There have been three key strategic priorities for multinational banking and financial services company Standard Chartered in transforming its talent acquisition function on a global scale.
“There’s an old business cliché that says if you want something to be cheap, fast and good, you can only pick two,” said James Lodder, senior manager, group resourcing centre of excellence at Standard Chartered Bank.
“But for a transformation programme this ambitious, it had to deliver all three.”
As is often the case in large organisations, he explained that the business case is built on “the experience”, but it’s actually made real in the cost or efficiency savings it can deliver.
“So, we needed to do something that was better for our external customers (our candidates), better for our internal customers (our hiring managers and recruiters), as well as being faster and more cost-effective – not a small ask!” said Lodder.
Foundations, capability and efficiency
The bank focused on three key elements in the transformation of its talent acquisition: building solid foundations, upgrading capability, and working in a more efficient way, he said.
“The foundation was in an upgrade to our applicant tracking system, Taleo,” said Lodder, who explained that Taleo delivers the basics and allows the use of complementary technologies to help build the experience for candidates.
“That experience is delivered through a better jobs portal, better hiring manager and agency portals, and by using third-party selection technology,” he said.
Standard Chartered, which operates a network of more than 1200 branches and outlets across more than 70 countries and employs around 87,000 people, also employs selection technology which incorporates online situational judgement tests, aptitude tests as well as video interviewing in the talent acquisition process.
“With regards to efficiency, we have already offshored the screening process for new hires, and we are now transitioning the recruitment teams into the offshore hubs,” said Lodder.
“In-house recruitment teams have traditionally been built on number of jobs filled, but that’s not a good way to measure quality”
“Oversight and management of that are made possible with better MI – we use a data warehouse with a front-end business intelligence tool so that we can pull in data from the ATS as well as the core HR platform.”
Next steps and keys to success
The next step in the talent acquisition process is to switch on situational judgement tests that assess for fit.
“These assessments are interesting because they don’t give us a binary yes/no response on a candidate’s suitability, but they do give a view on how well a person aligns to our organisational culture,” he said.
“After that, it’s cognitive assessments; numerical, abstract and verbal reasoning (that is, brainpower – banking is tough at every level).
“Finally there is video interviewing, as we increasingly use our recruitment teams to hire candidates from all over the world, it is impossible to meet everyone face-to-face, so video interviewing allows us to maintain some of that human element,” he said.
Lodder explained that a successful talent acquisition team needs to have great processes, great systems and great people.
“Behavioural change is important to drive adoption of the new processes and systems, but without a great team of people to land it, it’s for nothing,” he said.
“Our brand is strong, particularly in emerging markets, so we can attract great talent there – those people help us make the changes real and work through the challenges that a transformation of this size can bring.”
Standard Chartered is about halfway through the transformation of its talent acquisition function, and Lodder said that the results so far have been good.
“We still have a long way to go, particularly in the adoption of the new technology, and in driving some of the bigger organisational shifts like manager self-service, but we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.
“In-house recruitment teams have traditionally been built on number of jobs filled, but that’s not a good way to measure quality, and it doesn’t recognise the complexity in the job of a recruiter, especially in an organisation like a bank.
“Our international graduate programme is really popular; we normally get over 100,000 applications for about 200 jobs”
“We are building a model that will allow us to deploy recruitment resources where they are most needed – be it recruiting for financial crime & surveillance professionals in China, bank tellers in Ghana, or traders in Singapore.
“That’s not easy, but it’s worth doing, and with this transformation programme we’re making steps towards that,” he said.
Building on graduate recruitment success
Standard Chartered built its current talent acquisition transformation strategy on the success of its graduate recruitment program transformation, where the main focus was on making the application process feel like a conversation.
“Graduates make lots of applications to different graduate schemes, so we wanted to be able to make ours feel like a two-way thing, and give the graduates something in return,” he said.
“Graduate recruitment is always a numbers game, and our international graduate programme is really popular; we normally get over 100,000 applications for about 200 jobs.
“So, for graduates we needed a technology infrastructure that would allow us to manage that volume as well as personalise the experience.
“We take pride in being a human organisation, so we don’t want people to feel like they’re being ‘processed’.”
Accordingly, Lodder explained that the bulk of automated communications was carefully configured and feedback was offered at every stage of the talent acquisition process.
“It takes a lot of hard work and research for a graduate to make a good application, so we wanted to say thanks by offering our applicants personalised feedback on their test results, and some broader insight on what those test results told us about them,” he said.
The tests focus on cognitive capability but also on strengths as well as fit to the organisation: “We are immensely proud of our diversity, so we needed an assessment platform that reflects that,” he said.