Part of FTSE100 Ashtead Group plc, Sunbelt Rentals recently launched their rebrand in the UK and Ireland, having previously been known as A-Plant (along with nearly 20 other specialist business units). Now they are unified as one team and one brand, working towards one collective vision; to own the future of rental.

To continue to build fantastic teams of highly engaged people, they have made improvements not only to their joined-up business strategy but also how they attract, engage and nurture candidates with a revised recruitment strategy.

Having implemented Eploy’s ATS & e-recruitment platform, branded internally as Aspire, they have made some significant progress over the past year in delivering a dedicated in-house resourcing model.

Uncovering the recruitment requirement

Tracy Edwards joined the business as Recruitment Manager with the remit to define a recruitment strategy and develop an in-house direct sourcing model through a recruitment function that handles Sunbelt Rentals UK & Ireland volume and specialist recruitment with quality candidates and a first-class candidate experience.

Prior to this, there was no in-house recruitment function or recruitment expertise. Recruitment was administrated by the generalist HR team and managed by 300+ divisional managers with minimal guidance and consistency.

An initial review was undertaken and the following areas identified that needed to be addressed:

• Recruitment levels were high volume with over 700 vacancies per year and there were multiple routes for candidates to apply.
• Applications and CV’s were received by email and via job boards and any tracking and activity that took place was in silo’s and managed manually via spreadsheets.
• The candidate experience was poor with no consistency in the application process. It wasn’t designed to engage or communicate with candidates throughout the process, with little communication to candidates regarding receipt of application or status updates and outcomes.
• The Hiring Manager experience was a key factor in rethinking the recruitment process. With over 190 depots and no centralised in-house recruitment or HR function, consistency was needed to help Hiring Managers with their recruitment locally.
• There was a high reliance and spend on Agencies. Contractual issues were common, with multiple Agencies used by Hiring Managers and no PSL in place or up-to-date terms and conditions. Issues existed with duplicate candidates, candidate ownership and un-negotiated charge rates.

In order to deliver an in-house direct recruitment model there was a critical need for a central recruitment ATS/platform. This would be the catalyst for a recruitment process review to start a recruitment function from scratch that would bring not only process and hiring efficiencies but support Sunbelt Rentals on the next stage of its journey.

Recruitment would be managed through a dedicated in-house recruitment function that would provide the necessary tools to bring together the Recruitment Team, HR Team, Agencies/PSL, Hiring Managers and Candidates to handle and process recruitment in a professional, consistent, transparent and fair way for everyone involved.

The proposed recruitment strategy was presented to the Executive Team who approved the new approach alongside the introduction of a new internal recruitment recharge. The recharge was introduced as a self-funding model, whereby roles sourced by the in-House Team would be charged to the business to cover supplier, marketing and system costs.

Implementing a new approach

Sunbelt Rentals chose Eploy’s E-recruitment system as the starting point to provide the tools to handle recruitment in-house and engineer recruitment processes to deliver a fit for purpose talent acquisition strategy for the UK/Ireland. To support the company culture, values and internal mobility, Eploy was branded internally as ‘Aspire’. The recruitment platform is used to advertise internal vacancies across the teams, syncing this with a Staff App called ‘Interaction’ to promote the latest career opportunities and encourage employee referrals.

A standalone candidate careers site was launched to portray the company culture and employer brand values to improve the candidate experience, reflecting what it’s like to work with Sunbelt Rentals. Online applications and candidate registration for job alerts are now fully automated, improving the speed to register and apply. Relationships and contracts with job boards have been reviewed and redefined. Multiposting functionality within the core platform has reduced duplication and administration time in uploading job vacancies to job boards and allows the tracking of media channels and results.

Designed with Hiring Managers in mind

The recruitment process is designed for Hiring Managers who use the Eploy Hiring Manager portal for full responsibility for the recruitment workflow and autonomy of the process for sifting, interviewing and creating offers. Support and guidance from a ‘how to’ perspective is from a central Recruitment function and a Hiring Manager Toolkit.

Hiring Managers have been supported with a comprehensive training programme. As part of the Sunbelt Rentals Management Development portfolio a blended learning approach, in-house e-learning package and live webinars has been introduced for Managing the Recruitment and Selection process fairly and effectively.

“Feedback from our delegates has been incredibly positive and it is encouraging to see that, as a consequence of Covid-19, we are able to provide remote methods of skills development - rather than traditional face-face classroom-based training”. Tracy Edwards, Recruitment Manager, Sunbelt Rentals

Realising the benefits

A tender process was undertaken to establish a new PSL. This has reduced the number of Agency suppliers to 7, with agreed SLA’s and T&C’s in place and utilising the Eploy Vendor Portal to manage and monitor the effectiveness of the PSL.

A clear pre-employment screening process and complete online on-boarding process was introduced to streamline and reduce delays at offer stage. Candidates now receive and accept their job offer within a matter of minutes, rather than waiting an average of 5 days for the offer pack to arrive in the post, complete paperwork and return by post to HR. Reference requests are automated and once the candidate commences in post their details are automatically exported to the Payroll Team.

Eploy is providing ‘real-time’ visibility of all recruitment activity. Any data captured through the process can be reported on to understand bottlenecks, areas for improvement, costs and sharing regular insights to business leaders.

The Recruitment Team are now recognised as a value-add service to the business. Positive feedback on the new recruitment system and approach has been received at all levels of the business. A full re-brand and re-design of the careers website from A-Plant to Sunbelt Careers was completed, just a few months following the original launch.

The Results so far...

• The ATS system was successful implemented within the project budget and timescales with positive feedback from the Hiring Manager community and 100% compliance for the new recruitment process through a clearly defined process and system.
• Significantly reduced administration tasks and time demonstrated through automation of process for both HR users and Hiring Managers.
• Process efficiencies have been delivered through increased automation and functionality with the ATS system.
• External offers are now fully managed online rather than paper packs and postage – saving significant printing costs, postage, time and issues with missing paperwork and delays to start dates.
• Full utilisation of the ATS has ensured that Sunbelt Rentals are fully GDPR compliant.
• Cost per Hire, Time to Hire and Turnover rates have reduced significantly and targets are in place to continue to maximise efficiencies
• Sunbelt have established and engaged with a talent pool of over 21,000 people who are registered on Sunbelt Rentals UK portal.
• Over 300 vacancies filled in the 6 months since the ATS was launched.
• A significant reduction in agency usage and spend has been delivered – over 93% of vacancies are filled by direct source and agency spend has reduced significantly
• The internal recharge covered all external supplier recruitment costs in 2020 - including LinkedIn Recruiter licences and the implementation and licence costs of the core platform.
• Candidate communications have been significantly improved. For example, during the pandemic over 4,000 candidates who had a live job application with Sunbelt Rentals were communicated with – without the ATS this would not have been possible.
• A clear ROI on channels and overall spend is in place through the introduction of a robust budgeting process and partnership approach with the Sunbelt Procurement Team. Having the ability to accurately track which media channels are working successfully and where quality candidates are being sourced from, ensures spend is optimised.
• An internal career opportunities and application process has been launched for existing employees.

“Our Recruitment Team have made massive progress over the past year in delivering a new in-house direct source model and a totally revamped and professional approach to recruitment which will pay dividends as we continue to progress the function and our strategy. All in all, a great year’s work which we can build on for the future as we embed our values and vision for Sunbelt Rentals and work towards our ambition to be the Employer of Choice in the Hire Industry.” Steve Lynas HRD Sunbelt Rentals

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