Wayne and Chloe Wright are known for not doing things halfway, and in 1996 they opened their first childhood centre in Tauranga, New Zealand with only four employees. Today, their BestStart has grown into New Zealand’s largest provider of early childhood education.
Over the past 13 years, BestStart has grown to more than 270 centres, employing 4,500 staff according to HR Manager Amy Wilkins.
At this current stage, Amy has noted that they are facing the most difficult staffing shortage that she has seen in her 10 years since working in the organisation, despite “20 new centres that we are looking to open up over the next 18 months,” she said.
“There is a nationwide shortage of teachers across the board in every sector in New Zealand – recruitment is a top priority for us at the moment so that we can continue to support our growth.” A challenge for BestStart’s recruitment is their time to fill, which “keeps going up and up,” said Amy, due to the current market.
With 1,500 casual employees, Amy emphasises the “constant turnover, constant churn, constant recruitment,” that comes with hiring contingent workers in the industry.
Growing in size
Prior to implementing JobAdder, BestStart was using a New Zealand build system called JobHire, their first-ever ATS. “It was a very basic system, and as our needs were getting more complex and we continued to grow in size, we found that JobAdder was a much better product,” Amy said.
Their previous system “had no development over the three years that we were using it,” she added.
Wilkins says that BestStart is primarily focused on continuing “to be in growth mode over three years,” and looking for “greater functionality.”
Considering their last system “didn’t integrate with everything, so it stood alone,” Amy liked how JobAdder has an open API and “is so easily integratable,” she noted.
Despite having four regional recruitment specialists who oversee JobAdder in each region, “we still fundamentally believe that our Hiring Managers need to be a key part of that recruitment process.”
With their current volume, JobAdder has worked for them by involving their Hiring Managers. “We like that JobAdder is very responsive in the fact that we kind of pick and choose how much our Hiring Managers are involved in.”
Keeping up with trends and solutions, Amy found JobAdder to be “in continuous development mode where we don’t have to be thinking – JobAdder is always listening to their clients and making changes. Often these are things that we hadn’t thought of, but when it comes through we think ‘that’s brilliant,’ or it helps our processes.”
“I also needed to know that I could get really robust reporting out of the system,” Amy added. As a JobAdder superuser, Amy found that having the ability to gather information on questions senior management may ask such as, ‘where are people going?’ or ‘where are we losing people?’, was “a big driver for me,” she said. “I’ve now got that information through JobAdder, which is really powerful,” she added.
From beginners to champions
With seamless integration, BestStart found it “very easy to change over,” and quickly discovered their own JobAdder champions within the team. Throughout the first week of integration, Amy and her team had already explored and “pottered around in the system.”
Online training from JobAdder and group meetings allowed Amy and her team to “make sure we shared all the information that we were learning along the way.”
“I definitely use Hiring Manager, as I don’t have time to be managing candidates for my colleagues. So we see it’s got plenty of potential and when it’s used well, it’s really powerful,” she added.
With the new JobAdder dashboard, Amy has been able to quickly check how long vacancies have been left unfilled, as well as providing a “quick snapshot of how many applications we’ve had so that I can go into our submissions and see what’s happening with those,” she said.
By reducing their applications, BestStart has “been able to use the system to support that, which is a good thing,” Wilkins said. Screening questions have enabled the team to quickly remove applicants and efficiently collect “an overview of who’s applied,” Amy added.
With high volume roles receiving hundreds of applicants, JobAdder allows BestStart to reject applicants “really quickly, so it’s actually saving us time because we’ve got greater visibility of where we’re at with each process – it also gives us a bit of visibility to know where our high priority areas are.”
Meanwhile, their casuals team is now going completely paperless through JobAdder’s HelloSign integration. According to Amy, “we can now manage our entire onboarding process through JobAdder, which is really good.”
The future for candidates
Improved candidate experience and communication across teams has been the biggest benefit of using JobAdder, says Amy. “We are potentially able to give a much better candidate experience than we were previously. There’s so much more customisation with JobAdder – even when we tell an applicant that they were unsuccessful, we’re able to do that in a variety of ways, which makes it a more personal response,” she added.
Moving forward, BestStart has just begun their international recruitment and is “looking for teachers globally, as we’re so short.” explained Amy. By using JobAdder, “we’ve got it all in one space and anybody can jump in at any time and pick up where a candidate is at. Whereas previously we were on one computer and it wasn’t centralised.”
“As an organisation, we are looking to streamline our processes. And so we’re trying to really extend JobAdder to as many areas as we can, to help that process which has been really good. We’re enjoying the flexibility of the system.”