RPO & StaffingTalent Acquisition

BAKER’s DOZEN: RECRUITMENT PROCESS OUTSOURCING—Jenny Craig Learns to Adopt A Leaner Recruitment Model

When business is booming, an organization needs more staff. But growing in a hurry can lead to growing pains. By outsourcing recruitment, Jenny Craig left managers free to help clients.

by Peggy Cope

Jenny Craig’s business has been bulking up. And that’s created a problem—a good problem. The weight loss company (having built its brand with the help of an ad campaign featuring “Fat Actress” Kirstie Alley) was racking up new clients so fast that it needed more employees—and lots of them. In fact, it could hardly keep up with its recruiting needs.

Chris Hilker, vice president of human resources and organizational development at Jenny Craig, said, “When we feel the impact of an ad campaign, we require more staff because our client base increases. It’s all linked. The more successful we are, the more recruiting needs we have. So our success led to some pain points, and that’s not entirely a bad problem to have.”

Jenny Craig had taken a traditional approach to recruiting. The company’s field management placed ads in local newspapers where the jobs existed, collected responses via snail-mail and phone calls, tapped community colleges, and participated in job fairs. Each location took its own approach to sourcing, recruiting, and hiring, with varied results. Consistency was a pie-in-the-sky hope at best.

“There was absolutely no standardization,” said Hilker. “That was just one of the scary factors. Nothing was centralized: Picture an environment with over 350 centers, with field management managing the best they could but handling all the recruitment themselves while interfacing with clients.”

The lack of coordination was costing the company. One district field manager might launch a recruiting effort that cost $3,000 and generate only three candidates. Hilker noted that if the effort had been coordinated and operated in a broader geographic base, this could have been avoided. “But we didn’t have that competency at the time,” she noted.

Other pain points included lost productivity. Jenny Craig’s wish list included freeing up field managers to do what they did best: work with clients. “Their primary goal is to help clients lose weight, and we could realize increased productivity by having them focus on what they do best rather than recruitment,” Hilker said.

To develop an internal structure to coordinate hiring efforts would have meant placing HR professionals at more than 350 centers. The company did not have an internal system for that, and it was not technically sophisticated in reporting, tracking, and other recruitment functions for the amount of volume it needed. “That was not a strong competency of ours,” noted Hilker. “It made sense to outsource to someone that does this full-time.”

Jenny Craig turned to PeopleScout. The company looked at several vendors before making its decision to outsource in 2004. The partnership also enabled Jenny Craig to incorporate unique elements, including care calls.

“After someone has been hired, we have a schedule under which PeopleScout will call the individual to follow up and see how they are adapting to Jenny Craig. That information is fed back to my department, where we can take action to rectify any issues identified.”

Care calls also provide a personal touch. “It’s nice to get a call within the first few days at work. If you think of the relationship a recruiter would have with someone they place, they would do the same thing. We have PeopleScout do that for us,” said Hilker. The Chicago-based provider also handles exit interviews.

In addition to better productivity, the company is cutting its cost per hire, including its media spend for advertising. “We have driven the cost per response from $5.30 down to $3 over the evolution of our partnership,” Hilker said. “We’ve decreased the cost of what we would spend on media by 28 percent.”

With PeopleScout technology driving the process, interviews are set through a center’s computer, and the organizations’ systems “talk” to each other to keep the process flowing.

Jenny Craig’s client retention metrics track how long a client stays active and visits a center. Those numbers have improved since the staff has been freed to spend more time with clients.

The company has hired more than 5,000 workers through PeopleScout. Hilker said she looks at the metrics every month to gauge the number of people attracted to Jenny Craig ads, as well as those who are screened. She also compares job descriptions so the interview questions are phrased correctly to draw the right people at the beginning of the process.

PeopleScout uses a script based on parameters and criteria provided by Jenny Craig, and Hilker occasionally visits PeopleScout’s call center, puts on a headset, and listens as calls come in from prospective candidates. Every six months or so, she sits down with Jenny Craig’s VP of operations to look at the reasons why candidates drop out of the hiring process, and make changes accordingly.

Tags: RPO & Staffing, Talent Acquisition

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