Rachel Robins |

At the In-House Recruitment Live 18 event we had the pleasure of introducing to the stage Emma Whitehouse, Head of HR Business Partnering Taverns & Lease, PB & R from Marston’s PLC who shared with the audience their EVP journey to attracting and retaining talent. Here’s what we learnt….

Marston’s PLC are steeped in history with a 180-year heritage, a strong national brand, growing portfolio and over 14,000 employees!

Emma joined the business when it was about to commence on a journey of deploying a new website and ATS. She could see the project had been approached in the same way as their recruitment teams had been set up – in silo’s, so a host of sessions were held to understand the recruitment issues and 3 things stood out:

  • There was no clear overall resourcing strategy for Marston’s
  • Lack of EVP – Who is Marston’s?
  • Existing ATS system was not fit for purpose – not digitally enabled or candidate-friendly and reporting was complex

In addition, there was no clear digital strategy; all of these were barriers to recruiting, retaining and developing the best possible people in the industry.

The business operation                                  

Marston’s recruitment is managed across the different business areas, which had meant a siloed approach in the past.

Recruiting for a Team Member for a Pub, is very different to finding a potential business partner to run one of their pubs or to a head brewer to make their beer!

The Managed pubs fall across sub-brands of Destination – Big Food Led Pubs, Premium Bars – Pitcher and Piano, Lost and Found, and then there are around 70 managed sites across our Taverns Division.

Within Taverns itself there are over 1000 self-employed operators that will take on and run one of Marston’s pubs under a variety of agreements; retail, tenancy, leased or franchise. So it’s a complex model!

They knew their careers website needed a lot of work, but felt that they had to peel back the layers to REALLY understand their recruitment issues and challenge. They wanted to distinguish Marston’s and create an EVP that could then filter through the whole talent strategy – from attraction to onboarding and career development.

An ideal world

In an ideal world, Marston’s would have had their EVP in place and that would have helped to develop the careers website and the candidate experience.  However, like many organisations, Marston’s have had to do it in reverse. They knew when approaching an EVP there were lots of areas to review but needed a structured approach if they were to succeed.

How they approached it

The key areas of the programme were:

Binging together key HR and Recruitment representatives from each area of the business, HR Shared Services, IT and Internal Communications.

Uncovering the issues:
As part of the discovery process it was understood that they needed their EVP and ATS/E-recruitment system to marry up else it just wouldn’t work.

The existing ATS wasn’t fit for purpose. It was not mobile responsive and the candidate experience was poor. There were frustrations with the existing Applicant Tracking System not being aligned to future talent and the recruitment workflows were not flexible for each Business Area.

Split into two stages: Phase 1 ATS implementation – a best of breed solution was required to deliver a solid user experience with rapid deployment that could integrate and be flexible to Marston’s requirements. Understanding their target audience, making tweaks to the careers site to enable mobile responsive and search as a priority. Phase 2 would cover redeveloping the careers site, online onboarding, integrations with SAP, SSO and introduction of a vendor portal for Pub Manager’s to support with candidates.

Aligning EVP to the HR agenda, with stretching but realistic timescales.

It was this vision and planning that would see results.


So what has been achieved to date…?

  1. Clear phased path for the EVP programme and what has to be done
  2. Clear values - the essence of Marston’s identity
  3. A revised integrated ATS & E-recruitment platform went live in April, taking just 10 weeks 
  4. Great results in attracting talent and providing a better online candidate experience
  5. A reporting focus –  for example, they now know an average of 48% of applications are completed on mobile devices

“Some of the performance reports have enabled us to really understand our early engagement through our careers site registrations, applications and offers – we can really drill down on what we need to improve on and what is working to engage and recruit candidates who are the perfect fit”

What’s next?

Marston’s candidate journey is by no means complete, they’ve only just started and have work to do around developing the EVP and careers website to continue attracting stronger talent and providing a better online candidate experience. The ATS reporting capability has given them great insight to refine their methods to recruit the best quality hires.

Continuing the journey will also see the Marston’s brand reviewed and further segmentation of their audiences and fine tuning in how to attract them. It’s all working towards making Marston’s ‘the place to be’ as you can see in this short video.

Emma finished her insightful session with key learns and takeaways for the audience – here are her great hints and tips:

• Don’t jump straight to the solution – think about the problem
• It is amazing what can be achieved in a short period with teamwork
• Make sure everyone is on the same page - communication is key
• Make choices that are ‘future proof’ – think beyond your immediate needs
• Integrating careers site to ATS/CRM delivered much more from a user experience
• Candidate personas development for alignment to business functions
• EVP is much more than Employer Brand
• Reporting was critical

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