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Improve hiring agility with a decentralized recruitment model

December 16, 2021
iCIMS Staff
6 min read
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Kingfisher is an international home improvement company that owns popular brands B&Q, Screwfix, Castorama, and BricotDepo. During quarantine, Kingfisher found itself in a unique position as millions of Europeans began to invest in home improvement projects at an accelerated rate. This DIY boom led to increased sales and a need for more workers to support their business processes. 

B&Q and Screwfix moved toward a decentralized recruitment model to provide the agility and responsiveness needed to adapt to an unpredictable market. In a conversation at the INSPIRE 2021 European Summit, Russell Parsons, Head of Attraction and Resourcing at B&Q, and Martin Fahy, Talent Acquisition Manager at Screwfix, shared how moving toward a decentralized recruitment model helped them navigate challenges while rapidly expanding and keeping health and safety a top priority.  

To hear Russell and Martin’s full conversation during the INSPIRE 2021 European Summit, watch the session Fireside Chat with Kingfisher: Recruitment Results with a Hiring-Manager Centric Talent Strategy. 

What is a decentralized recruitment model?  

First, let’s look at centralized recruitment. In this model, a corporate team of recruiters (usually within HR) oversees all company hiring processes and policies. This creates a standardized experience for candidates, but recruiters may lack some of the specialized knowledge needed to attract candidates for specific roles.   

A decentralized recruitment model moves the authority from a central corporate hiring team to local hiring managers. Candidates receive a much more tailored experience, but processes and policies may vary across the company depending on the hiring manager.  

Some companies may even take a hybrid approach. Local hiring managers are responsible for hiring while receiving support from a team of corporate talent acquisition specialists.   

Moving to a hiring-manager centric talent strategy  

Since early spring of 2020, B&Q and Screwfix experienced accelerated growth in their businesses. The more people invested in DIY home improvements, the more employees were needed to support the increased sales. Additionally, the shift in consumer behavior to online purchases called for new roles and skills.  

Russell says, “It was the changes in the customers’ habits that drove the changes in our recruitment requirements.”  

B&Q had to ensure safety protocols were followed in their brick-and-mortar locations while simultaneously turning about 50 warehouse stores into logistics centers to accommodate for the increase in online purchases and home delivery.  

These challenges required employees with new skills, and a lot of them. Over the last two years, B&Q made more than 10,000 hires each year. It became crucial for B&Q to have an agile recruiting process to keep up with this volume.  

Screwfix had similar challenges in their business. Over the past five years, they’ve opened a store a week, even during the height of lockdown. This continued growth plan called for about 600 new roles in 2021 and is predicted to continue for the next couple of years. 

How B&Q and Screwfix redesigned their recruitment model to meet the challenges of high-volume hiring  

B&Q maintained a centralized recruitment model for more than five years. That model was not responsive or quick from a candidate experience and agility perspective despite being the model that many companies still use 

The decentralized model gave control back to the hiring managers, allowing them to make quick hiring decisions despite the severe talent shortage.  

Russell said, “Part of our iCIMS journey was to give that control back to our hiring managers locally. When you’re talking about 300+ stores, each store has 10 or more hiring managers, we needed to find a way through our technology to enable that team to be as fast and responsive as they could so that they could resource up their teams as quickly as they could. And part of that iCIMS journey was to enable that decentralization so that the team that I represent became more of a center of excellence, advice, coaching, best practice, building connections in the communities that we’re in. The recruitment admin is happening with the person who’s really accountable for it, which is the hiring manager. The person who’s keen to push things as quickly as possible has all of that in their control now.”  

The push towards a decentralized model was a big step for B&Q. In addition to hiring agility, it brought benefits for candidates as well.  

“I think the candidates get a better experience. They talk consistently to the same person, not someone in a head office at the end of a phone. They buy into their hiring manager, their future line manager, and the store or the part of the business they’re coming into.” 

Screwfix adopted a slightly more hybrid model than B&Q. Hiring managers are front and center with greater accessibility and accountability over decision making than they had before. They can easily see metrics like their vacancies, candidates that have gone seven days without contact, or how long a candidate has been in a certain stage. This helps hiring managers be more proactive in their communications with candidates.  

Martin said, “One of the reasons why we selected iCIMS and went down that route is that we always wanted [a decentralized model] as an option. If we’re going to create a system that is going to become part of the hiring manager’s tasks, it has to be user-friendly, slick, easy to use, able for retail managers to offer a great candidate experience because you have to understand that recruitment and talent hiring is an important part of their role but of course not the main part of their role.”  

Additionally, the centralized recruitment team has visibility into these metrics and can provide support to hiring managers. In effect, Screwfix now has a team of 800 recruiters companywide rather than a team of 10 in a central function.  

Through these decentralized recruitment models, B&Q and Screwfix have overcome many hiring challenges presented by the pandemic. Supported by the iCIMS Talent Cloud platform, their new processes improved the experience for both hiring managers and candidates.  

To hear Russell and Martin’s full testimonial, watch the INSPIRE 2021 European Summit session Fireside Chat with Kingfisher: Recruitment Results with a Hiring-Manager Centric Talent Strategy 


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