Symrise is investing € 1.5 million in the digitization of its HR work

The new system supports and organizes the selection process, from initial contact with candidates to when they start at the company, and also provides an electronic personnel file that’s always up to date. Dr. Iñigo Natzel, Head of Human Resources, explains in an interview how this benefits the company as well as current and potential employees.

Dr. Natzel, how important is it to digitize HR work at Symrise?

As a responsible employer, we want to be at the forefront in this arena. We have set ourselves a clear goal: Every position advertised at Symrise must be filled within 60 days, from initial search and evaluation of candidates to the employment contract being signed. To achieve this goal, we have begun digitizing our HR work. We’ll be investing approximately € 1.5 million in the project over a period of around five years. The project goals range from the introduction of a fully digitized selection process, which we launched at the beginning of 2018, to the harmonization of the HR management on a single platform.

Is it worth all the effort?

Financially speaking, it will pay for itself within two years. Once the process is up and running, costs will be much lower for the company. Take, for example, the selection process: The application process has always required a great deal of time and paper, for both the applicant and us. We are represented by HR teams at 22 sites around the world and work in a lot of different languages. We receive around 6,000 applications each year, 70 % of which are unsolicited. By digitizing our application process across the board, we have significantly reduced the amount of processing required. We can also recommend interested candidates for whom there might not be an appropriate job at the one site to other company sites, or save their information for the future, provided we have the applicant’s permission. We’ll also require fewer HR consultants and thus save a lot of money.

Can you describe the digitized selection process in detail?

If a university graduate, for example, is sitting on a subway train and comes across a Symrise job ad on their smartphone – maybe on an online job portal, on our website or via social media – they can apply with just a few clicks. They’ll land directly at our jobs@ Symrise online portal. There they can directly submit relevant information from career profiles such as LinkedIn and XING, rather than having to complete a lengthy form. Or they can submit their résumé as a Word or PDF file.

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We receive around 6,000 applications each year, 70% of which are unsolicited.

Do you also use the data you collect for preselection?

While our software does offer algorithms that allow us to search for certain criteria, we also know that a résumé is not everything. We always take a closer look and invite our more promising candidates to an interview. One exception is education: If high school students apply, they should have an average grade of at least 2.5 in Math, English, German and Chemistry.

How does digitization help further along the process of selecting candidates?

We help supervisors identify occupational expertise by offering tests that address math, language and strategic skills. The system also makes it easier to arrange appointments and documents the entire process, from the first job interview and supervisor feedback to all the communication that has taken place. Once an employee has been hired by Symrise, they’re given a user ID, under which their entire career path is documented, from the moment they’re hired to when they retire or leave the company.

Do existing employees also benefit from digitization?

We have overhauled our internal career market, where all job vacancies are published two weeks before they’re advertised externally. We have also created function-specific talent pools that include people who already work at Symrise. In the future there may be a job that’s a better fit for someone or that might give them the opportunity to develop their skills. Every employee can set up reminders that focus specifically on their interests. We will also be introducing an electronic personnel file in 2018. One important aspect will be self-service: Employees can take time off in lieu of overtime, request and plan vacation days, or print out reports such as payroll accounting or sick days themselves. The aim is to increase services for employees across all levels.