Press Release: December 15, 2017
Faced with an ageing workforce and a high volume elf recruitment drive within a tight timeframe necessitated a recruitment overhaul for the North Pole. Our latest case study shows how the North Pole used Video Interviewing to help redefine what it means to be an elf.
About North Pole
The North Pole (NYSE:NPLTD), home to the most sophisticated manufacturing and logistics outfits in the world, conceives, develops, packages and ships a diverse range of products to almost 2 billion children across more than 200 million square miles in a single day. A workload unachievable to even the most ferocious corporations, their zero defects policy adds to the complexity of the operation. While many industries can support single digit system downtime, ‘failure to deliver’ is not an option in this industry with both the potential emotional damage and adverse viral marketing effects of Santa no-shows.
NP employs more than 37,300 full-time elves in its Global Operations Centre in the Arctic and approximately 40,000 elves on seasonal/flexible contracts at point-of-sale sites at Winter Wonderlands, commercial grottos and across the more recent elf on the shelf initiative. While NP enjoys a staff turnover of less than 3%, well below industry peers, they are facing a recruitment black hole in terms of an ageing workforce.
In July this year, HR estimated that almost 10% of HQ staff are within months of reaching the retirement age of 250 years. Facing this volume of recruitment in such a short time frame necessitated serious thinking outside the (selection) box. Furthermore, a need for more diversity had been signposted in NP’s HR strategy review. A pilot programme investigating the potential of AI and robotics was deemed unsuccessful following feedback such as ‘too mechanical’ and ‘lacking Christmas spirit’.
Sourcing and attracting elves to relocate to the North Pole is no mean feat – an onerous task of isolating genuine candidates from the inundation of both bogus applications and ‘want-to-be’ elves, a cohort who like the idea of ‘elf’ work but lack the required acumen.
The need to maintain absolute confidentiality in terms of the head office location and identity of the CEO adds to the complexity. Prior to their adoption of asynchronous video interviewing, successful applicants were invited to an Assessment Centre directly from the application stage.
Less than 20% attendance and an average offer rate of 10% made this a time-consuming and costly recruitment exercise.
Furthermore, the incessant presence of the paparazzi looking for the ‘scoop of the century’ was found to have an adverse effect on the candidate experience, who did not appreciate the attention on their way to and from interview.
Video interviewing is now being used as an essential second stage of their remote hiring process, resulting in a better candidate selection and massive time savings.
“These video interviews really bring the paper applications to life. You can see their improvisation skills, their passion for toy making, the depths of their Christmas spirit. It makes it so much easier to assess for likely culture fit.”
Lead Engineer Christmas Cheer at Santa’s Workshop
Enabling ‘Career Elf’ Selection
“Video interviewing has enabled NP to identify ‘the career elf’. We’re looking for ‘long termers’ – folk that are willing to stay with us for a couple of hundred years. Video allows us to assess for career longevity.”
Mandy Candycane, Executive VP of Talent Herding, agrees:
“We’re happy enough with a forty or fifty-year tenure with the freelancers and contractors on site. At risk of sounding ageist, those client facing roles are really a young person’s game, they come in straight from education and see the grotto as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.”
NP have been using the video introduction functionality to hammer home this message and find it invaluable in demonstrating their interest in career elves.
The Evolving Elf
While millennials for most corporate recruiters are defined as those born in the latter years of the 20th century, NP classifies millennials as either first or second. However, the pace of technological change over the past half century has necessitated an entirely different skill set. Children today, no longer happy to while away hours with a spinning top or rag doll, want smart toys and in order to satisfy this demand, NP need a smarter, highly skilled workforce. Pressure from corporate for a more diverse workforce has necessitated the removal of ‘birth right elf status’ with applications now open to anyone wishing to pursue a career at NP.
“These video interviews have forced us to rethink what it is to be an elf. Having removed the entry criteria, we’re seeing elf acumen from the most unlikely backgrounds and I’m personally delighted to see NP open to anyone that shares our ethos, irrespective of genetic makeup.”
HR Business Partner at Elf Etiquette
NP has witnessed a six-fold increase on the Assessment Centre conversation rates (60% increase from 10%).
However, the greatest improvement has been found in the attendance rate jumping from 20% to 95%.
The introduction of video interviewing has made it easier to assign candidates to the ‘naughty or nice’ list earlier in the recruitment process.
“Sonru has reduced our recruitment costs exponentially, our time to hire is at a record low and we have managed to safeguard our privacy. Video interviewing has exceeded our expectations not to mention full integration with TEE (the Elf Edition of our enterprise ATS) within 4 weeks.”
President, Iterative Iterations and Ideation
Unanimous Positive Feedback
Video interviewing has proved hugely popular both internally and among candidates.
“It is great to see the NP recruitment function joining the 21st century. From now on, I will insist on using the video interviews – no more low-shows at Assessment Centres, no more unsuitable candidates, just better elf selection.”
Head, Not all fun and games department
“NP’s use of this technology has renewed my passion for the company. I’ll admit the lack of modernisation of the recruitment function had been leading to low elf esteem.”
Despite initial pushback from the hiring managers, NP’s attitude to video interviewing has come full circle.
With an 87% completion rate, ten points above the Sonru system average, and with 95% of candidates surveyed saying they would complete a video interview in the future, the candidate experience is at an all-time high.
NP are pleased with the positive impact on their employer brand and have plans to roll out video interviewing across all corporate roles. While a full recruitment cycle has not yet been completed so close to year end, NP CEO S. Claus concludes: “It’s perhaps premature to comment but early indicators are very positive.”
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