LV=’s history goes all the way back to 1843, when it began life as a burial society for working-class Liverpudlians. Policyholders could insure their life, or the lives of their children, for the sum of one penny per week, and the ‘Liverpool Independent Legal Victoria Burial Society’, as it was then known, would take care of their funeral costs.
Now, with more than 5.7 million customers, LV= offers car, home, pet and travel insurance, as well as life insurance. Headquartered in the Westbourne area of Bournemouth, the firm has more than 6,000 employees working in 16 offices across the UK.
It was as far back as 2007 when it became clear to LV=’s group head of resourcing Kevin Hough that its recruitment strategy needed a life-saving intervention.
“Our recruitment was very siloed,” he tells HR magazine. “There were recruiters who focused on life insurance, and others on general insurance. Some recruited only for head office roles, and others searched out customer service representatives, and there was little communication between them.”
The team tended to focus on what Hough describes as a ‘post and pray’ method: posting an ad for a role on a job board, and hoping the right candidates approached them.
“We needed to focus on upskilling the team,” says Hough. “We felt that the team was so busy delivering their targets that we didn’t have any time to develop them.”
So LV= needed a revamp of the methods it was using to recruit. “We needed to work with candidates, and start to build a talent pipeline,” Hough explains. “We needed a solid media strategy to bring our culture at LV= to life.”
Insurance firms often suffer from an old-fashioned, stuffy and serious image, something Hough knew LV= would need to shake off. “We knew we were a great place to work; we just needed to get that message out there,” he says. “The culture here is amazing; it is one you cannot bottle. We needed to have that resonate with our audience somehow.”
One of the first stages in turning around LV=’s recruitment was a total restructuring of its hiring team. Rather than dividing recruitment between the different markets, the individuals in the team adopted business functions.
“When people came to our website, they weren’t really interested in which section of the business they were applying for,” Hough explains. “First and foremost, they wanted to find out if we had a job suitable for them.”
Recruiters were able to get an understanding of their function, and ensured candidates had one dedicated point of contact to improve efficiency. “They have developed much stronger and deeper relationships with the line managers they are working with,” says Hough. “It was clear to see the real value this restructuring was adding to the business.”
To help instil the new skills the team would need, LV= provided a number of training programmes focused on subjects such as market-leading direct sourcing techniques, building talent pools, effectively engaging with passive candidates and getting the most out of LinkedIn for recruitment. And every member of the team has their own development plan to show their potential future path within the company.
LV=’s social media presence also needed a refresh. A key breakthrough came from the realisation that different social media websites tend to be used for job hunting by different candidates. Facebook followers are typically most interested in customer service roles, while LinkedIn was found to work a lot more effectively for finance and technology roles. Using this insight, the team could tailor their approach to each specific business function efficiently and effectively.
Similarly, LV= realised its jobs website needed to display different imagery depending on the candidate’s search. “We can have specific campaigns for IT, finance, or for customer service roles,” says Hough. “Not every job is the same, so we can target our material to show what that particular function in LV= is really like.”
An overall recruitment materials rebrand supported this bespoke approach. “At recruitment fairs, people often would walk right by us, because they would assume we weren’t right for them,” says Hough. “We had to show we need marketers, digital professionals, and many other professionals.”
So the recruitment team worked closely with the brand guidelines team to come up with a new strategy that would appeal to their desired audience. “We didn’t think what we had at the time really showed what it feels like to work at LV=,” Hough says. “We decided to ignore the brand guidelines, and see what we could create. It could have gone wrong, but we found a way to help our stakeholders understand exactly what we wanted to be.”
The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to establishing the effectiveness of these measures. Since February 2015, LV=’s dedicated careers website has seen a 32% increase in applications. In 2014, 20% of group risk hires taken on by LV= were made through third parties, but by 2015, only 6% were. The number of finance and actuarial third-party hires was halved in the same period; in HR this dropped from 5% to 2%, and in technology from 14% to 8%.
Since the social media strategy launch, online followers for the brand has increased by 143%, and LV=’s presence on organisation review website Glassdoor has grown substantially. “We have reviews we are proud of on Glassdoor, but there are of course some reviews that we aren’t proud of on there,” Hough explains. “However, it is all about authenticity. You cannot hide things on social media, so we use them to learn from our mistakes and improve.”
The social media strategy is now an integral part of the company’s approach to recruitment. “We use social media to be brave, and do things people wouldn’t expect,” Hough adds, explaining that this extends to LV=’s overall job advertising approach, with the insurer running adverts on music-streaming and sharing service Spotify.
“This is a new medium for us to try out,” says Hough. “We hope our target demographic will be thinking ‘Wow, a financial firm is contacting me through Spotify; that’s quite funky.’ We just need to make people stop and think.”
The overhaul resulted in LV=’s team winning the Most Effective Recruitment Strategy award, sponsored by Sonicjobs, at this year’s HR Excellence Awards. But the recruitment journey will not end here. “We need to take time to celebrate our successes, true, but we also need to look beyond them,” Hough says. “The world is always changing, so if you stop innovating and remain static, you get left behind.”