How The Davey Tree Expert Company Expanded Reach of Recruiting Efforts and Reduced Time to Hire

How The Davey Tree Expert Company Expanded Reach of Recruiting Efforts and Reduced Time to Hire

A look at the recruiting methods Davey uses to optimize its unique hiring strategy, attract more candidates, communicate better, and hire faster

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In a recent SAPinsider research survey, SAP HCM and SAP SuccessFactors customers were asked to identify which metrics were most important for measuring the success of their HCM strategies and actions. The leading answer was employee satisfaction (48%), but two measurements critical to talent acquisition were close behind in the results – time-to-hire (36%) and cost-per-hire (27%). The importance placed on these metrics shows that customers of all sizes and industries continue to feel pressure to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of recruiting efforts in order to meet important strategic goals.

Tackling Recruiting Effectiveness at Davey

Headquartered in Kent, Ohio, The Davey Tree Expert Company (Davey) and its 10,500 employees provide tree, utility, lawn care, and environmental consulting services in hundreds of locations across the US and Canada. Due to the nature of its work and the high levels of attrition (particularly in the hourly workforce), Davey hires or rehires thousands of employees (over 50% of its workforce) per year. Nearly 50% of those hires are walk-in candidates at offices or walk-up candidates at job sites and many don’t have regular access to computers or email. This often creates hiring bottlenecks at local offices and job sites.

The company sought to improve efficiency, reduce time to hire, and to understand the candidate experience across its distributed workforce. Davey started by mapping its hiring processes to assess the steps and effort involved. The resulting process maps highlighted the actions and time that were required to go from creation of a job requisition to posting, selection, offer, drug screening, onboarding, and orientation of the new hire. The maps also highlighted the need for greater efficiency in talent acquisition.

Attempt to Improve Hiring Process Efficiency Causes New Bottlenecks

In order to reduce the time and effort of hiring and to improve the candidate experience, the team at Davey engaged SAP Media Services to help boost traffic to their jobs site through search engine optimization (SEO). While there were positive improvements from this effort, the overall results for Davey were mixed. Davey noticed that while the job site traffic doubled after this program began, the increased volume did not correspond to a similar increase in applications.

The increased exposure the jobs received online worked well for the more popular jobs but didn’t increase the candidate pools for harder-to-fill jobs on the site. Meanwhile, many applicants attracted through this method were deemed to be less qualified than those who had applied before. Finally, the sheer volume of the responses that arrived after the service began outpaced recruiting staff capacity, creating additional bottlenecks.

Identifying the Right Solution for Davey’s Unique Hiring Process

Since nearly half of the jobs filled each year are walk-up or walk-in candidates, Davey has found success in marketing jobs through signage in communities and near job sites. To make it easier for candidates reading the sign to contact the company, Davey contracted SAP Digital Interconnect to allow them to engage candidates directly via an SMS number posted on the sign. For example, the signage might say, “Now Hiring. Text #TreeJobs to 12345.” The SAP Digital Interconnect service allows Davey’s recruiting team to advertise locally at or near job sites where their trucks or branding might be visible and then to field and respond to these SMS messages quickly. The results of this service have been positive, with increasing numbers of applicants connecting with Davey via the SMS information found on the signs and advertisements.

One of the biggest inefficiencies Davey identified in the hiring processes was related to walk-ins at local offices or walk-ups to company vehicles. The process entailed manual applications and subsequent entries into the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting system. The process was time consuming for both the applicant and the local manager who handled the in-person process. To expedite the in-person, “deskless” application experience, the Davey team built a mobile-friendly app using SAP Fiori that enables candidates to easily complete the application via a tablet in the office or in the field and allows managers to quickly validate and complete their necessary steps on the same device.

The SAP Fiori extension app also allows candidates to toggle between English and their native language before filling in the application, a feature that improves both candidate experience and data accuracy. The entire hiring process – from application to offer to acceptance – is completed via the tablet in under 10 minutes. The app feeds the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting system to complete the hire and greatly reduces the time local office management spends in managing walk-in and walk-up hire processes.  The app will go live at the end of 2020.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

To streamline talent acquisition processes in order to reduce both time-to-hire and cost-per-hire, SAPinsiders should:

  • Analyze existing recruiting process flows. Talent acquisition processes can be lengthy and time consuming, but they can also contain inefficiencies that have developed over time. By mapping recruiting processes like Davey did, it becomes easier to spot areas of potential improvement and to see how changes may impact the end-to-end process.
  • Prepare for the impact that new recruiting tactics may have on your existing staffing. When Davey invested in expanding SEO and media reach for its job sites, an unintended consequence was an increase in applicant volume that didn’t match its recruiting staff capacity. When adding new technology to recruiting processes, plan for the potential impact it may have on your resources when it goes into effect.
  • Create strategies that match your target applicant pool. Recruiting is not a one-size-fits-all event. In Davey’s case, the nature of hourly field jobs and the profiles of the job candidates meant that they needed to introduce tactics like SMS integration to better accommodate their target applicants. Customers should take advantage of both technology and messaging that will most effectively reach their desired applicants and simplify their application process.
  • Build extensions to boost existing technology. Recruiting technology processes are designed to be as flexible as possible, but customers should not be afraid to explore building extensions – with SAP Fiori, for example – to the delivered solutions if it can lead to time or cost saving improvements in their key recruiting metrics.

Following this strategic guidance should help SAP customers get the most out their SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting processes.

Make sure to download and read the SAPinsider report, “State of The Market How the Cloud Is Transforming HR.” Also, please contribute to the upcoming report, “Employee Central Adoption: Trends and Drivers” by filling out our latest survey.

AJ Whalen, Senior Research Analyst, SAPinsider, can be reached at

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