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Wanted: one entirely new workforce

When a major financial services company decided to overhaul its entire workforce of debt collection agents, this created one of the most challenging background screening tasks Verifile has ever contended with. Not only was it a mammoth undertaking, it also had to be completed in double-quick time.

Previously, the company’s workforce consisted of thousands of mainly part-time agents. Each managed their own portfolio of micro-loans and was responsible for collecting payments on their existing loans and securing new business.

At the time, legislative concerns around the use of such agents were mounting as they were, to all intents and purposes, self-employed intermediaries. There was also growing scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) about the sales-related commission these agents received and the more vulnerable members of society they might potentially look to sell their loan products to.

Spotting a way to diffuse these concerns and to exert more control over their agents’ performance, customer experience and sales targeting, the company decided to move to an entirely new operating model.

All change

The decision was taken to replace the workforce of nearly 5,000 part-time agents with 3,000 full-time, in-house customer experience managers. Of those 3,000 openings, it was estimated that two-thirds would be filled by existing agents, happy to transition to an in-house role. That still left 1,000 roles to be filled from the thousands of candidates that the company’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider expected to have to process.

With the restructure extending through all parts of the business, hundreds of area and regional managers would also be displaced and expected to apply for new roles within the structure.

The scale of the background screening this would require was therefore already significant. Extremely tight deadlines made it even more challenging.

With existing employees having to be consulted about the restructure before any announcements could be made about job roles or recruitment, it was mid-March before recruitment could begin in earnest.

This was a firm that typically expected to generate most of its profits in the final three months of the year. However, it also knew that it would take three months to get the new experience managers fully up to speed on the requirements of their new role.

With these calculations in mind, a deadline of July 3rd now loomed large on the horizon, leaving just 15 weeks to identify, screen and recruit an entirely new workforce.

That’s a lot of people

Working on the assumption that each new hire in such a role requires a 10:1 candidate ratio, the RPO provider set about sifting 10,000 prospective candidates. To save on what would otherwise be a significant wasted effort (and expense), this number clearly needed whittling down significantly before background screening could commence.

Eventually, the screening requirements for the new hires and those existing staff transitioning across meant that around 6,000 people required screening. Multiple checks were in play per person as well, resulting in over 18,000 individual criminal, credit and driving licence checks being undertaken.

By the time the task had been made at least somewhat more manageable by the initial sifting, precious little time remained for these checks to be processed. With extra personnel recruited and new internal processes introduced to help cope with the high volumes, the project was nevertheless completed in just a matter of weeks. This allowed the client to make 3,400 job offers – and all in sufficient time for the new hires to be trained up before their busy season commenced.

As an exercise in managing large screening volumes under challenging deadlines, these outcomes wouldn’t have been possible without a strong working relationship with both the employer and its RPO provider. If you can excuse the pun, this was no time to be working alone.