Lincolnshire Co-op is a hugely successful and multifaceted business. Its purpose is to bring together ideas, energy and resources to make life better in its communities. Its business outlets consist of food stores, pharmacies, post offices, funeral homes, travel branches, a craft bakery and support services. The Society continues to grow with over 220 outlets, 2,900 colleagues and over 300,000 members.

Lincolnshire Co-op wants to attract and engage with candidates aligned with its purpose. With its diverse make-up of businesses, the approach required to attract the varied candidates for each business area is complex.

The Recruitment Challenge

Lincolnshire Co-op had an outdated talent acquisition strategy that didn’t match the progressive Society it is. Manual recruitment processes and no dedicated recruitment system were barriers to recruiting top talent.

Some of the specific challenges Lincolnshire Co-op wanted to address were:

  1. Processes were cumbersome and required manual posting each vacancy, sorting and sharing CVs with hiring managers and time consuming interview scheduling. Candidate experience was lacking. The careers site didn’t convey relevant content to connect with candidates or showcase what the Society has to offer and brings to local communities. The careers site also lacked flexibility for multi-business areas customisation.
  2. Candidate experience was lacking. The careers site didn’t convey relevant content to connect with candidates or showcase what the Society has to offer and brings to local communities. The careers site also lacked flexibility for multi-business areas customisation.
  3. Collaborating with hiring managers was difficult without the dedicated tools required for a transparent and consistent approach.
  4. Lack of recruitment data to drive decision-making and determine priorities for improvement.

The pandemic changed the shape of recruiting for Lincolnshire Co-op with its multiple essential businesses. The changes prompted an internal review of how to develop an effective and future-proof talent acquisition strategy.

The Approach To Improve

Stakeholder reviews took place to understand what was required to align the talent acquisition and recruitment strategy to the Society strategy for the foreseeable future. The reviews uncovered multiple pain points of the existing recruitment processes, the benefits recruitment technology could bring and how to embrace candidate attraction. Also considered was the geographical location of its business outlets, the talent pool available and how to refine candidate attraction methods to deliver the best talent available.

A project team was formed of a representation from across Lincolnshire Co-op. The purpose was to identify the project priorities and conduct market research to find and implement a best-in-class, configurable ATS to streamline and modernise the Society’s approach to recruitment.

The process included collaboration with other Co-operative organisations to develop a list of requirements to better place Lincolnshire Co-op to recruit top talent.

Following market evaluation of best-of-breed Talent Acquisition platforms, Lincolnshire Co-op selected Eploy’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and Recruitment CRM to support its plan.

“Eploy could support our requirements and were flexible to our timescales. It was designed specifically for what we needed as a business and agile for our future needs.

“We were able to configure Eploy’s ATS technology to transform our talent acquisition strategy combining the brand across our candidate touchpoints”. - Matt Brown, Resourcing Manager, Lincolnshire Co-op.

The implementation process with Eploy allowed the team to design the hiring workflows with the candidate, hiring manager and company culture in mind. Eploy delivered dedicated portals that provide completely web-based access across the recruitment process, all aligned to Lincolnshire Co-op brand.

This unified look and feel of the careers site encourages candidates to engage and see where their career with Lincolnshire Coop could begin in one of the many business outlets and colleague opportunities.

The implementation included Eploy’s Candidate Portal to improve the candidate experience. The candidate portal is seamlessly integrated into the careers site to continue the unified look and feel as a candidate’s journey progresses. Candidates can search for vacancies by business area, location of trading areas, vacancy type and distance radius and by map view. Once a candidate applies online, they can track their application, join the talent pool to receive relevant career alerts, and accept job offers, all from one central hub.

Hiring Managers had not used an ATS before Eploy. Hiring was a time consuming manual process that lacked consistency and the ability to track recruitment progress. Eploy’s Hiring Manager Portal is now embraced by Hiring Managers who are brought into the process to work more effectively with the recruitment team. Together the teams are aligned to move candidates through the process, ensuring consistency and keeping recruitment on track and on time.

Results and Improvements

“Once we launched Eploy we immediately saw the benefits, receiving many more applications and driving down the cost of recruitment. The implementation of Eploy was well received by our stakeholders, colleagues and hiring managers who now have greater visibility of the improved candidate pool.

“Candidates now have a greatly enhanced experience. We have moved from a completely manual process to an automated one that conveys relevant content to connect with candidates and showcase what the Society has to offer.

Our careers site is the hub for our direct recruitment model that highlights our brand and what it means to be part of Lincolnshire Co-op.”


• Improved recruitment processes and workflows that eliminate bottlenecks in the process.
• An on-brand careers site reflective of Society colleagues, telling their story of what it is like to work for the Co-op.
• Improved candidate engagement using bespoke automated emails that embody the ethos of Lincolnshire Co-op brand. Candidates are kept informed at every stage of the journey with personalised communications.
• Greater collaboration with colleagues across the business to work towards a unified goal.
• Reduced agency usage through a direct recruitment model.
• Tangible recruitment data that supports decision making to drive the recruitment strategy.
• Time saving across manual processes. Previously, emails and letters were produced manually. This has resulted in time being reallocated to value-added activity.
• Improved onboarding process, eliminating manual processes and paperwork. Eploy’s onboarding module provides a consistent journey from the initial website visit to the recruitment stages and onboarding into the business.

All contributing to a total focus on a fantastic candidate experience!

These achievements have saved several hours each week by eradicating time-consuming processes, with a significant cost saving to the business and savings on recruitment agencies:

  1. 11 day reduction in time to hire
  2. 200% increase in completed applications and an understanding of application drop-off
  3. Trebled applications per vacancy 
  4. Most successsful sourcing channels and full understanding of the candidate funnel
  5. Improved position as an employer of choice, with a clear brand proposition throughout the careers site.
Lincolnshire Co-op has invested in talent attraction and talent development, growing the team to four dedicated recruitment team members.

Each team member has a role within the central support team to deliver the strategic vision to successfully attract, onboard and retain talent. As a team they are always trying to deliver something new and strive for excellence.

“We previously struggled with data, accuracy and implementing changes to our recruitment & TA processes but are now in a completely different position. Recruitment metrics within Eploy are part of our day-to-day activity. This drives our recruitment strategy forward with areas of focus for continued innovation.” - Matt Brown, Resourcing Manager, Lincolnshire Co-op

You can find out more about Lincolnshire Co-op careers here:

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