Bright Horizons offers a wide range of dependent care and education solutions to working families across North America and Europe. Its largest business is center-based childcare, but it also provides at-home care for children and other dependents, as well as education consulting services including College Coach and EdAssist. Many of its centers and services are sponsored by employers as a benefit to help employees balance their work and family lives.
In the years leading up to 2020, Bright Horizons struggled to find a solution to a 20+ year problem around effectively hiring, deploying, and retaining field talent. Its talent acquisition function did not have the skills it needed to deliver top-notch service to hiring managers, and the talent acquisition processes and systems were outdated and inefficient. The combination of those talent, process, and system gaps prevented Bright Horizons from efficiently hiring the volume of teachers and staff necessary to meet its growth goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a major disruptor to Bright Horizons’ employees and families. At the beginning of the pandemic, Bright Horizons closed many of its childcare centers and paused hiring due to the temporary drop-off in demand. While this created challenges for their business, it also created an opportunity to address the inefficiencies with Talent Acquisition while applicant and hiring volumes were lower than normal. Putting hiring on hold allowed Bright Horizons to devote the time, energy, and resources needed to truly transform talent acquisition, and they found the support and expertise they needed to do that with Axiom Consulting Partners.
From the start, Bright Horizons recognized that Axiom Consulting Partners was different from other companies they had consulted on talent acquisition issues. One of the primary reasons Bright Horizons chose to partner with Axiom was the firm’s commitment to meeting clients where they are and support the design through implementation.
The project team and Axiom integrated quickly, built a shared vision, and established trust which enabled Axiom to execute on all requests in an efficient manner. From the start, Bright Horizons noticed and appreciated that Axiom was not giving them an off-the-shelf solution. Instead, Axiom was developing a bespoke solution to meet Bright Horizons’ precise needs that would also align with Bright Horizons’ mission, values, and culture.
Throughout the engagement, Axiom worked closely with Bright Horizons to identify, define, and outline strategic and attainable goals and find constructive solutions to its hiring difficulties.
“In the field, we do high- volume hiring for our childcare centers. There are a lot of factors that go into every hire we make… there are certification and licensing requirements that candidates need to have. So finding the right talent was a real struggle for us, and even once the talent was identified, our process was very cumbersome. While our recruiters did an amazing job making thousands of hires per year, it was painful. You just knew there was a better way to do this.”
Maribeth Bearfield CHRO, Bright Horizons
During the research phase of the project, Axiom extracted, aggregated, and analyzed data from several of Bright Horizons’ core systems:
Axiom supplemented that quantitative analysis with 30+ interviews of leaders and managers throughout the company, plus seven focus groups with recently hired teachers, long-tenured teachers, and center directors. Some interesting findings from Axiom’s research included:
These and other findings led Axiom to realize that a combination of better need identification, prioritization, and sourcing capabilities were necessary for Bright Horizons to minimize the time and energy spent on requisitions that don’t end in hires.
Axiom developed the framework below to articulate how it would approach the task of redesigning the talent acquisition function:
Axiom delivered on the results it set out to achieve. The team:
As a result of partnering with Axiom, Bright Horizons has already seen meaningful improvements across a variety of categories:
Because of its work with Axiom, Bright Horizons is well on its way to establishing a more effective talent acquisition function. The streamlined processes, more integrated systems, and better designed organization have positioned Bright Horizons to hire and retain higher quality talent, which will in turn keep costs down and clients satisfied, thereby enabling profitable growth.