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Xref Ensures YMCA NSW’s Youth Are in the Right Hands

Hear how YMCA NSW took referencing online and experienced faster hiring with less risk as a result.

YMCA header image, young people
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"My team love me for introducing Xref!"


It takes, on average, just 30 hours to turnaround references.


The average number of words generated per reference is 307.


45% of references are completed outside traditional business hours.

As a part of the oldest and largest youth organisation in the world, YMCA NSW is passionate about nurturing potential and providing safe places where young people can grow, learn, move, and thrive.

But to continue to fulfil that ambition and maintain their stellar reputation, YMCA NSW needed to ensure they were hiring the right people to look after their youth.

That’s why Recruitment Manager, Agnes Isaias, turned to Xref. Read YMCA NSW’s case study below.

YMCA NSW believe in the power of inspired young people. The organisation serves more than 40 communities in NSW and the ACT and employs over 2,000 people.

Each year, more than 3 million people visit their fitness centres and over 7,000 children attend their outside school hours care services.

“We recruit staff across every role at YMCA from the cleaners to the gym instructors, the educators, right up to executive level,” Isaias said.

Each role requires different qualifications depending on the position, but everybody must have up-to-date certificates in First Aid CPR and most importantly, Working with Children Checks.

“We need to be as diligent as possible in our vetting and screening of potential employees because these employees work with children, young people and vulnerable adults. It’s critical that we get it right.

“We have a really strong commitment to safeguarding - it's in our organisational DNA.”

The importance of reference checks to YMCA NSW’s core values and functionality led the child-friendly organisation to Xref.

Areas of focus for YMCA NSW

  • Child protection: If YMCA NSW doesn’t safeguard the quality of the people they hire, they don’t just put their reputation at risk, but potentially the lives of those they serve. “The real catalyst for change was a child protection issue. I was called in to help investigate a potential red flag in a new hire.”
  • High staff turnover: “We run recreation centres and camps, as well as before and after-school care and vacation cares, so we tend to hire a lot of young people. One of our biggest challenges is employee turnover because a number of our employees are at a stage in their lives where they're trying different things.”
  • Efficiency:“Previously, we were conducting phone-based references and ended up playing a lot of 'phone tag' with referees. We had cases where it would take us 20 attempts to get hold of a referee.”
  • Speed:This manual system had a negative impact on the turnaround time of the reference checking and the overall hiring process.
  • Quality: “Often, the quality of reference checks was appalling, with just one and two-word answers recorded. People were ticking boxes rather than examining information.”
  • Fraud detection: Many “red flags” and doctored certifications were slipping through the cracks due to YMCA NSW’s previously ineffective system.

Benefits provided by Xref

Xref has been able to address all these areas of concerns and more, according to Isaias and her team.

  • Peace of mind: YMCA NSW can relax that the children and vulnerable people they are being trusted to care for are being served by the right people.
  • A pool of talent: Xref’s digital memory bank allows YMCA NSW to have a stored pool of talent for the roles that tend to be more transient.
  • Streamlined process: “We now have a system that offers us the insights we’re looking for and the efficiency we need to minimise any delays in the recruitment process.”
  • Improved quality: The average number of words generated per reference is now 307. “Our reference check quality improved since we’ve been with Xref. We started to get more structured and deeper information about people.”
  • Quicker turnaround: “Our average turnaround time used to be a week and we have now got that down to 30 hours.”
  • More time for more meaningful practices: “The majority of our reference checks are done out of hours, and I think that's one of the main benefits.”
  • Tightened security: “We’ve actually been able to catch 17 cases of reference check fraud which for us is really important.”
“My team love me for introducing Xref! The amount of time it has saved them in terms of chasing up referees, and just the speed at which we can complete someone's pre-employment check, is fantastic. It's freed them up to add a lot more value at the front end of the recruitment process. They can now spend more time with hiring managers and be more consultative.

“We have a very good relationship with Xref, it's almost like having another member of the team. Xref is a really good partner in our recruitment process and helps us get better hiring results.

“It has provided us with another string to our bow to helpus do it better.”

Contact Xref today to enjoy the same benefits of YMCA NSW.

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