Overview

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skills it needed to deliver top-notch service to hiring managers, and the talent acquisition processes and systems were outdated and inefficient.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.

Approach

Navigating Hiring in the Pandemic

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.

Establishing a Different Relationship

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.

Commitment to Achieving Tangible Results

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

 

Findings

During the research phase of the project, Axiom extracted, aggregated, and analyzed data from several of Bright Horizons’ core systems:

  • Human resources information system or HRIS (containing employee population data)
  • Applicant tracking system or ATS (containing applicant and TA process data), and
  • Time and attendance system (containing data about employee staffing levels)

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:

  • Referrals, rehires, and internal transfers make the highest quality hires. Candidates from those three groups were much more likely to be qualified as a percentage of total applicants, and they were also retained at higher rates than other hires.
  • “Silvermedalists” represent a significant opportunity to improve hire volumes. Candidates who 1.) were interviewed for one requisition, 2) were not hired for it, and 3) subsequently applied for a different requisition – “silver medalists” – were five times more likely to be hired on the subsequent requisition than other applicants.
  • Nearly 70% of current teachers have two or more centers within ten miles of their home. This fact underscores the opportunity to increase yield from the applicant pool by considering candidates for more than just the one opening to which they applied.
  • The timing of interviews and number of applicants matter. Candidates interviewed within one to two days of applying are 20% more likely to be hired than those interviewed six or more days after applying. Over the course of a year, interviewing an extra 3,000 candidates within one to five days of applying could lead to ~240 more hires.
  • A combination of poor qualifications and process dropouts meant less than half of all Teacher candidates were available to interview. This limited the pool of applicants from which to choose a qualified candidate, resulting in longer average time to fill requisitions and additional stress on the remaining teachers and staff in the centers.

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.

 

Designing the New Talent Acquisition Function

Axiom developed the framework below to articulate how it would approach the task of redesigning the talent acquisition function:

 

Results

Axiom delivered on the results it set out to achieve. The team:

  • Delivered a compelling fact base that identified the root causes behind their hiring challenges
  • Delivered an integrated design for the TA function
  • Created a data-driven sourcing strategy to help Bright Horizons find the right talent
  • Aligned with leadership on an implementation roadmap and change management plan to ensure the new design sticks
  • Completed the project on-time and positioned Bright Horizons to begin implementation immediately

Results

Impact

As a result of partnering with Axiom, Bright Horizons has already seen meaningful improvements across a variety of categories:

  • Better candidate experience during the hiring and onboarding processes
  • A faster process with fewer extraneous steps
  • More satisfied hiring managers
  • Increased recruiter and sourcer productivity
  • Reduced administrative load on center directors
  • Higher quality hires
  • Better projection of the Bright Horizons employment brand in the market

Conclusion

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.

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