In February 2015, Pôle Emploi, France’s national employment agency, presented #Poleemploi2020, a strategic plan including the implementation of several major projects. One of these involves stepping up the organisation’s digital transformation.
So how can digital address job-seekers’ needs and expectations? How can you innovate and open up to the ecosystem whilst handling the restrictions associated with public procurement? How to involve 50,000 employees in an ambitious digital project?
These are precisely the kinds of challenges Anne-Léone Campanella, who’s been director of Pôle Emploi’s digital programme since the summer of 2014, has had to face. She told us how she has contributed to this digital adventure, for example by setting up the Emploi Store, a platform whereby users can access a range of digital employment services.
=> Also on our blog: Pole Emploi is working hard to digitalise job searching
Anne-Léone Campanella has been busy. Her road map, which she drew up in 2015, is for a four-year period. From the very first year, she was faced with a major challenge: increase their digital credibility. “Pôle Emploi has launched some digital initiatives but we’re not yet recognised as a digital company,” she explains.
The focus of this project is the end-users, i.e. job-seekers and companies, but also, within the organisation, the employees, who will help build and drive this transformation. The cornerstone of this digital plan is the Emploi Store, a portal launched in July 2015 offering over 100 employment services for job-seekers, including on-line training courses (MOOCs), serious games, interview simulations, etc. All the services belong to four main categories: choosing a profession, training, preparing your application and finding a job.
“The project sprang from digital initiatives that Pôle Emploi had already implemented, such as aggregating job offers,” says Anne-Léone Campanella. For the past few years, the Pôle Emploi website features not only its own job offers but vacancies from 70 job boards. Another project that already existed before the digital plan was ‘100% web’, a remote service whereby job-seekers can communicate with a Pole employ branch via web chat, email, web call-back and videoconferencing.
When the platform was first launched it featured 101 services; now there are 187 and a few weeks ago, Pôle Emploi celebrated the arrival of its 100th partner. For the organisation doesn’t work alone: startups, major groups, universities: any organisation involved in employment, career orientation and vocational training are encouraged to offer tools for job-seekers.
WORKING HAND-IN-HAND WITH THE Ecosystem
And the Emploi Store is constantly evolving, a development that is only possible because a number of partners have got involved in the project. “We started off by working with Pôle Emploi’s partners and explained our approach to offer a tailored solution to job-seekers’ needs,” remembers Anne-Léone Campanella. “Our end-users had very high expectations about accessing employment services on line. And together we had to match these expectations.”
Around fifty companies, startups and public organisations have agreed to provide their services via the Emploi Store, without even having seen it, because they only get to see it two weeks before the official launch.
Now, the partners themselves volunteer to put their services on the platform: around forty startups, 28 job boards and fifteen or so public organisations share their services and tools on the platform. Other major allies come in the form of large groups. One example is insurance group Allianz, who’ve developed a simulator that enables candidates to practise selling insurance. The tool was already used by Allianz in-house, and has been adapted for the general public.
Allianz simulator: playing the role of an Allianz sales agent and selling car insurance to a demanding, impatient customer.
If the applicant passes the test, they are contacted by the HR department from a local branch to arrange a face-to-face interview. The purpose is to look beyond the applicant’s CV and experience and recruit talents – and so far, it’s worked: the simulator has led to four recruitments since the beginning of the year, and around thirty others are ongoing.
“In an age where digital has taken over our lives and is turning processes upside down, companies and large groups are innovating in recruitment.”
Another example is Eurotunnel. The group has put a MOOC on the Emploi Store designed to promote the railway industry and recruit train drivers. The online training course also includes a serious game whereby the applicant drives a train!
The most recent contribution to the site comes from Orange: the telecoms provider has uploaded a MOOC on jobs in the digital industry from its careers website. Being on the Emploi Store gives Orange access to job-seekers.
Pôle Emploi is also developing its own services, such as online courses on planning careers, a serious game for sandwich-course students and a simulator that combines cinema and artificial intelligence to enable users to prepare for job interviews.
Pôle Emploi’s simulator: using an interface similar to the Allianz simulator, job-seekers can interact with a potential employer via a multiple-choice question system.
And the platform is scalable. At the end of 2015, a feature enabling users to leave comments was added, and a number of web conferences have been organised. To attend, users just log onto the platform on the appointed date and time. They can also submit any questions directly via the #EmploiStoreConf on Twitter.
Over the next few months, dedicated spaces for setting up a business or international mobility will be available on the site, and Pôle Emploi will list all overseas opportunities, particularly in Canada.
IMPROVING agilitY THANKS TO lean startup mEthods
To shake things up at Pôle Emploi, Anne-Léone Campanella uses innovative methods:
“We applied iterative development methodology, working with the IT department. We’ve changed Pôle Emploi’s traditional processes in favour of test & learn.”
And it’s been effective: Emploi Store went live nine months after the project started. In addition to the dedicated team, around twenty departments have contributed. This involved workshops attended by employees from the network – “All different profiles, geeks and non-geeks,” says Anne-Léone Campanella. “The idea was to identify together the services that could be developed for job-seekers.” The ideas submitted are then challenged with feedback from job-seekers themselves throughout the project.
In addition to these various initiatives, a benchmark study was conducted in France and overseas on the subject of employment, but not just that. The aim was to draw inspiration from what’s happening online, but they noticed that nothing completely matched job-seekers’ expectations.
“Setting up the Emploi Store platform was a real innovation: we’re pioneers in France and the rest of the world.”
Anne-Léone Campanella is particularly proud of the fact that the Russians, Germans, Swedes, Italians and Norwegians are drawing inspiration from Emploi Store to address the needs of job-seekers in their own country.
A SMALL, Startup-STYLE TEAM
Anne-Léone Campanella’s team began with 4 people and now has 15. Some of the new profiles that didn’t previously exist at Pôle Emploi include the Community Manager, who’s in charge of developing the Twitter and Facebook accounts and the blog and Youtube channel where they’ve posted teasers for the services and web conferences. Other members of the team were recruited from within the organisation, including the training specialist, Team Leader and Advisor, all of whom provide an extremely diverse skillset. “What they all have in common is a desire to move forward,” explains Anne-Léone Campanella, who describes them as real “intrapreneurs”. In her opinion, the small size of the team is an advantage:
“The ‘internal startup’ thing has been a real asset. We started out on a small scale.”
Every day, the team gets together for the daily scrum meeting. Between 1:45pm and 2 o’clock, everyone gets together in the same office. They pass a ball around, and whoever holds the ball can speak and raise any issues he or she has come across and thus set up a dialogue.
“We may go wrong 15 times a day and face 4 challenges an hour. But we’ve succeeded because we wanted to and because we support each other. The biggest compliment my teams have paid me was to describe me as a Chief Happiness Officer!”
So what’s the secret of their success? It’s simple, according to Anne-Léone Campanella: share constantly, trust your employees and get them to be self-sufficient, whilst maintain a team spirit.
“The key success factor is having dynamic, motivated people. They’ve got to be versatile and be prepared to move things forward, turn things upside-down, and see opportunities where other people only see problems.”
GET LOTS OF PEOPLE ON BOARD
Whilst not all of Pôle Emploi’s 50,000 employees were involved in the project, over a hundred of them have contributed at one time or another. “Getting employees involved in the project is essential,” says Campanella. “Most of our staff deal with job-seekers on a daily basis and have expertise that we could use on the web platform so more people can benefit from it.”
The Emploi Store was developed by Pôle Emploi’s IT department, but the services available on it (MOOCs, serious games, simulators etc.) were devised by working with external service providers following a public call for tender.
To do this, the digital programme director came up what she calls a winning combination: “The service provider developed the tool in conjunction with Pôle Emploi’s staff, both members of the digital team and operational staff.” As a result the services devised combine market-standard IT technology and the wealth of Pôle Emploi’s in-house expertise.
“This cooperation between service providers and our in-house teams has contributed to the digital transformation of Pôle Emploi, because it’s got employees involved. This project’s been a real catalyst: it’s created a real sense of belonging.”
Another essential factor to get people on board: communication and training.
“Before Emploi Store was launched, we explained to our employees what serious games and MOOCs were. We went round our regional branches to promote it and, just before it went online, all Pôle Emploi staff who deal with the general public received a day’s training on how to use the platform and its content.”
And yet, there’s still room for improvement: Anne-Léone Campanella is well aware that a day’s training isn’t much. “We still need to work on combining the digital services offering with the traditional services offering.”
“The digital driver can address users’ needs by giving them access to employment services at any time, and enabling employees to focus their efforts on people with difficulties.”
A USER-ORIENTED APPROACH
Where the end-users are concerned, feedback has been very encouraging. At the end of 2015, a survey on the platform revealed an overall satisfaction rate of 89%. Furthermore, 84% of respondents thought Emploi Store was useful for job searches. “There was a very positive response,” says Campanella.
“We focused on users’ needs. We knew that with this platform and its content, we were satisfying expectations.”
“End-users’ needs should be the focus of any digital project,” Campanella stresses. For they’re the ones who will shape the way the platform develops: “What we delivered on 2 July 2015, it’s the basic model. We know we still have a long way to go.”