Horseshoe Casino rolled the dice with a high-tech and high-touch RPO solution—and won.
By Lisa Rexroat-Steele
Anyone in HR knows that hiring can be a gamble. When I joined Caesars Entertainment last year, that idea took on special meaning. One of my first priorities was to find nearly 1,800 employees who would ensure a solid return on the company’s $400 million bet that Cincinnati would be a great place to open up our newest Horseshoe Casino, the second Horseshoe Casino planned for Ohio.
As one of the world’s best known and most successful gaming brands, it’s obvious that we have a love of gambling. We also have a 75-year legacy of excellence that dictates
the highest risks to be confined to the gaming floor. That was okay by me. While I had never hired slot attendants or dealers, I certainly had the chops to find good people. What the organization needed was a recruiting solution that could efficiently process the high applicant volumes we anticipated, execute within fairly tight time frames, and deliver a great candidate experience.
While I was new to the organization, I had a wealth of experience to draw upon at Caesars. The company has launched more than 50 successful gaming establishments and employs a workforce of 70,000 on four continents. So my first step was to examine the company’s current talent acquisition process to see how well it would work for the Cincinnati office.
We had launched our newest property less than a month earlier in Cleveland with 1,600 employees. That opening offered a significant advantage in terms of a learning experience. I quickly discovered, however, that there is no perfect blueprint for high-volume hiring. Every new facility opening brings a unique set of challenges.
After completing my research, I could clearly identify the requirements I had to meet and the pitfalls I had to avoid. The pitfalls included:
• Large applicant volumes and tight time frames;
• Lack of technology and resources to efficiently touch and screen all applicants;
• Resource constraints that required an influx of colleagues unfamiliar with the current hiring project and local labor market dynamics;
• Inability to get to know all candidates beyond their applications;
• Inconsistency in the candidate experience; and
• Scheduling burdens, both for the company and for candidates.
Based on the company’s experience staffing other properties—and given substantial community expectations of job creation and economic prosperity—we knew that how we handled recruiting would be a key contributor to how we were viewed as a new business partner in Cincinnati. With continuous process improvement a foundational value for Caesars, we looked at ways to enhance our recruiting process. That led to our partnership with Aon Hewitt and a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) engagement. They recommended a project recruiting solution that offered both the scalability and flexibility to accommodate the high volumes and tight time frames we anticipated. As an added bonus, the solution could be ramped up with incredible speed. Within two weeks, we had an efficient process built on innovation and recruiting expertise that incorporated technology accelerators for screening, scheduling, and interviewing.
Improving the Process
The entire process was designed to be fast, efficient, consistent, and convenient, both for candidates and hiring managers. We had developed a customized set of interview questions and calibrated them for the desired responses. This upfront collaboration enabled us to thoroughly and consistently screen and rate candidates in order to single out the high-potential candidates.
The digital interview process allowed candidates to complete their interviews from any device with a webcam, including smartphones and tablets, anytime, anywhere. Clear instructions guided candidates from start to finish. It even had automated diagnostics to test—and optimize— sound and video quality.
The ability to brand the digital interview and embed custom videos allowed us to showcase our employment value proposition. This was particularly important as we were the first gaming establishment in the city and people had lots of questions about our culture, values, and work environment.
Our use of this technology became a selling point of sorts. Candidate feedback showed they thought it was “cool.” The vast majority—92 percent—gave the process a four or more on a scale of 1 to 5 for “ease of use.” Community leaders loved it too. It gave them an opportunity to partner with Horseshoe Cincinnati in prepping potential candidates. After we had provided some initial orientation, they were able to set up their own local workshops where candidates could go for help and advice in putting their best face forward.
Aon Hewitt handled all of the screening, using a highly seasoned team that reviewed, assessed, and rated every digital interview, only passing along the best-qualified candidates to our hiring managers. They estimate that if we had relied upon traditional phone screening methods, this phase alone would have required the full-time focus of nearly 60 recruiters!
Using Aon Hewitt’s proprietary scheduling tool allowed us to fully automate the usually time-consuming task of scheduling interviews. Candidates who had passed the initial screening, assessment, and digital interview phases could self-schedule their in-person interview. In addition to confirming interview times, like a snooze alarm, the tool automatically called candidates with reminders. This ensured a great turnout for us on hiring day.
Over a five-week period, Aon Hewitt’s recruiting team delivered nearly 1,800 quality table games candidates to our casino hiring event. The solution we used allowed us to take advantage of enhanced screening processes, coupled with innovative technology. Horseshoe Cincinnati found the right candidates to fill every job using a project RPO hiring solution that was more cost-competitive—and reflective of our brand—than anything else we had looked at. The use of digital interviews offered a huge advantage. Not only did they ensure fairness and equity, they allowed our hiring managers to use their time more effectively, focusing only on our very best prospects. The combination of high tech and high touch made our approach very efficient and personalized. This process was highly cost effective, both in terms of the initial interview process and the hiring day experience, where fewer interviewing resources were needed and no time was wasted on unqualified prospects.
One unexpected benefit was the close relationships Horseshoe Cincinnati built with community partners throughout the process. With a strong commitment to our new host city, we wanted to transform our recruitment process to reflect our reputation for excellence. We did that and more: The organization initially needed 700 table dealers, we found them, and in the process, gained a whole new perspective on recruitment. On opening day in March 2013, we had our full complement of close to 1,800 total employees ready to greet our guests.
If you ever find yourself in need of a high-volume hiring solution, the risk of going all in may be worth the reward.
Lisa Rexroat-Steele is vice president of human resource for Horseshoe Cincinnati/Caesars Entertainment.
Horseshoe Casino’s Winning Hand:
We did it all in five weeks from project kickoff to on-site hiring event.
We thoroughly screened thousands of candidates in a compressed time frame.
We delivered fully vetted, high-quality candidates.
• Employer branding:
Our tailored videos promoted the casino’s strong brand
and unique employment opportunity.
• Candidate experience:
Our candidates raved about the highly engaging and consistent experience.
From the Provider’s Perspective
Cindy Cutaia, who leads talent acquisition solutions delivery for Aon Hewitt, explains that a growing number of organizations are looking to leverage the recruiting expertise of RPO providers to handle short-term, high-volume hiring requirements. “We have been doing this for decades. Our flexible solutions allow clients to tap into our recruiting process expertise at a scale and price point that work for them. Project recruiting solutions are specifically designed to efficiently process increased applicant volumes within tight time frames. They do not require a multi-year contract or a huge number of hires. They are a more flexible and agile way to leverage RPO expertise at a scale that works for any need. And they offer a high-quality candidate experience that can drive engagement even before the candidate is hired,” she says.