SARA profile: Meet the agency driving diversity and innovation

At the 2021 SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARAs), HOBAN Recruitment took home awards in two categories: Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative, and Most Innovative Agency of the year.

We spoke with Alison Watts, HOBAN’s CEO, to discuss the wins and the strategies in place to make HOBAN award-winning agency.

Congratulations on winning the 2021 Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative. What does it mean for HOBAN Recruitment to win this award?

We’re delighted to be recognised through all the work that we've done and the systems that we've put into place to remove barriers to recruitment and to offer a really inclusive recruitment approach. So, the approach that we take every day means that our HOBAN team can be confident that we are considering the entire candidate pool by making ourselves available to all members of the community, including for example, people with disability and long-term unemployed people. Our pathways to employment program has given our team the knowledge, understanding, and most importantly, the confidence to remove barriers to employment and literally change people's lives.

HOBAN Recruitment specialises in government recruitment, what do you see as strengths of your agency, that makes you unique?

It's an interesting question. While HOBAN is well known for working with government organisations, that is only part of the work we do as a business. HOBAN provides recruitment and on-hire staffing services to state, federal, and local governments, and we also offer specialist recruitment services to a great many other industries and sectors.

Overall, what makes us as a brand unique is the solutions we put into place to solve hiring challenges for all types of sectors and industries, regardless of the hiring challenges they may have.

The approach that we take is very much bespoke. There's no one-size-fits-all. That applies whether it's temporary staffing or permanent recruitment. And because HOBAN has been around for over 50 years, we've got really extensive networks and contacts which are so important in a tight labour market at the moment. Being part of Outsourcing Inc, which is headquartered in Japan and has operations across the world, means we have access to global talent and networks.

Each year, the SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARA) are judged by an expert panel of Industry leaders. In 2021, we introduced the award for Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the judges were looking for organisations that treat diversity, equity and inclusion as integral to their organisation, and have an attraction and retention strategy that supports this.

Can you tell us more about HOBAN’s work in this space?

With our core business being recruitment, that's absolutely where we focused our energies in the initial instance. So, that meant not only diversity and inclusion being in our strategies, but also very much in our commitments and our operational delivery. So, we took a 360-degree approach in everything that we did. We reworked our application procedures to ensure that they were fully accessible and that we could communicate effectively with all candidates by their preferred means of communication. We made sure that our website was compliant with the web content accessibility guidelines. We nominated diversity and inclusion champions within our business who can be the lead and help others. And we also defined some working teams within our business to ensure that all of our team members got on board. We integrated disability confident recruiter training with an induction program for all of our new starters. And we established a development centre to provide hands-on training to build employee confidence for new candidates who needed it. Now, overall, as that applies to the industry, our industry is the first point of call for so many job seekers. So, it's critical that our consultants are trained in diversity and inclusion. We really felt that these strategies that we deployed ensured that we did that and also, that we're able to offer practical strategies to support all job seekers. We feel that the actions that we've taken help lead the way for the industry to demonstrate that.

What challenges did HOBAN Recruitment face in the last year, and how did you overcome them?

We have faced the same challenges of workforce shortages as the majority of hiring managers and recruiters, however the way we have been able to overcome these difficulties has set us apart.

HOBAN has implemented many innovations to counter these challenges. Initiatives such as opening HOBAN’s Distribution Development Centre (DDC), where we have been able to develop a stream of workers in the logistics and warehousing industry, which has been hit so hard by the workforce shortage.

It is essential that we continue to create contemporary staffing solutions for our clients, rather than just rely on traditional recruitment channels.

You won a second award, congratulations! What does it mean for HOBAN to win Most Innovative Agency of the Year?

We’ve very much got a culture of innovation and challenging the norm, and we really pride ourselves on developing innovative bespoke solutions that help our clients find and secure the best talent. This award recognises that no challenge is too great and no role is too hard to find. So, it's a really good testament to the strategies that we deploy.

For Most Innovative Agency, our judges were looking for agencies that harness data and analytics to provide insight, solve clients’ challenges and fuel innovation. Can you share more about your initiatives that help support the recruitment industry?

HOBAN is proud to have supported the overall recruitment industry through our achievements this year. This includes sourcing talent for roles with a traditionally high turnover and low application rates, effectively filling talent gaps caused by complications surrounding the pandemic, and training and communicating with new talent to ensure minimal turnover and a superior candidate experience.

In this way, we’ve been able to demonstrate the importance of supporting talent from the initial stages all the way to their performance within their new role.

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