How Roy Hill attracts and recruits the best talent in mining

Jon Bowker , head of recruitment for Roy Hill, says talent acquisition has been particularly important for the iron ore project

A unique approach to talent acquisition and the use of talent community technology have helped Iron ore mining project Roy Hill rapidly scale up its workforce, reducing time to hire, improving productivity and boosting diversity, according to Roy Hill’s head of recruitment, Jon Bowker.

Roy Hill is an integrated iron ore mining, rail and port operation in the Pilbara region of West Australia, and with iron ore reserves of more than 2.4 billion tonnes, it is set to become one of the largest mining projects in Australia producing 55 million tonnes of iron ore per annum over more than 20 years.

The project, which is 70 per cent owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, requires significant manpower and Bowker explained that a different approach was required to help resource the project successfully.

“The existing HR technology of traditional ATS databases typically limits the capacity of an internal recruitment function to provide a truly proactive solution, and is therefore heavily reactive in its recruitment outcomes,” said Bowker, who was speaking ahead of the HR Innovation & Tech Fest, which will be held from 27-28 November 2017 at the Hilton Sydney.

Traditional ATS systems can also have the effect of ‘de-humanising’ the candidate experience by delivering automated messages to candidates with very little interaction or connection, he explained.

Roy Hill has recently gone from a construction phase into production phase, ramping up its employee numbers to around 1750 staff, with hundreds more to be hired over the coming 12-18 months (with the large majority of workers employed on a full-time basis, and a small percentage of contractors).

Bowker said Roy Hill’s new approach to talent acquisition has been markedly different to traditional recruitment methods, and this approach has provided four noticeable benefits:

  • Providing more opportunity for internal recruiters to connect and form relationships with people
  • Recruiting in a more proactive manner to reduce time to hire
  • Improving productivity, and
  • Focusing on quality of hire and diversity initiatives.

“The key to our success in this approach has been the buy-in from our leadership and recruitment function”

Roy Hill set up a talent community about two months ago (based on LiveHire) and Bowker said this has provided a number of other benefits, including reduction of agency and job board costs; enhancing the employment brand; and improving job satisfaction among recruiters by allowing them more time to add value to a process, rather than administering a process.

The platform integrates into SuccessFactors, and Bowker said he expects hard numbers to change significantly in the coming months.

“Early indicators are showing that time to hire is on a downward trend (our aim is 15 days, from an average of 45-60),” he said.

“Productivity improvements are a direct result of a reduced time to hire.

“We’re starting to measure the quality of hire (turnover in the first six months) but this is a lag indicator and won’t really be visible until 6 to 12 months later.”

Diversity is also trending upwards, currently at between 20 to 25 per cent – up from 18 to 20 per cent in recent months.

“The key to our success in this approach has been the buy-in from our leadership and recruitment function,” he said.

“We have also recognised the importance of technology integration to ensure there is a seamless experience for our candidates and for our recruiters using the technology to gain the most benefits from it.”

Roy Hill is also promoting the talent community to various social platforms, referral and alumni programs, and other mediums to ensure growth of the talent ecosystem.

“We were thrilled that within the first two weeks of launching our talent community, more than 30,000 candidates had completed their online profiles and raised their hands to seek a Roy Hill opportunity,” said Bowker.

“We have also completed a bulk recruitment campaign in record time, shaving almost four weeks off the average time to hire”

One of the more significant benefits of Roy Hill’s approach to talent acquisition is sourcing ‘hard to find’ talent – saving time and money on recruitment initiatives.

“We have also completed a bulk recruitment campaign in record time, shaving almost four weeks off the average time to hire for a campaign of this nature,” he said.

Female participation in the mining and resources sector is about 18 per cent of the workforce, and while Roy Hill is slightly above industry average, Bowker said the project is aiming to improve on these results.

Using the talent community technology, 85 per cent of positions in a recent bulk recruitment campaign were filled by female candidates.

“While this could have been achieved within a traditional ATS, it would have required online advertisements and screening through potentially hundreds of resumes, adding weeks to the timeframe,” said Bowker.

Regarding longer-term talent management outcomes, he said Roy Hill is in a stronger position to fully develop pipelines of quality talent without the need to repeatedly advertise vacancies.

“Additionally, we can use this technology to identify our internal talent seeking alternative career development opportunities which will increase employee retention and enhance our company culture,” he said.

“We are implementing this technology in an agile way thanks in part to the type of organisation that we are.

“So far, our recruiters, the business and the candidates are highly receptive to this new form of talent technology.”

Bowker added that Roy Hill is also looking at other platforms to assist with volume recruiting, which incorporates video interview technology and upfront assessment technology to better assess people for values fit.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what sort of responses we get from particularly the blue-collar workers to those sorts of technologies as well,” he said.

“So far they’ve been very receptive to them.”

“Our recruiters, the business and the candidates are highly receptive to this new form of talent technology”

Bowker said that Roy Hill encourages new concepts and new ideas: “as we can only mine a certain amount of minerals out of the ground and we’ve got a set capacity, so we need to continually look at innovation and improvement to enhance our bottom line.”

Iron ore mining can be a difficult environment for workers, and retention of talent is also a focus for Roy Hill.

“We’re thinking about it constantly – how we can improve not only our work environment, but support to people who are with the organisation to stay long-term,” he said.

“Certainly turnover tends to be higher in any mining operation; we’re trying to look outside the square, so to speak, in relation to finding people that could potentially fit that environment.

“We’re also very focused on getting referrals and providing opportunities for families, such as husbands and wives, to work together.

“We try to recruit people who we believe are going to fit our organisational culture and work collaboratively with each other,” he said.

Jon Bowker will be speaking at the HR Innovation & Tech Fest, which will be held from 27-28 November 2017 at the Hilton Sydney. Use the code InsideHR to secure a $500 discount on the standard rate (for HR practitioners only). Image: supplied