13 Nov High Volume Recruitment at G’s Fresh
G’s Group, based at Barway near Ely, was one of the national FMCG firms which joined the Pick for Britain campaign, calling for students, furloughed and unemployed people to fill fruit and vegetable picking jobs when lockdown restrictions prevented many of the usual European workforces from doing so.
In September Hayley Murfitt, Director of Sales at Neaves & Neat, sat down with Charlotte Downing, Head of Talent and Resourcing at G’s Fresh, on the East Anglia Business Webinar, to talk about high volume recruitment during the pandemic. When lockdown was announced on Monday 23 March 2020, Downing had only been in her new role for a couple of weeks. And that announcement fundamentally changed how G’s Fresh needed to approach seasonal workforce acquisition.
Downing explains that before she joined the business in early March, G’s Fresh relied heavily on employment agencies to bring people into the business and “did not have a presence in the market when it came to the candidate market in terms of what G’s was all about”.
So, how do you mobilise business to recruit hundreds of seasonal workers with a brand-new internal talent function, a national lockdown and a time crunch?
It’s a team effort
During this period, Downing relied on the G’s Fresh marketing team to produce candidate-driven content in a short timeframe. By utilising marketing to get the message in front of the right candidates, this then allowed Downing to focus on what the process would look like, screening criteria and embedding these processes.
But it was not just marketing who helped Downing. There was assistance from senior stakeholders across the business. The newly formed talent team consisted of members of HR and finance, but not necessarily people who understood recruitment and understand what the process looks like. But what the team lacked in recruitment expertise, they made up for with a passion for wanting to achieve their shared goal.
Have a positive attitude
During the episode, Downing emphasised that she lived G’s Fresh’s corporate values. Those values, especially “can do” were at the core of her recruitment plan. People at G’s Fresh wanted to help Downing with the seasonal recruitment drive. According to Downing, the training of the new team was “really quite intense and complicated because we couldn’t all sit in a room a do a workshop [..] we had to utilise technology and be creative”.
Get out there
You may recall in April, Beverly Dixon, Head of HR at G’s Fresh did a whirlwind media tour to help Downing and the team get their recruitment message out there. Downing explains that very early on they wanted to go for “the big bang approach”. And they found a strong correlation between an increase in applications and media appearances.
Very early on it was clear that some of the application processes weren’t going exactly as planned. As opposed to people applying for vacancies online there was an influx of email and telephone traffic at all of their sites. Downing explains that this is because people would search for G’s Fresh in Google and call their local site. The challenge was to capture all of that information in a centralised place.
Additionally, the screening questions at different points of the recruitment funnel needed to be adapted as they went along:
- Are you physically well enough to work long days?
- Picking fruit and vegetables can be a 24-hour operation, are you able to do night shifts and weekend work?
- Are people able to get themselves to a rural field at 6 am?
- The pay level might not be what people are used to, are they still happy to do the work?
Downing highlights that it was essential to ask the candidate “are you still interested?” throughout the recruitment process. This allowed them to thank about whether this role was for them.
In all, Downing and the G’s Fresh team managed to mobilise the campaign within five days. And whilst some of her lockdown recruitment team may never want to see a recruitment process again, Downing emphasises that they all adapted well in the face of so much change in such a short amount of time.
To find out more about G’s Fresh and their high-volume recruitment campaign, watch the latest episode of the East Anglia Business Webinar now: