22, 2015. Mike Bergelson, CEO of Everwise, a company that works with organizations to develop their employees at every stage of an employee’s career, moderated the panel. Panel members were Mary Lauria, vice president of global talent management at Johnson & Johnson (J&J); Eric Severson, senior vice president of global talent solutions at Gap Inc.; and Anita McCaslin, director of talent acquisition for Starbucks Coffee Co.

How do you make change in your organizations?
Severson: The message HR is getting from our organization’s leaders is that we have to move faster, with more agility, so we are completely redesigning our hiring process—from sourcing to onboarding. We’re testing different assessment techniques and cutting the number of interviews per candidate from eight to four.

We’re the top brand on Facebook but we weren’t using social media for our intern program. Once we gave our interns a platform on social media to share their experiences and talk about the intern program, we received more than 5,000 job applications and hundreds of hits on our job site.

McCaslin: Five years ago, we really went after social media and realized very quickly a lot of our customers wanted to come into our store but they expected quicker service. We developed an app for Android and iPhones to place and pay for coffee orders before you arrive at our store. This also is what our job applicants and candidates are looking for and this is the first year we went mobile on our application process. is our first entry into crowdsourcing and we’ve implemented more than 1,500 ideas; it makes it easy for customers as well as our employees to tell us what’s important.

How is your organization using data?
Severson: We had a spot bonus program—the Exceed Award—for eight years but had never conducted a return on investment analysis. Using advanced analytics we discovered someone earning these awards, which average about $1,500, was three times as likely to be a high-performer and three times more likely to stay than our average employee. Their turnover rate is 5 percent instead of 15 percent. We found that the spot bonuses are a very good investment. You’re telling that person that the company thinks he or she is valuable. We also can use this information for performance reviews—for example, have we overlooked someone who’s received the Exceed Award?

We ask our employees to track their external volunteer hours and we looked at the relationship between their volunteerism and engagement and retention. We found a very significant relationship—those with the highest levels of volunteer involvement were three times more likely to stay at The Gap and had two times the engagement level. This kind of data helps us narrow down the many initiatives we could invest in for the best return on investment.

Lauria: We built a work analytics team to obtain really great insights that we are using in HR to better inform our learning development and recruitment strategy. It informs what we do around talent development with cross-section and cross-function moves.

How do you assess fit at the pre-employment level?
LauriaJ&J’s credo—its commitment to doctors, nurses and hospitals; to its employees, communities and stockholders—is more than just a document. It’s embedded in our hiring. We have mandated that those at the executive level go through an assessment process. It includes an online inventory that looks at personality, career derailers and motivation, and there is a business simulation component. While the outcome of the assessment is not the decision-maker, it is part of the process. We want to ensure that those we arebringing in “at the top of the house” embody the values of Johnson & Johnson.

Severson: Our job candidates are super excited at the idea of working for The Gap and have high expectations about the company, but the first time someone wasn’t properly scheduled for an interview or didn’t hear back from the company after filling out an application reflected poorly on the company. It was very humbling to learn that.

We weren’t leveraging our tangible strengths with candidates coming to our headquarters. For example, instead of going for a walk with them in the beautiful San Francisco Bay where our headquarters is located, we were placing them in dark internal rooms with no windows. We weren’t taking them to an organic lunch whipped up by the chef in our cafeteria.

We used a third party to reinvent our whole recruitment process. The results have been phenomenal. We also realized our candidates are our customers and vice versa, and we work hard with our retail stores to ensure a good candidate experience there and are looking at more creative ways to connect with potential job applicants through social media. Employee referrals and re-entry have been a huge focus for us.

Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News.

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