Holcim: Safety and quality – recruiting in the construction industry

Being one of the country’s leading firms in the building and construction industry means Holcim must ensure its hires are adequately qualified and prepared to step into a variety of challenging roles. Garth Quinn, National Recruitment and Retention Manager at Holcim, is responsible for selecting, vetting and ultimately placing hundreds of new employees every year. Here, he provides insight on how he uses technology to recruit the best talent.

As a leading supplier of aggregates, concrete (readymix) and concrete pipe and products, Holcim employs a massive workforce all across Australia. So it’s unsurprising that such an expansive operation, which hires unskilled labourers right through to C-suite leaders, means recruitment is an integral part of Holcim’s continued success.

National Recruitment and Retention Manager Garth Quinn understands Holcim’s need for state-of-the-art hiring practices better than anyone, and he says recruiting for the company relies on two constants: safety and quality.

“At Holcim, we are really focused on safety and quality,” he says.

“Those are our two main drivers, but safety is by far the biggest focus for everyone. Most companies say they strive for safety, but we live and breathe it. People who’ve previously worked in oil and gas and then join Holcim are usually surprised by just how central safety is to our business – we are driving safety through everything we do, and we are constantly looking at ways to be better at it.”

Finding the best of the best in a crowded market

While safety is a key focus for every Holcim employee, especially as the company often employs unskilled and semi-skilled labourers at short notice, Quinn says locating the right workers has become a major challenge in an increasingly competitive market.

“There’s been an infrastructure boom in Sydney recently, which will be replicated in Brisbane and Melbourne soon,” Quinn says. “So it’s hard to find the best talent at all levels, whether it’s engineering, unskilled labour or project management.

“Everyone is looking for the same type of person: the best. So it’s a tight little market and very competitive.”

Implementing proper hiring practices to avoid risk

While beating out the competition to hire the best talent is a daily challenge, Quinn says it can lead to unexpected struggles. Namely, if Holcim fails to do its due diligence on a background check for a new employee, it could open the company up to much greater problems than just a lost worker and their wages.

“Risks come in a number of areas,” he says. “We need to qualify people in various phases: that means checking their employment history, getting police checks, as well as verifying their right to work in Australia.

The police check, especially, is a given for everyone – at all levels of the company. Engineers and accountants – it doesn’t matter.

Failure to properly check an applicant exposes us to a lot of risk. So it’s all about risk aversion.”

Quinn is quick to clarify that it’s not only the short-term hires who can pose a risk should a background check not be adequate.

“If you employ someone who isn’t qualified and they design a product for a customer that fails, then questions will be asked,” he says. “If a civil engineer, for example, designs a product that falls over, that would be a potential lawsuit.”

Embracing technology to focus on what’s important

Thankfully, two of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks – verifying qualifications and visa checks – have been simplified for Quinn through background check services provided by CVCheck.

“Qualifications are still one of the biggest things people falsify,” Quinn says. “In the past, it was a bit awkward to check. You’d have to go through the university system yourself, and often people would have three or four degrees, which is really time-consuming.

“There are also lots of engineers working on visa arrangements of different varieties. But by doing a VEVO (Visa Entitlement Verification Online) check, we can mitigate that risk of employing someone who doesn’t have the right to work here.”

With so many new hires required on a daily basis across Holcim projects, Quinn simply doesn’t have the time to manually verify each applicant’s right to work in the country, their visa status and their qualifications – which is where CVCheck takes over.

“We’ve been using CVCheck now for 18 months.” […] “They are a vital part of our verification process. We select from a menu of CVCheck products and it’s as simple as putting in a name, address and phone number. CVCheck does the rest.”

Garth Quinn
Garth QuinnNational Recruitment and Retention Manager at Holcim

In the past 18 months, Holcim has verified and hired hundreds of external workers – a process that’s been expedited thanks to CVCheck’s services.

“Since we started using CVCheck, every external hire – that’s around 600-odd so far – has gone through their checking processes in various ways.”

Holcim’s continued focus on sustainable development

By tapping into CVCheck’s service, Quinn says Holcim can focus on what matters most: safety, quality and sustainable development.

In addition to respecting the environment through protecting the resources it uses, Holcim has strong ties to Australian communities through its Community Link service. The page provides comprehensive information on new projects and development applications, and keeps people informed about how Holcim is impacting their community.

Ultimately, by being able to streamline its recruiting process in partnership with CVCheck, Holcim is in a better position to commit to achieving its community, environmental and safety goals.

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