HR Excellence Awards 2008: Most effective recruitment and retention - Aegon

As part of one of the world's largest life insurance and pension firms, Aegon (UK) sits in a market facing increasing skills shortages together with heightened competition for talent and ongoing attrition, resulting in higher costs and potentially compromised business performance.

To help the company attract, engage and retain customer service people, the HR team created the Pipeline Project. Launched in March 2007, it included better resource planning to inform Aegon how many people are needed and when, with the ability to flex up or down. A new recruitment strategy saw it target passive candidates as well as active jobseekers. At the recruitment stage, newly-designed salary progression models show candidates how their salary may increase over the next few years. At the end of their first 12 weeks, successful employees can choose a reward to the value of £125.

Some 360 staff have now gone through Pipeline. In just 12 months, the project has achieved a 70% reduction in time to hire, a 33% reduction in cost per hire, a 50% improvement in first-year retention and estimated savings of £220,000 on recruitment and £450,000 on retention.

Judges were impressed with the project's comprehensive approach, as well as its keen fit with Aegon's business strategy. They were particularly impressed with the metrics used to monitor progress.

Applicant-to-offer rate has risen from 8% to 11%, interview to offer conversion from 25% to 57% and direct applicants from 50% to 75%, of which 25% of hires are from the referral scheme.


- Cable & Wireless

Cable & Wireless designed 'New Way for New Starters' to engage new talent before joining and reduce the time taken to get up to speed. An online career portal helped boost retention of new starters in the first three months and lifted applications by 44%.

- Paul UK

Bakery and patisserie Paul UK faced high staff turnover and no employer branding. Robust recruitment, an HR toolkit and internal reward schemes, such as Find a Buddy, reduced turnover by 30%, boosted retention by 10% and improved candidate quality.

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