Balfour Beatty

Using assessments leads to more diverse workforce for global company

Published on 11-Nov-2013

Balfour Beatty

Construction / Architecture / Engineering

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Smarter Workforce, Social Business for Recruiting and Onboarding, Social Business


Balfour Beatty is a world-class infrastructure group with core capabilities in construction services, professional services, support services and infrastructure investments. The company works with partners and customers principally in the United Kingdom, the United States, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe. Balfour Beatty employs 50,000 people around the world. Website:

Business need:
Align recruitment process to attract candidates who possess the requisite skills and key behaviors for graduate hire positions with goal that they can make broader contributions throughout the company.

IBM® Kenexa® Behavioral Assessments for Professional and Managerial Roles on Cloud enabled Balfour Beatty to pinpoint graduates who had the potential to be stronger performers.

Hiring based on ability tests and behavioral competencies enabled the company to find candidates who are team-oriented and stronger performers in a more integrated business. Realized savings on internal resources and revenue by reducing time-to-hire and streamlining candidate selection process. Robust training centers help ensure the best graduate position candidates are selected.

Case Study

Balfour Beatty is a world-class infrastructure group with core capabilities in construction services, professional services, support services and infrastructure investments. The company works with partners and customers principally in the United Kingdom, the United States, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe. Balfour Beatty employs 50,000 people around the world. Website:

Organizations that hire a large number of graduates each year do so in the midst of challenging times. Because the global economy has been stagnant for an extended period, the hiring pool for these entry-level positions has increased significantly, making it even more crucial for Human Resources practitioners to increase and retain the quality of talent they bring into their company.

Each year, Balfour Beatty Group, a leading global infrastructure organization based in London, hires about 100 university graduates into its UK businesses. Balfour Beatty recently changed its focus; instead of each business unit filling entry-level positions in its own area, the company now wants to hire people who are capable of working across different disciplines, sectors and geographies and who will thrive within the increasingly more integrated culture of the organization.

The challenge: pinpointing traits that lead to success
As a result of integrating its graduate recruitment to help ensure consistency, finding and attracting candidates who are more mobile within the company is essential for the long-term success of Balfour Beatty. However, finding these graduates is not easy. Individual business units were once independently responsible for hiring graduates, and the recruitment practices varied across the company.

“In the UK, Balfour Beatty is made up of very diverse businesses and we felt there was a need to establish a common framework in the recruitment of graduates so we could find people who are of a consistent level of skill and behavior,” said Richard Gartside, Human Resources Director at Balfour Beatty. “We also have a growing need for more mobility in the business and more coordination of graduate learning and development. There was also a need for the company to start promoting our broader Group brand among the graduates to leverage our diverse range of businesses and capabilities to new employees.”

Additionally, the volume of graduates applying for jobs at Balfour Beatty was putting a strain on its recruitment staff. Graduate positions at Balfour Beatty are highly sought after, and the candidate pool for each position is deep, forcing staff to spend a significant amount of time sorting through applicants.

To meet its business needs, Balfour Beatty partnered with Kenexa to focus recruitment on graduates who will have the biggest impact on business performance. By analyzing the company’s high performers, we discovered a strong link existed between certain personality traits in graduates and job performance. The company also needed an efficient way to reduce the candidate pool so the HR staff could quickly reject candidates that did not meet the criteria and spend more time focusing on quality candidates.

The solution: assessing personality
Balfour Beatty implemented our numerical, verbal and logical assess­ments into its hiring process for graduates to help ensure each new hire have a similar basic skill set. The organization also has graduate candidates who take a dynamic personality assessment, which they believe pinpoints behavioral preferences which are aligned to stronger performance. In addition, they were keen on referencing the Groups’s values (Integrity, Teamwork, Excellence and Respect) explicitly in the recruitment process.

“We are trying to move the emphasis in the application process away from just technical excellence alone,” Gartside said. “Now, technical excellence is increasingly a given that gets graduates through the front door. We are now looking to see how efficiently graduates can use and apply their technical skills in different environments and how well they collaborate with others, team members, customers and suppliers. We get a competitive advantage when our recruits can demonstrate the broader range of skills, knowledge and understanding that our customers require.”

Our Behavioral Assessments enable companies to find the right person for the right job, which leads to higher performance, increased engagement, quicker time-to-productivity and lower turnover.

We have more than 1,500 ready-to-use assessments, but takes a tailored approach to each customer depending on the distinct business challenges it faces. These assessments are based on a combination of science and a time-tested history of predicting performance through distinct methods and observations.

The results: hiring a more agile workforce
By using our dynamic personality assessment, Balfour Beatty was able to develop a robust profile of top candidates and hire graduates who would be able to adapt and thrive to the company’s distinct culture. In less than a year, Balfour Beatty has already benefited from attracting and hiring candidates who are more likely to succeed through its consistent approach to graduate recruiting across each of its UK business units.

“We wanted to make sure there was a strong cultural fit within our organization” Gartside said. “One of our key aims is to create more integrated teams across the business, so we make sure we recruit people who have a propensity to display the values and behaviors that we want to promote, like teamwork and respect. And in a very short period of time, you can already see our graduates are starting to feel more like a community.

The organization implemented a robust assessment center in which recruiters were property trained to help ensure the top talent was among the group of applicants who made it through the initial phase. Balfour Beatty reduced time-to-hire considerably through the use of assessments in the graduate recruitment process, saving the company resources and money.

The volume of candidates the HR staff now considers has been cut in half because the assessment tests are successfully pinpointing the kind of candidates Balfour Beatty desires.

About Kenexa, an IBM Company
To us, business has always been personal – and it has always been about helping to make the workforce smarter, which is why we are proud to be a platform for a Smarter Workforce. We look at it from two angles – empowering people and transforming business. Our tools help enable businesses to attract and keep the best people, develop their skills, cultivate new leaders and capitalize on their collective intelligence by applying human insights, social tools and workforce analytics to transform the way they work. We provide deep insight and experience in employee engagement, talent management and leadership develop­ment mixed with industry-leading technology and social platforms, giving us the unique ability to build a Smarter Workforce.

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM Kenexa Behavioral Assessments on Cloud for Professional and Managerial Roles

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