As an international jewellery retailer, Michael Hill has 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 after observing the inefficiency of the process, Michael Hill began to review other options to outsource this resource-intensive process.
As a way to streamline the process across the company, we now 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 now 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 checking references, 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.
Since working with Xref, we now have a much tighter and streamlined recruitment process. The original reference checking role has now been repurposed and reutilised, so that this team member is 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 have not been an issue for Michael Hill in the past, 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, and that was something that other providers couldn’t offer. 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 of department. We have a couple of different recruitment processes, depending on the department and the role. 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. The team find 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 the retail and manufacturing industry, 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 been really happy with Xref, and have recently purchased another thousand credits. 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 been very impressed with the service so far, and we’re looking at ways we can use it outside Australia and New Zealand.