Wendy’s Chief People Officer Adopts Blended Recruiting Strategy

June 30, 2016 – Talent acquisition strategies at many large companies have become as complex as their balance sheets. And while chief human resource officers (CHRO) play a vital role in overseeing an organization’s broad-based workforce, it is the chief people officer who typically goes beyond overseeing its people policies. The focus, instead, is on building talent as a key competitive advantage, with more emphasis put on culture, which includes values, ethics, and mission.

Today, the chief people officer position is still a relatively new title within the HR function. It first appeared about a decade ago. But now, as companies look to build internal brand awareness and set their sights more on establishing and driving their own unique cultures, CPOs are coming more into vogue.

In the following interview, Scott Weisberg, chief people officer at Wendy’s, discusses the nuances of managing recruitment efforts at the $10 billion international fast food chain. Leveraging and blending external search partners with his in-house recruiting team, Mr. Weisberg reveals how he expertly navigates the staffing challenges his company has come to face on a global basis. He then takes a straight-forward look at his relationship with search firms, including the need for professional flexibility.

Prior to joining Wendy’s in 2012, Mr. Weisberg served in senior level human resource roles with PepsiCo, Nabisco and General Mills.

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Scott, describe your role as chief people officer. 

I work closely with Wendy’s senior leaders and my HR team to ensure we have the right talent, organizational processes / systems and culture to consistently deliver a ‘deliciously different’ experience to our customers. I am fortunate to work on a brand that provides outstanding opportunity to over 200,000 employees who strive to delight every customer they serve.

Talk about the value your position holds at Wendy’s.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked in companies throughout my career that valued the role of the human resources function and their HR leaders. In any company that requires human capital as the driving force to compete, the chief HR officer role is important. In today’s world in which there is increasing need for business / profitable growth, greater levels of shareholder involvement and keen competition for talent at all levels of an organization, having a trusted HR leader is of more importance than ever.

What can you tell us about your recruiting strategy?

At Wendy’s, we have built a blended staffing strategy that utilizes external search for unique skills and an internal staffing department for multi-incumbent roles where we can take advantage of scale. Increasingly, having a staffing department that invests in talented in-house recruiters who have strong research capabilities has allowed us to be both responsive to our internal clients and deliver cost effective staffing results.

As you know, in-house recruiting has expanded rapidly. What’s happening at Wendy’s?

We built our staffing department at Wendy’s to deliver against the measures that I imagine most companies are interested in: the time to fill roles; the cost per hire; and the relative quality of the people or hires we make. In addition, building a staffing function that is responsive to the number of hires required is also important. This balance of achieving a strong performance orientation, as well as being prudent from a cost management perspective, is what we have tried to accomplish.

Under what circumstances do you retain a search firm?

We have utilized external search partners typically at the most senior levels or for jobs that require unique skills. At the senior level, we use external search partners because many of the executives we hope to recruit will only respond to opportunities from recruiters with whom they have built a trusting relationship over time. When searching for people with unique skill sets, I find it helpful to work with an external recruiter that has an emphasis or specializes in that area.

What’s been your personal experience working with executive recruiters and what’s changing?

I’ve been fortunate to work with several terrific search firms and partners. I always appreciate those firms and individuals who are most responsive to the need we have articulated and are effective at filling that need. In some cases we have worked with a search professional on the straight-forward task of filling a job. But we have also asked firms to execute some portion of the staffing process – research, for example – and then hand-off that work to our internal team. Having this level of flexibility, and being effective at it, is what I value in our external partners.

Contributed by Christopher W. Hunt, Publisher, Hunt Scanlon Media and Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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