“Priority” hiring program paying off for HOBAN

“Priority” hiring program paying off for HOBAN Top Line Recruiting priority hiring program paying off for hoban 875 1

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Hoban Recruitment’s award-winning priority hiring program is beating the talent crunch and delivering fair, barrier-free recruitment, says CEO Alison Watts.

The company set up its pathways to employment program to
ensure the team was recruiting from the whole of the community, “and that
our procedures are fair and easily accessible for everybody”, she tells Shortlist.

The process is also barrier-free, Watts adds, noting
recruiters tend to “forget about that” part.

“I mean we forget that if someone’s been out of work
for two or three years, they actually lack confidence. So the pathways to
employment program has been set up to get people into a routine of coming to
work and, most importantly, build their confidence.”

In developing its framework Hoban spoke extensively to the
Australian Network on Disability, becoming accredited in the organisation’s
‘disability confident recruiter program’ in 2019.

As part of that accreditation, the company made sure its
website was fully accessible and in line with best-practice web content
accessibility guidelines (WCAG).

“That involved a number of updates to our website,
which was really valuable, and we pretty much looked at everything that we were
doing – we updated our reference checking process, and even simple things like
when somebody applies, we’re talking to them about their best method for
communication,” Watts says.

“It’s about making little adjustments that are very
straightforward, that literally change people’s lives.”

And it’s ensuring that recruiters are giving the best
service to all talent, “despite the fact that we are getting quite
sizeable numbers of applications and people coming through to us”.

The reaction from her team has been extremely positive,
Watts says. “We created working groups to work through our procedures…
and we created champions of our ‘priority personnel program’ who are able to
educate other team members.”

And every new starter, in all roles, goes through the
disability confident recruiter program, she says.

“It’s also given our internal team a sense of
accomplishment because they recognise that what they’re doing is inclusive and
they are offering pportunities to people.”

“Priority” hiring program paying off for HOBAN Top Line Recruiting Alison Watts CEO

Going “gangbusters”

The priority personnel program has been a huge success for
Hoban, with the company taking home Seek’s award for best diversity, equity and
inclusion initiative at the recent SARAs.

“So far 235 people with disability have been placed in
employment by Hoban in the last two years,” Watts says.

And more than 1,400 people who regarded themselves as
priority personnel have come through the program, including a lot of long-term
unemployed people, she adds.

Many start as temp placements and go on to permanent
employment, with clients “really embracing it”, Watts says.

“It’s a very easy, straightforward pathway if they want
to bring people in as a temporary staff member through Hoban.”

One long-time distribution industry client, for example, was
keen to get its own inclusive program started, so it sought the company’s help.

“It’s brought us closer together because we’ve worked
very much in partnership. We’ve had some learnings along the way and we’ve been
able to educate their hiring managers in how to work with different people who
might have some barriers.”

It’s an approach all recruitment agencies, and employers,
should try, Watts says. “It’s really very straightforward and it’ll open
up a whole world of opportunities that you might not have known existed.”

And in the current candidate-tight market, the diversity and
inclusion initiative has been “a huge plus” for the company, she

“We kind of foresaw that it would be, and ensured that
we were looking at everybody within the marketplace and removing all barriers
to people applying and working with us.”

As a result, business is “booming”, with perm
recruitment well over 40% higher than the same time last year, and “really
going gangbusters at the moment”, Watts says.

“Permanent placements are a significant part of our
business but we’re engaging anywhere around about 3,000 temporary staff on a
daily basis as well.”

Beyond recognition for its inclusive practices, Hoban was
also named the most innovative agency at the SARAs.

“It was really great to be recognised for the work of
our teams and our approach towards innovation. And from Hoban’s perspective,
it’s a competitive market and COVID threw so many curveballs to us… so it was
really ensuring that we stayed ahead of those and adopted strategies and
processes and initiatives that would help us overcome those challenges.”

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