Paul Smith
HR Director at LV=General Insurance 

In their own words

“At LV= we pride ourselves on running successful recruitment campaigns which promote us as an employer of choice and attract great talent to join our growing business. People bring LV= to life and we wanted to show that in our employer brand. People are at the heart of our success and therefore a perfect articulation of our culture, spirits and values. Although we’ve nearly 6,000 employees in 22 different locations, we still have a very local feel so our recruitment advertising celebrates local areas we’re recruiting in and shares stories of the people working in our offices. We’re also making the most of rapid advances in technology to strengthen our employer brand message – from using social media to reach candidates and IP recognition to give visitors to our website a ‘local welcome’, to recruitment leaflets that come to life with video testimonials at the scan of a mobile phone. Is it working for us? Absolutely. We’ve filled vacancies very successfully and saved significant costs of recruitment agencies. “

The organisation

In 2007 Liverpool Victoria invested in a major rebranding programme, and later that year LV= was born.  The organisation is a leading financial mutual with product offerings ranging from investments and general insurance to life and retirement solutions. They are also a top provider of income protection, car insurance and enhanced annuities in the UK. As well as their head office in Bournemouth, LV= has 16 other offices in Basildon, Brentwood, Bristol, Croydon, Exeter, Hitchin, Huddersfield, Ipswich, Leeds and London, growing from just three offices back in 2007.

Today, LV= has around 5,800 staff compared to around 1,750 five years ago.  Much of the growth has been organic using direct marketing and innovative recruitment advertising techniques. In 2007, LV= was spending around £4m on recruitment with an 80% reliance on recruitment consultants, the organisation now uses consultants just 3% of the time, usually for very niche, complex or senior roles. In 2012, they handled 23,000 direct applications.

How they articulate their employer brand

“People are at the heart of what we do. You need to be sharp with a heart and we’ll give you a job you’ll love.” The organisation’s employee proposition is present and consistent in all of their recruitment campaigns. People are featured prominently and often with their signature ‘big green heart’ to represent their caring values. Their careers website is filled with LV= employees from across the UK, and their experiences, in their words. LV= also successfully manipulates the latest technology to welcome prospective employees into their culture and offer them a true insight of what working at LV= is like directly from their people. For example, the organisation launched posters using image recognition technology, allowing prospective candidates to take a photo of the employee featured on the advert and subsequently, receive a message from that person about their experience working at LV=.

Refreshing their employer brand

At the end of 2011, LV= decided that due to their growth and presence in different locations, it was time to refresh the look of their employer brand and its associated marketing materials and careers site. With the assistance of ThirtyThree, their partnered recruitment advertising agency, it was agreed that they would refresh and update their employer image while still keeping their people, their signature green hearts and their brand personality as key focuses.

LV= wanted to be recognised as a major employer in the locations they’re based but they also wanted to show that although now a big company, they still have a local, ‘family’ company mentality in many ways. It was clear that their range of locations needed to be reflected within their employer image and to encapsulate this, the LV= recruitment teams and ThirtyThree decided to use employees from varying levels, departments and offices as the focal points of their new recruitment campaigns, branding and advertising.

Rather than management hand-selecting people, LV= launched an internal competition inviting existing employees to submit their photos with the chance of becoming one of the ‘faces of LV=’. They carried out roadshows where employees could have their photographs taken with fun props and in groups of friends. The response was overwhelming and a diverse cross-section of employees ‘who represented the real LV=’ were picked to attend a day’s photoshoot where they posed on or around the heart-shaped Big Brother chair and beanbag, to capture their personality. The photographs are featured on the careers website and also used for an ongoing suite of advertising materials. This proved to be a good internal engagement piece for the organisation, thoroughly enjoyed all who took part. As a thank you, they all received a personalised ‘Face of LV=’ mug afterwards and a DVD of their best shots.

The LV= careers website

Since launching their initial recruitment website, LV= has become a much larger and more complex organisation with 10 major offices across the UK. With up to 100 vacancies at any one time on the site, LV= wanted to ensure all information was clear and easy to digest as well as to build their employer brand in each of their key locations.

To achieve this, the new careers website uses IP recognition software to identify the geographical location of a visitor and deliver content specific to the LV= office nearest to them. The ‘welcome’ video and stories from the local LV= office are designed to make the website feel personalised and familiar. Simply having the ‘welcome’ message in an accent familiar to the visitor has an instant impact. Jobs local to the visitor are also advertised on the homepage of the site to make career opportunities relevant and easily accessible. Put simply, someone looking at the website in Bournemouth will see one thing, and somebody in Croydon or Leeds, something else. If the visitor is based outside of a commutable distance from the office, they receive a more general website experience, also given the option to choose their nearest location. The IP recognition, mapping and content delivery takes less than 0.5 seconds having no impact on the page load time, and because it is done on the server (and not the website) there is no need to wait for any content to load. So, from a visitor’s point of view they have no idea that it is all taking place.

This more personalised, localised experience means that visitors receive the information they need and has worked very well for LV= with 75% of visitors arriving on the website and seeing film, stories and jobs all relevant to their geographical location.

Thinking smartphone and tablet

Recognising that over 20% of visitors access their careers website through a mobile device, LV= knew that to meet the needs of the jobseeker they needed a careers website that would render on a desktop, tablet and smartphone, any time, anywhere. The new LV= careers site was designed and developed with this in mind. For example, the website is fully responsive without the use of Flash so works perfectly on iPads and other tablets. What’s more, LV= has also launched a smartphone enabled website. Not only does the site use the user’s GPS to locate jobs close to them, the job search and online application process have been specifically

designed and simplified to meet the needs of the mobile job seeker. In just over six months, the mobile site had received over 25,000 visits, the LV= careers iPhone app had been downloaded 3,485 times and 3,600 people visitors had used the ‘email me this job to apply later’ option.

LV= has also used mobile technology to encourage jobseekers to engage with them.

LV= decided to use Aurasma augmented reality to make their careers leaflets interactive, so that people could see and hear for themselves – and from the people who already work there. They developed a suite of leaflets covering a number of departments within LV= each carrying a specific ‘Aura’ that when viewed using the ‘Work at LV=’ App would play a video relevant to that department. They also used interactive bus shelter advertising to allow people to bring LV= adverts to life and have the employees in the posters talk to passers-by.

Social media

Another huge part of LV=’s employer brand is their social media activity. The ‘Social LV=’ function of their website features regularly updated stories from different employees’ from across the organisation such as mothers returning to work after having a child, graduates, people on secondment, senior management and many more – each with a different story to tell. These are in the people’s own words to portray the variety of personalities and encapsulate the LV= culture. There are also a number of stories about corporate happenings such as awards events and financial reviews. This is a great platform to celebrate LV= as an employer and give people an insight into life at LV=.

These stories are shared on LV= Careers’ site and regularly updated Facebook and Twitter pages. These channels also feature jobs, charity events, useful tips for jobseekers, information about the local areas and much more. They also provide a helpful forum for prospective candidates to interact with LV=’s resourcing team, ask questions and get additional information.

Measuring success of recruitment campaigns, branding and advertising

Since working with ThirtyThree to enhance their employer brand and adopt a direct recruitment model, LV= has made significant recruitment savings. In 2007, they were spending over £4 million on agencies to recruit 750 people over just three locations. Today, they’ve nearer 2,000 vacancies to fill and they spend half of the budget. 97% of their hires are now direct. LV= has also found that because of the continued improvements to their employer brand, the organisation has managed to recruit individuals with the right attitude which has led to improved retention.

The industry average for turnover in call centres is around 42%. In 2012, LV=’s turnover was just 15.2% compared to 38% two years before. Engagement rates have also rapidly increased with a recent employee engagement survey showing an 85% engagement rate, up 20% from 2007. LV= is currently carrying out a nationwide employer branding survey to find out how satisfied employees and candidates are and ascertain their reputation in the market.