One of the highlights of any decent industry event is the chance to meet and chat with real-world practitioners about how they deal with the issues they face in their businesses. An event that always delivers on that score is UNLEASH (formerly HR Tech World), which next takes place October 23-24 in Amsterdam. Here's a transcript of a video I recorded at last year's event about how high-street eyecare specialist Specsavers finds talent to join its 30,000-strong workforce.
Phil: I'm with Kenneth Renneberg, Head of Candidate Attraction Northern Europe from Specsavers. Can you say a few words about the organization, what you do?
Kenneth: Specsavers is a family owned business. Started a little bit over 30 years ago in Guernsey. We have around 30,000 employees across 10 countries. We are a franchise chain. That means that our stores are normally driven by an optician as a partner and a retailer as a partner. And the service includes spectacles, contact lenses and hearing aids.
Phil: And you're faced with the same recruitment issues that many retailers face, but you've taken a different way of going about this.
Kenneth: So one of our biggest problem as a retailer is that not many opticians and audiologists get educated every year. People get older and more people retire and take a pension, than come to us. So it's a huge problem because we also have really aggressive growth strategies of at least 10% every year. But that always means that we need more and more people in our stores as well.
Phil: So, so how do you recruit — is it advertising on billboards?
Kenneth: Literally nobody applies in this business and it's not just a Specsavers problem. It's an industry problem. They all know each other, so they are used to being tapped or introduced into a company. So we have a team of headhunters sitting in some of the countries supporting our recruiters actually tapping people on their shoulders.
Phil: So how do you find these people? What's the secret in actually knowing whose shoulder to tap in the first place?
Kenneth: Persistency is one of them. But also we use social media and also we have created what we call our Green Club. So we have something called Specsavers Green Club where we invite all these professionals to come and join us. It's more something where we say we take care of the people in the industry, give them education and learning. You don't have to be a Specsavers employee for doing that.
Phil: So basically you're building a community of people that know about Specsavers and keeping that at the front of their minds as a career potential and opportunity.
Kenneth: Yes. And as these people go through an education at the universities, we try to give them something else. Well you know, universities are very focused on being clinical. But if you have to be in a store after you've been clinical for three years, it sometimes is very different. So we try to give them some courses over the three years that actually prepare them a little bit better for coming out and being in the store. Not necessarily in a Specsavers though, but still having that in mind.
Phil: There's one other thing I wanted to ask you about because you're a global organization, you work a lot through franchising. So I guess standardizing how people go about recruitment and retention is a big challenge as well?
Kenneth: Yes it is, because you've got cultural differences in each country, but also because we are a franchise chain it's very hard to do a best practice through all of the countries. We have quarterly meetings where everybody from recruitment meets across the globe to see if we can find common best practices. We try to say that 80% of what we do can be done globally and then you have the variation of what you do. We don't always hit the target, but we are all professionals and trying to do the best we can for each of the countries that we operate in.
Phil: What more can you say than that, that's a good philosophy. Kenneth Renneberg, thank you very much for joining us from Specsavers at HR TechWorld today.
Endnote: The full video from which this was transcribed is below: