The team at Michael Hill have been using Xref to streamline their reference checks since 2015. In this blog, written a couple of years after Michael Hill started working with Xref, we hear from the jewellery retailer's recruitment manager about the impact online reference checking has had on the company's hiring.
How Does Michael Hill Benefit from Online Reference Checking?
Michael Hill is an international jewellery retailer and we have 320 stores across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, employing more than 2,000 permanent employees. In the past, our HR team checked references manually over the phone but, back in 2015, after observing the inefficiency of the process, we began to review other options to improve this resource-intensive process.
As a way to streamline the process across the company, we use Xref to check references for all candidates, including retail, head office and all manufacturing staff within Australia and New Zealand. Xref has provided us with an unparalleled service – we're proud to have an innovative, secure and consistent reference checking process.
The Xref system has transformed our recruiting. Our HR team can now base hiring decisions on reliable information, which can be benchmarked across all candidates to give us greater insight into the skills and attributes of our employees.
The most significant catalyst that caused us to review our process was the slow and clunky nature of traditional reference checking. Our people were spending considerable time on the process, and yet we would still invariably have a long list of outstanding and incomplete references at the end of every month. Responsibility for our reference checking sat with one person, taking up to 80 per cent of their time – calling people all day, every day. It was a tedious element of the HR role, and an ineffective use of skills and time.
We now have a much tighter and more streamlined recruitment process. When we introduced Xref, the original reference checking role was repurposed and reutilised, so that the team member was able to help the broader HR team, and take on a more fulfilling role.
Since automating the process, we find that we now receive a reference report back within 24 hours. We can leave the office on a Friday and, by Monday, more than half of the checks will have been completed.
Even though fraudulent references were not necessarily an issue for Michael Hill in the past, over the years we have found that the increased level of security that Xref provides has raised a number of cases of fraudulent activity, which may not have been detected through the traditional reference checking process.
The Xref system will immediately notify us if the IP address of the candidate is the same IP address as the referee, for example, and that was something that other providers couldn’t offer when we were researching the best software options. This security system gives us greater confidence that the reference check is being completed by the appropriate person, subsequently giving us greater confidence in our hires.
Another motivation for partnering with Xref was knowing that the recruitment process would be consistent, every single time, irrespective of role or department. The flexibility of the Xref process allows us to tailor the process to our recruitment needs, whether it is a large recruitment drive or a single position.
When we’re looking at the report, we can be confident that everyone has been asked exactly the same questions, enabling us to benchmark and aggregate data over time about the employees entering our business, based on categories such as their previous experience and skill set.
Innovation and Flexibility
The flexibility of Xref’s automated reference checking system allows referees to complete reference checks outside of business hours, which is a significant benefit for Michael Hill. We now also use Xref as an integration through PageUp and the ease with which we can send a request adds a huge amount of efficiency to the process. Our team finds that the flexibility of Xref’s service is well-suited to the span of working hours in the retail and manufacturing industry, and the system of compliance that we’re searching for.
It isn’t always a 9-5 day in retail and manufacturing, and it’s not unusual for referees to be working on a Saturday or a Sunday, or event late at night. The beauty of Xref is that it allows people to complete the reference checks outside of business hours, at a time that’s convenient for them.
I know that some people use reference checking to provide insight, and some people use it as a tool for compliance. We weren’t concerned by the automated process at all because we tend to use it as a compliance tool, but also gain insight as a result.
We’ve always been really happy with Xref and maintain a healthy credit balance at all times. The fact that you can complete up to three references per candidate for the cost of one credit is really competitive.
There’s great value in any system that provides quick and insightful data about our candidates, while increasing the productivity of our own HR team. We’ve always been very impressed with the service and continue to be today.