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It’s not easy to recap the five-day binge of HR insights that was the AvatureUpfront Digital – EU 2020. But, as we did with the Virtual Summit in China in August and the Digital Summit in Australia in October, let’s give it our best shot.

The event, which boasted over 250 attendees, presented an impressive lineup led by some of the biggest names in the region such as Deutsche Bahn and Baloise. There was also the Avature Roadmap, a guided tour of Avature’s latest features and updates; the Avature Technical Track and the Avature Specialist Certification Sessions for those interested in deep diving even further into the platform and its core system; and there was even the opportunity to watch Dimitri Boylan, Avature founder and CEO, chat about talent trends in today’s market with HR insider William Tincup.

We’ve decided to highlight some of the biggest overarching themes we gathered from the virtual hallways and give you a small taste of what you missed. If you wish to watch all speaker presentations plus the Power User Academy you can also do so on-demand.

Let’s dig in.

Agility might just save the day

Let’s be honest: 2020 caught everybody off guard. And try as we may, predicting what may come in the future seems quite futile. We can, however, develop strategies to deal with uncertain scenarios, and it all begins with finding tools that offer agility and flexibility and, therefore, adapt to whatever conditions your company may find itself in. In one of his latest reports, industry insider Josh Bersin made the case for Avature as such a solution: “now that Avature has expanded into all areas of talent acquisition (from sourcing to video interviewing to scheduling to onboarding and even internal talent mobility), it has emerged as one of the most adaptable platforms in the market.”

So it’s really no surprise Avature’s agility was one of the main buzzwords going around the EU Upfront. Specsavers, for example, has been singing that Avature attribute for a while now. In this edition, Kenneth Renneberg, Head of Recruitment Data & Systems at the company, examined the challenges of the new reality, the structural changes of his company and just how Avature enables it all.

As the world’s largest family owned optical chain, Specsavers is currently in 10 countries in Europe, operating in five different languages. Their relationship with Avature began in 2015 and has been evolving constantly thanks to the platform’s customizable nature. By the beginning of 2020, the company had several challenges at hand, mainly creating a lifecycle workflow that traced professionals from student to recent graduate to working in a store to becoming a partner (plus implementing a communication plan and a GDPR compliance workflow attached). So once the pandemic was in full swing, even though they were forced to freeze hirings, they took advantage of the time off to “clean up the system” and adopt changes seamlessly.

In the case of the most important monetary authority in the Eurozone, Avature was the ideal partner for building an automated internal scoring system that would help them keep track of key KPIs related to diversity, while being transparent to candidates about their metrics. The company’s gender diversity strategy goes back to 2013 when only 17 percent of managerial roles in their structure were female. And although they made significant progress by the time 2019 had arrived (increasing to 30 percent), they wished to get that number even higher. So last October, they replaced their CV sifting process from an outdated Excel to the Avature system, where reporting (especially aggregate reporting) is now also achieved, leading to a considerable reduction of anchoring bias.

Avature also helped the company automate their transparency measures throughout the recruiting process. Rejected candidates are now given specific information behind each decision and each process culminates in a full report that provides them details of how exactly they were assessed. For any company, such implementations would’ve been a big challenge, but given that the bank is under increased scrutiny as a public institution, workflows had to also be configured to align to strict policies. Hence, Avature’s adaptability took centerstage: “our processes have more controls than other institutions”, explained Sonia Cuchillo-Palencia, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at the company. “But it was great to see how Avature was flexible enough to adapt to the needs that we had. We managed to create a workflow that was fully aligned to our policies and our rules thanks to the flexibility of the tool”.

Another example of Avature’s adaptability in action was presented by Craig Sweeney, SVP Global Strategic Solutions at Wilson HCG, Mark Duffin, Director of Global Implementation & Solutions at Wilson HCG, and Jason Carter, Associate Director EMEA Talent Acquisition at Astellas Pharma. Together they explained how joining forces made the pharmaceutical company’s expansion possible, all in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

The main drivers behind the Astellas Pharma expansion were to create a centralized talent function with a global mindset and to operate as a global organization of over 4,700 employees rather than as separate entities, all the while leveraging technology to improve user experience, automate processes and drive efficiencies within talent acquisition.

The technology portion of the whole operation was covered by Avature. The result was a quick and effective global rollout that allowed variations in workflows by region, extensive language capability and optimized end-user experience for both hiring managers and candidates. “Avature’s robust tech platform accelerates processes while increasing compliance”, explained Duffin. “From language barriers to contrasting cultures to local regulation, flexibility and agility were key to a successful rollout”.

Show your workforce some love

In the context of hiring freezes and furloughs during the pandemic, market leaders are now maximizing their existing workforce and looking for ways to better engage their employees. Internal mobility programs, referrals and appraisals can not only empower your employees in the face of change but can also deliver a competitive advantage for companies going forward.

For the Swiss insurance service provider Baloise, 2020 has been the perfect opportunity to stimulate referral activity with the help of Avature by breaking with traditional referral conventions. Timm Suess, the company’s Talent Acquisition & Analytics Manager, explained how the company went from having an employee referral program largely unknown to the majority of their workforce, to an impressive 25 percent of all hires coming through that channel.

The secret? Perhaps the attention to detail behind the program’s inception, an impressive mix of interviewing former referees, researching behavioral economists and benchmarking with other companies. You might also consider the strong marketing campaign they launched to promote the program. But Suess is quick to point out the importance of using Avature for the successful implementation, which allowed a complete integration into their internal job market and a custom, efficient workflow that vastly outperformed their previous, more manual process.

Siegfried, on the other hand, has been using Avature to evolve its approach to employee appraisals, from outdated, rigid and spreadsheet-driven, to a flexible, highly-configurable and multilingual performance management framework. As Katharina Karpf, Senior HR Project Manager at the company explained, until 2019 targets, performance reviews and bonus factor calculations were documented on an excel document, with challenges ranging from lack of process control and traceability to absence of reporting possibilities and standardization. Avature offered a customized solution that mirrored the existing process, but by translating it into a more robust web-based tool in which the data is easily accessible, it can be further developed and scaled as the company grows.

Don’t hesitate. Automate

As talent stakeholders seek to optimize sourcing, screening, segmentation and candidate communication efforts during the pandemic and going forward, the use of automation has become increasingly important to make the most out of the limited resources available. Companies such as Deutsche Bahn have been at the forefront of this sort of evolution, constantly finding ways to improve recruiting. The EU Upfront was the ideal opportunity for presenting their new onboarding experience, a unique, fully customized and automated Avature solution to accompany more than an estimated 18,000 new hires per year.

Deutsche Bahn has been using a global Avature solution for recruiting since 2017, rolled out in about 40 countries, with an award-winning candidate experience and automated workflows for emailing, forms, status updates and more. But their onboarding experience lagged behind. They determined they needed a tool to keep their new hires informed and engaged during the hiring and onboarding process while also facilitating and optimizing the manager’s job. They also established that, given the fact that they plan on welcoming close to 100,000 hires in the upcoming years, they required as much automation as possible.

The result was an integrated platform that digitized their onboarding and generated a seamless cross-over from recruiting to onboarding. Not only that but Deutsche Bahn has big plans for the welcome portal going forward, including integrating tasks and form completion requests, sharing documents uploaded by managers and showcasing the latest company news.


The AvatureUpfront Digital – EU 2020 was officially our last event of 2020. Although it’s been a challenging year for all, it’s great to know there’s plenty of inspiration to be found for building strategies to tackle whatever may lie ahead. Uncertainty seems to have become the norm, but hopefully, events like this can serve as a reminder that thriving is still very much a possibility in 2021.


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