Turning the Tide On Turnover

This article accompanies Recruiting With Class.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
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Creative recruiting initiatives aren't limited to college co-eds. Distressed by unacceptably high turnover at its 38 U.S. properties, Las Vegas-based Harrah's Entertainment Inc. recognized that a big part of the problem was the perception that "gaming was the place you'd go get a job if you could not find one anywhere else," says Brad Warga, corporate vice president of talent and employee engagement.

Indeed, 80 percent of Harrah's new hires had been unemployed prior to finding work at one of the gaming company's properties. Seeking to attract a higher-quality candidate, Harrah's sent recruiters to scout out great talent already working at the likes of Target, Wal-Mart and McDonald's.

"We set out to find people with a great smile, providing great service and directly recruited them to come and have coffee with us," says Warga. "We just happened to arrange for 20 to 25 people to come and have coffee at the same time."

Unknowingly, the candidates were about to participate in Harrah's "Panel Audition," which Warga describes as the company's version of "American Idol."

Following a presentation by one of Harrah's vice presidents, participants were instructed to get out of their chairs for a round of "buzzertainment," an assortment of loud, zany games designed to make people uncomfortable. Next, they sat down and answered a series of questions such as when they had exceeded a customer's expectations and where they would like to be in five years.

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All the while, Harrah's recruiters were watching to see how they responded and interacted with one another.

Panel judges left the room for 10 minutes, then returned and announced which candidates had passed the audition. Hiring managers then arrived to conduct formal interviews, after which these potential new hires were invited back for a realistic job preview, working with those who would be their co-workers should they accept the opportunity. Roughly 70 percent of those who passed the audition ultimately decided that Harrah's was the place for them.

Thanks to the Panel Audition process, Harrah's 90-day turnover dropped from 28 percent to six percent and overall turnover dropped from 40 percent to 19 percent. These days, Harrah's recruiters spend far less time visiting Target stores. There are more than enough Panel Audition contestants to keep Harrah's pipeline full of top-notch candidates for the foreseeable future.

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