RPO & StaffingTalent Acquisition


Pepsi Bottling Group improves seasonal recruiting results by calling in a New RPO expert.

by Ed Rodriguez

The Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG) hires about 9,500 employees every year for its operations manufacturing, selling, and distributing Pepsi beverages. The bulk of these hires, close to 4,000, is made to gear up for what PBG refers to as the “One Hundred Days of Summer”—by far the busiest time of year for the company.

No stranger to RPO, PBG has outsourced recruitment for several years, but in 2006 it found the endeavor was falling as flat as an old glass of soda in terms of delivery, results, and pricing—the big three when it comes to outsourcing. The previous provider successfully maneuvered the administration of processing thousands of candidates, but fell short when it came to building a true staffing partnership with PBG, leveraging technology to drive process efficiencies, and enacting creative sourcing solutions.

In addition, and perhaps as a result of this, the quality of candidates delivered to the hiring managers did not meet PBG expectations. Recognizing these gaps, PBG decided to end its relationship with its existing RPO vendor and explore new partnership options.

PBG decided the best solution would be to continue outsourcing and ultimately decided to partner with The RightThing, Inc. To ensure success with this partnership, PBG and The RightThing early on established the importance of “getting to know each other.”

As with all its clients, The RightThing engaged in an orientation session to understand and grasp the culture of PBG. But, recognizing the need to go the extra mile to ensure a cultural match, PBG took its new RPO partner through a complete day of the exact orientation that all new PBG hires complete. The training covered expectations, company culture, and a complete overview of the company’s Customer Connect concept, which is PBG’s comprehensive customer service model (including forecasting from production to warehouse to the store shelf.)

In addition to a full day of training, all the members of The RightThing’s PBG account team went to their respective locations and spent three days experiencing a day in the life of PBG employees. Specifically, the RightThing team spent time with current employees in the various jobs they would eventually staff: from delivery drivers to warehouse employees and merchandisers.

Recognizing what could have been done better in its past RPO relationships, PBG wanted to invest the time and effort to educate the company’s new partner on the culture, competition, and fast-paced environment of PBG. The RightThing hires for 27 unique positions, supporting 330 locations and 900 hiring managers throughout the U.S.

To make sure Pepsi reaches its recruitment and hiring goals, The RightThing created a custom hiring model. The RightThing leveraged two separate screens within PBG’s hiring model—a relevant work experience screen and a phone screen. This has helped positively identify the candidates that the hiring managers seek.

Prior to The RightThing’s involvement, the hiring manager’s selection rate was 30 percent (meaning that of all the candidates they interviewed face-to-face, only 30 percent were deemed hirable). Since working with The RightThing, the selection rate has increased to 68 percent.

Specific services provided to PBG under this model also include overall process evaluation and development, enhanced technological solutions, candidate sourcing/recruiting, selection and assessment of candidates, candidate onboarding, and management of all hiring logistics. A key innovation is the HR portal that The RightThing uses to streamline all of PBG’s requisition requests, offer requests, and interview results. This also serves as a depository for key metric reports for PBG.

The RightThing’s hiring model for PBG is particularly focused on being candidate-friendly. It is completely web-based with a focus on being efficient. A toll-free number is provided to candidates to call with questions, and The RightThing provides interviewing options until midnight and on weekends to accommodate all schedules.

As a result of being focused on the candidate and communicating PBG’s culture to the candidates, PBG has dropped its first-day no-show rate from five percent to less than one percent.

With the RPO market continuing to evolve, Pepsi’s experience demonstrated that as the market matures, service providers are escalating their competencies at the same time, enabling buyers to improve their recruitment and hiring success.

Ed Rodriguez, vice president of Organizational Capability and Diversity at the Pepsi Bottling Group, joined PBG as a human resources representative in Southern California in 1995. In 2001, he joined PBG’s corporate HR team as a labor manager negotiating union contracts and developing preventive labor strategies before moving into his current role.

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