An extremely experienced tech visionary, Hugh's background in both corporate and start-up environments, combined with an in depth understanding of the Recruitment and HR world, places him as one of the industry's most insightful leaders.
Having re-engineered recruitment for Schlumberger, Hugh understands the business drivers for organisations and this is reflected in a long track-record of delivering constant, and relevant, leading-edge HR Technology.
This knowledge has been baked into the heart of the Hollaroo platform - his current business innovation.
Hi, I’m Hugh Fordham, the CEO and Founder of Hollaroo. Hollaroo is a talent relationship platform that enables organisations to connect with people as they come into contact with you – whether that be your passive candidates, onboarders, employees looking to grow or staying in touch with your alumni.
Hollaroo was created in response to the broken, inefficient, reactive model of recruitment which forces candidates through an impersonal, opaque process and makes recruiters start all over again every time they need to hire. All this at a time when social and communication technology was meeting a desire from people to have more human and interactive relationships with organisations.
We have shown that supporting a proactive model of recruitment delivers real business benefits, such as better quality of hire and reduced cost of hire, at the same time as making candidates happy – which helps you stand out in a very competitive market.
Over the years we have also demonstrated how the same approach works with other groups of people that you are connected with, whether it be onboarders, employees, alumni and even your suppliers. Facilitating human connection is a powerful tool that works right the way across your business.
Introduce our tech, history and customers we service. How do we solve the market problem?
Built by a team with decades of experience in enterprise software, the Hollaroo platform combines the security and flexibility required by organisations with the user experience expected by today’s consumers and candidates. A simple way to think of it is your very own social network, like LinkedIn, but where you own the data and the experience and can finely tailor it for each audience.
We started by helping recruitment teams, specifically by enabling an easier approach to employee referrals. Our first two clients, BDO and Eversheds, both saw huge uplifts in the number and quality of their referral hires, delivering a very rapid return on investment.
We were also honoured to work with the London Olympics, helping them manage the outplacement of their team following the Games. This was a real showcase for the flexibility of the platform and also how a focus on employee experience can deliver real benefits in retention.
Our first global and multi lingual clients was Capgemini. We initially helped with their alumni programme and then started supporting new employees through the pre and onboarding process. The latter has been spectacularly successful, with a 50% reduction in post-offer attrition following the deployment of the platform.
Most recently we were delighted to help Dentons build an award-winning virtual work experience programme. Driven by the needs of the pandemic this has massively increased the reach and diversity of their audience. Another example of how flexible the platform is and how useful it can be wherever you have a need to connect and communicate with
What is our USP, what can our tech do that others can’t.
When designing Hollaroo we wanted to turn things around and start with the end-user, the candidate. The approach we use is what we call the three R’s – Respect for the user, building relationships with them in a human way and being able to respond to them as their needs change over time.
On the Respect side our big thing is we want the user to always be in control of the experience and be very open about what is happening to their data. The other thing we really wanted was to be able to tailor the experience to each type of user – it really felt that most systems seemed to be built for one person, and then trying to cram other types of user into the same version.
With relationships we lean very heavily on nudge theory, which is all about persuading people to do things rather than telling them what to do. Also, there is the psychology around gamification – which is all about giving people feedback and letting them know how they are getting on.
And then finally we wanted to make the experience very adaptive. When we engage with someone, say an onboarder or somebody in the passive talent community, we can change the experience based on how they respond. Leaning in to someone that looks like they could be interested in talking, or dialling it back if someone just wants to stay in touch. Which brings us back to respect – treating everyone well no matter what their situation is.
What is the before and after effect (the Impact). Reference any examples of customers
Treating people well is a worthy goal in its own right – but we are very conscious that we need to deliver real business benefits as well. I’ll use three examples on how this comes together.
With Network Rail we provided a space for their passive talent before they are ready to apply. Firstly, and most importantly, the candidate owns the experience. They decide when to engage, can change the relationship at any point, they feel in control. Secondly it is built for them, it is intuitive, very clear what it is about and what people can do.
The whole experience is aimed at make people feel special and the result was 93% positive feelings about a career with Network Rail. Respect has rewards.
Having an engaged audience, and giving them time and space, not only generates more interest but also the quality of your applications. I’ve already mentioned BDO and the way they generated five times as many referrals after deploying Hollaroo. What was even better for the business was that they hired one in four candidates from the platform – making hiring faster and easier. Engagement works on the other side too, eight years after deploying the platform they were still getting the same level of introductions from employees. They even hired someone seven years after first being introduced – the value of long-term relationships.
But perhaps it is the responsiveness of the platform which is most exciting. I’ve mentioned Capgemini using the platform to support their post-offer onboarding process. Their initial focus was on giving their successful candidates a really wonderful experience and also automating learning and knowledge sharing to speed up induction.
All this time they were gathering data, looking at patterns of behaviour and seeing how this could give early warning if someone was at risk of dropping out. Using this we can automatically flag at-risk candidates for intervention.
As a result of all of this their post-offer attrition levels have more than halved. Basically more than 100 people turning up for work that wouldn’t otherwise – that’s a hell of a business case!
Any quirks or limitations of our tech?
When considering deploying Hollaroo you do need to bear in mind what we are not. Having spent many years working on ATSs it was very clear to me that ATS-style functionality could not be part of the platform. The reason is that the drivers behind ATS design, management of process, regulatory requirements, are contradictory to what you need when building long-term open-ended relationships. For the same reason I would never consider using an ATS to build relationships, ATSs are very well-designed tools for a particular purpose and a lot of the frustrations they create are when people try to use them for a fundamentally different thing.
Similarly, consider the impact on your business and teams through deploying something that could fundamentally change the relationship between you and your candidates or employees. Are you comfortable giving them more control over the experience and do you trust them to engage properly? Are you ready to have conversations with people rather than one-way communications? Can you start to think proactively about supporting your business rather than reacting to short-term needs? Hollaroo can help you do all these things in a very efficient and resource-light way, but people need to be on board.
Where does your tech sit in the tech stack?
Rather than replacing existing technology, Hollaroo is most often deployed to provide a more engaging, social layer for your audiences. Integrations tend to be about surfacing content in the platform. Depending on the solution deployed this could be jobs from your ATS, news from your publishing system or learning materials from your LMS. Whenever someone is ready to enter a process, applying for a job or starting some training, we hand them off into the relevant system.
We’ve kept referrals separate from the solutions because we strongly believe anyone with a connection to your business is well placed to identify potential and introduce them to you. And those introductions could be potential talent but also sources of knowledge or business. I’ve mentioned that we run business communities for some clients and there are plenty of occasions where a good introduction is the perfect start.
Finally, we gather large amounts of data which can be used to identify patterns of behaviour and prompt a change in user experience or flags for attention. These can either be incorporated into our internal tools and reports or exported into your preferred BI tools.
Pricing, onboarding, timeline of adoption.
Although all of our solutions run on the same platform we build our pricing around the value that our clients are getting. Simply put, the licence fees will be based on the size of an organisation (how many employees) and the number of solutions deployed. From then on it is a flat fee as we want to encourage as much use of the platform as possible.
From a deployment perspective, we have deliberately built the platform to be as simple to
deliver as possible. It typically takes 6-8 weeks to go live but we can go quicker. For example, we deployed for the Olympics in three weeks – nothing like the date of an opening ceremony to drive things forward!
If you are thinking of the people that need to be involved, the business owner will typically be in HR or Talent Acquisition. You will probably then need support from your technology and legal teams (for security and data protection) and your marketing or comms team to help with the branding and content. We have a number of guides you can use to help introduce the platform to other people in your organisation.
Finally, I wanted to leave you with some tips on choosing and deploying any sort of technology in your organisation. Although I’m an engineer at heart I’ll be the first to say that the technology itself is only part of the solution. Often how you deploy a system is as important as what that system is in the first place. Bear this in mind when choosing a provider and get a sense of how much they want to be a genuine partner rather than just giving you a system and leaving you to get on with it.