Why The Warehouse Group’s Employment Brand Manager wants recruiters to take risks

Leslie Taylor’s middle name must be innovation.  One first after another tumbles out as she talks about her 10 years at The Warehouse Group starting at the Warehouse Stationery brand, and now as the Employment Brand Manager for the group.

Taylor started her recruitment/HR career in agency where she revelled in gaining an understanding of clients’ businesses and what she could do for candidates to match them with their ideal role or company.

She soon discovered that problems and challenges were her thing.  Ten years ago, she was working as an agency recruiter, placing candidates into Warehouse Stationery. “I noticed that within three months of starting many of them were leaving,” says Taylor.  

“During the exit interviews I asked the candidates why? There were several issues within the business at that time including poor sales, dissatisfied customers which lead to low engagement and high turnover. I realised there was an opportunity for me to make a difference at Warehouse Stationery.”

The challenge was such that Taylor, a calculated risk taker by nature, picked up the telephone and called the then general manager of HR Anna Campbell with a proposal. “I felt like I could make a difference and I suggested she wanted to employ me as the first internal recruiter.”

Taylor’s timing was perfect. Campbell had been considering setting up an internal recruitment function, which was a relatively new concept in New Zealand at the time and Campbell had her woman. Within a year Taylor had reduced the recruitment spend for Warehouse Stationery by $600,000.

She went on to implement the first internal recruitment function, its first ATS, and one of the first careers websites in the country. “There was this trajectory of all these amazing initiatives. I was able to turn my ideas into reality, add value and make a difference” she says.

Another Taylor innovation was a new direction in recruitment advertising making it more playful and fun as well as candidate focused. It was all the more innovative because New Zealand was definitely not in a candidate-driven market at the time, she says.

So dramatic was the turnaround in recruitment and retention that just three years later in 2010, Warehouse Stationery won the JRA Best Workplace Award in the large business category.

Taylor moved to her current role in 2013 and became one of only three Employment Brand Managers in New Zealand at the time.

A big part of her role has been to take a leading stance in positioning retail as a career in New Zealand. According to Taylor, too often the public sees only the team in stores and believes those are the only roles available in retail, whereas there are also career opportunities in the buying, product design, e-commerce, tech and logistics. 

The 2010 recognition was the first of a host of awards including Retailworld Retail Employer of the Year and IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces Awards across a variety of The Warehouse Groups brands, over a number of years.

One of the international awards relates directly to the Warehouse Stationery’s careers videos, launched under Taylor’s leadership. That was a Silver Reel award in the External Communications category at the 2013 Media Communications Association- International Media Festival in Las Vegas.

Most recently Taylor’s work has been recognised as a finalist in both the 2016 NZ Social Media Awards and 2017 APAC LinkedIn 'Bring your employer brand to life' award.

Now the boot is on the other foot with Taylor judging entries in the SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARA).  Above all, Taylor will be looking for innovative practices and businesses that are taking risks, doing something different, being agile and adapting to their clients.

Taylor adds that she’s looking for innovation from a technology perspective. “I am also looking to see the human element.  The ability to build a rapport with the clients to better understand them, their businesses and culture. The ability to understand what is important to a candidate, what they value and to treat them well through the candidate journey”

Taylor believe the recruiter role is changing and would like see greater utilisation of data science to add value to their business and the service they offer clients. “Artificial intelligence is changing the future of work and the future of recruitment. But, I believe those who have both emotional and social intelligence will thrive. The ability to network, form deep, trusting relationships and collaborate with people around the world will be highly sought after.”

The awards ceremony itself is a highlight on the recruitment agency calendar, says Taylor.  “Recruiters have great personalities. They are a highly social bunch online and in person, we love to catch up and talk about what’s happening in the recruitment world.  The SARAs are an opportunity to see each other and celebrate success in the industry.”

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Diana Clement

Freelance journalist Diana Clement specialises in writing careers, business, personal finance, investment and related topics such as savvy spending. Over the past decade Diana has written for the New Zealand Herald, as well as personal finance and...

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