Soccer team in a huddle

How A. O. Smith Recruits the Best and Brightest

June 23, 2016 by Susan Galer

Job candidates in the digitized world bring the same global, mobile and social mindset to their search that’s present in every other part of their lives.

For example, studies have found 42 percent of applicants who have a bad experience say they will never seek employment from that company again, 22 percent said they will actively tell colleagues, friends and family members they don’t want to work at that organization, and nine percent won’t buy products or services from that company.

For these reasons and more, A. O. Smith Corporation, a leading U.S.-based water heater and boiler manufacturer, has turned to SAP SuccessFactors cloud-based software. With accelerated expansion fueled by organic growth as well as acquisitions, A. O. Smith needed to consolidate and standardize recruiting processes in sync with global business transformation objectives for their 13,400 employees in the United States, China, and other countries. The company recently shared its journey to the HR cloud during a session at the SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG Conference, spotlighting lessons learned during their current implementation of SuccessFactors Recruiting, which is targeted to go live later this summer.

“We had some redundant, disparate and manual systems. Following the mantra of SAP, we wanted to run simple,” said Thayre A. Faust, Director of IT at A. O. Smith. “Putting everything together on a single platform within SAP SuccessFactors will support our goal to be simple. We want to improve the experience of our candidates, hiring managers, HR and recruiters.”

Simplified Experience from Sourcing Through Application

Besides implementing SAP SuccessFactors in five languages in addition to English, the company is mobilizing recruitment for faster sourcing and focusing on ongoing communication with candidates, whether they are hired or not.

“We want to engage with candidates if they don’t find a position with us right away. Someone could be a future candidate or even a potential customer,” said Director of Global Talent Management, Mary Sue Handel. “They can join our talent community within the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting module and start following us. Having an easy experience means they’ll have a positive overall relationship with A. O. Smith over time, which is just as important to our brand recognition and market growth.”

Better Candidate Experiences

Noting that research of online job applicants shows each additional click-through page increases the drop-off rate by 50 percent among qualified people, Handel said the company realized it had to change both its online and mobile experience. “We want to make it as easy as possible for qualified candidates to search and apply for jobs from any device, especially mobile.”

Now candidates can find the job information they need from one page that features both valuable corporate and job-specific information. Instead of over a dozen clicks to apply for a position, it only takes a few clicks for candidates to keyword search for job listings by location and function, then apply. Once someone applies for a position, their information is reusable for future opportunities.

“It’s very fast and easy for the candidate to navigate job listings and use the global mapping feature to see where our openings are worldwide,” said Handel. “In one place, they can gain an understanding of A. O. Smith’s company values and join our talent community. We use a multi-stage application process to make it quick for candidates to arrive at the point of applying, requesting more information as they progress.”

A. O. Smith is also using career site builder (CSB), a recent innovation within SAP SuccessFactors, allowing the company to manage capabilities themselves as requirements evolve. “This was really important to us, especially in China,” said Faust. “If we can’t deliver this solution mobile, candidates won’t use it.”

Jim Newman, CEO of HRIZONS, sees CSB as an extension of the corporate website. “We fully integrated Marketing and Branding into this project because it’s an extension of the brand experience for candidates and potential customers, reflecting how employees are treated.”

Select the Right Partner

Faust credited partners KPIT and HRIZONS, along with the company’s global team approach. “We’re all about one system, one process for one A. O. Smith. Being a global implementation, we started assembling a team with participants from every region who would be part of this solution together so there would be buy-in and adoption as we rolled this out,” she said. “We needed partners who were more flexible and willing to help us gain the knowledge so we could take ownership going forward.”

Margaret Black, KPIT North American Director, SuccessFactors, sees ‘flexibility’ as the key to success. “Needs fluctuate on a seemingly daily basis. While a great team and process are imperative, flexibility and global experience are what allow them to be successful.”

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