Here’s how Coles processed 55,000 applications in record time and saved in agency fees – all during a pandemic.
Coles has been at the frontline of the nation’s COVID-19 response, providing essential food, services and supplies to the public throughout the pandemic. Behind the scenes, their essential workforce has been keeping stores staffed and shelves stacked, and deliveries running around the clock for Australians who need it most.
Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, Coles was able to successfully bring on 12,000 new staff in the space of a few short weeks to keep Australia running.
How did they enable finding high-quality talent at-scale and at short notice? The key lies in PageUp’s powerful applicant tracking system (ATS) that provides a full view of current talent, talent pipelines, and internal opportunities.
1. Leveraging internal mobility and redeployment
When the second wave of COVID-19 hit, Coles was once again faced with huge demand as shoppers stocked up on supplies before a looming lockdown. With an urgent need for people to come and work shifts on short notice, their talent acquisition team turned to redeployment to find the skills they need.
But redeployment is something organisations can struggle with if they don’t have a clear plan. Coles was able to seamlessly redeploy its staff by leveraging PageUp ATS recruitment functionality to:
1. Define a population set within existing employee data by segmenting employees based on:
- Where they work
- When they are available
- Employment type: casual, full time, part-time
- Names and email addresses
2. Create a unique internal application form
This allowed Coles to gain an updated perspective of their people’s details, availability and whether they are willing to work across different stores or regions.
3. Communicate seamlessly with employees
SMS and bulk email functionality allowed the Coles’ talent acquisition team to communicate easily with existing team members around the shifting needs of the business. Many of these correspondences had links to internal application forms, where thousands of employees expressed interest in open internal roles. The details of these thousands of willing employees was then fed directly into Coles’ workforce planning strategy.
2. Processing 55k job applications in record time
As customer demand increased, Coles needed to hire extra hands to replenish key items and re-stack shelves. A ‘Friends and Family’ campaign was born, which relied on internal referrals as a valuable source of quality hires.
Coles sent an application link to employees which they then passed on to the friends and family they thought would be suitable. Based on this reference from an existing team member, Coles hired these interested candidates and moved them to offer status, undertaking reference checking afterwards. This was a fast and efficient way to get people onto the books at-scale – and this approach helped them process the 55,000 applications they received and hire 2,500 family and friends as a result.
The flexibility of the PageUp system enabled Coles to move these applicants from application to offer, getting them onboard quickly and then completing the required background, reference and employment checks post-offer.
Nina Pollard, National Head of Talent Acquisition praised the PageUp system for its flexibility, configurability and ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. “The PageUp system is so malleable, so flexible that you can mold it to your required use cases quickly,” Pollard said.
“The PageUp system is so malleable, so flexible that you can mold it to your required use cases quickly,” – Nina Pollard, National Head of Talent Acquisition, Coles
“You have all the pieces at your fingertips, so really it is just about putting those pieces together to suit your needs. What is great is that you have the ability to get the process down to your own organisation’s level of detail that is needed, for instance, for us we could tailor the job card. It makes the system so powerful and able to support and adapt our unique volume and scale.”
To assist in interviewing thousands of candidates, Coles integrated video interviewing partner Vieple with their PageUp ATS in what Pollard says was an “amazingly fast” implementation time of 48 hours. Coles will continue to use video interviewing for stores now as “store managers love it”.
3. Redeploying employees: Cross-company mobility
When the first round of COVID-19 layoffs arrived, they hit hard. When lockdown was first enforced in April, it’s estimated that 780,000 Australianslost their jobs in the space of just one week.
Many of these were from organisations such as YMCA, AFL, and AVC Liquor stores in Queensland – and Coles wanted to help these organisations in their time of need. Coles partnered with these companies and many more to identify possible staff that had been stood down or furloughed – then used the PageUp ATS to send these people unique links to apply for roles. In doing so, Coles was able to fill critical gaps in their workforce at-speed, while also supporting Australian companies. It’s a fantastic example of cross-company mobility that sets the bar for collaboration within the Australian business community in the future.
4. Fast-tracking walk-in recruiting
Approximately 30% of Coles hires come from walk-in applicants, which inspired Coles to launch a campaign to fast-track the recruitment process for walk-ins. Using QR codes unique to the walk-in process, in-person applicants could then apply in real time and give store managers their application number in addition to their CV for immediate hiring.
Store managers can now hire walk-ins on the spot, and send their application to be processed through the PageUp ATS back at Head Office. Within 48 hours these walk-ins are ready to commence work, making the recruitment process incredibly fast, efficient and scalable.
To read more about how Coles handles high-volume hiring, see 9 tips from Coles to recruit at scale.