Helping Humanforce go full force on growth

When workforce giant, Humanforce, needed to increase their hiring and talent function fast they chose Lab17 as their Talent Acquisition Partner.


Humanforce recently acquired 3 news businesses and hit rapid growth. 


We’re talking, an increase in platform users to almost 700,000 workers-strong kind of growth.


We know that fast growth really tests a business, but instead of succumbing to whiplash, the team buckled in and got on with the job – with a little help from Lab17.


Chief People Officer for Humanforce, Holly Barnes told us why they chose to partner with Lab17.


Humanforce’s talent acquisition partner of choice

Holly said that, prior to the acquisition of the new businesses, Humanforce didn’t have a strong focus on HR or talent acquisition.

“Bringing 3 businesses together is very complex,” Holly told us. “We had a lot of BAU [(business as usual)] activity from the acquisitions, plus our general, organic growth. 

Humanforce needed help from the right partner to rapidly fill the key positions all this growth created.

“We’re in a scale-up phase. It’s a very growth-driven time for us that needs particular focus,” Holly reflects.

“Outsourcing and partnering with Lab17 helped us manage the influx of roles. It also created the capacity to move from reactive talent acquisition to a more proactive space.”

For Humanforce it was about finding a talent acquisition partner that could achieve success in two key areas:

Short term: Driving the rapid recruitment process and filling open roles

Long term: Building good talent acquisition systems for the future.

Enter Lab17.

The tipping point that made Humanforce leap

At the time Humanforce first partnered with Lab17, they were recruiting for 15 key roles that needed to be filled very quickly.

Their in-house talent acquisition team was also very limited at this stage.

“Our focus with Lab17 was twofold,” said Holly. “Not only from the tactical point in hiring, but also looking at how we can improve the way we operate talent acquisition within the organisation.”

For Holly, getting Lab17 embedded in their team was a game changer. 

“Having two super experienced people come on board who could dovetail into the current processes and just get things moving was really beneficial,” she reflected.

How it changed the game for Humanforce

As part of Lab17’s embedded model, two of our Labonauts joined the Humanforce team, in-house.

“The Lab17 came in and learned the business really quickly,” Holly told us. “They created strong relationships with key stakeholders and we saw action on our open headcount really quickly.”

Holly also made mention of the strategic lens our Labonauts brought to the table, taking care of things like:

  • – Recognising gaps in hiring manager capability
  • – Hiring manager training
  • – Sprint planning
  • – Levelling up employer branding

“Having Lab17 on board also gave us the opportunity to sit down and think about why someone would want to join Humanforce,” said Holly,

“And actually capture that in a solid pitch that we could use to show candidates how Humanforce is a great place to work.” 

Identifying opportunities for efficacy and efficiency

Holly also identified that having Lab17 as an embedded talent acquisition partner helped them identify significant opportunities they were missing. 

“Our approach was basically, we’d have a role that needed filling, we’d put up an advert, and we’d hoped the right people would apply.”

With Lab17’s help, Humanforce moved from being reactive, to being proactive and strategic with their talent planning. 

“We started using LinkedIn to do market mapping. We did lots of outreach. We really looked at where to put our focus in terms of the type of people that come into the organisation.”

The Labonauts also helped Humanforce refresh their job briefs and ask the critical questions about what the organisation actually needed, including:

What are Humanforce’s candidate personas?

What are the experiences and capabilities of the people the organisation needs?

How can we be better so that people from diverse backgrounds will want to join us?

This informed Humanforce’s strategic outreach moving forward.

A marathon made up of sprints

The other big piece of the puzzle Lab17 brought to the table was sprint planning.

“Humanforce went from five to 25 open roles at once… and the reality is that we are not going to have great traction if we’re out there taking a scattergun approach,” she told us.

“So prioritisation was key… Understanding the critical roles that are going to make an impact – and which ones can be parked for now.”

Reporting became really important alongside planning. 

“The Lab17 created WIP documents to give hiring managers an overview of what had been done and what was going to be happening each week. 

“So we were able to really unpack where we were doing well in terms of our efforts and were able to extrapolate that out as well.”

How having a talent acquisition partner changed Humanforce for good

As part of our post-partnership review, Holly told us how Humanforce has changed and progressed since having Lab17 on board.

She had a lot of nice things to say.

“Thinking back to October last year, we are miles ahead,” she said.

“It’s been really positive. The Lab17 filled our roles in budget and in time, and we were able to spin up these new teams really quickly.

“We’ve got really solid processes in place. We’ve been able to do a lot more work in terms of proactive recruitment and talent pipelining, as well as reporting.

“We’ve seen a real shift in hiring manager capability as well. Before, recruitment efforts were seen as secondary to BAU activity. Now they see the importance of spending time during the acquisition process to find the next great person. They understand that the investment in time now is going to be positive for them in the future. 

A Chief People Officer’s personal reflections

The experience got Holly to reflect on the concept of biases in talent acquisition.

“As a team we never actually discussed what that looks like and how our own personal views would play into it. 

“Now we reflect on the diversity of our talent pools. We consider how to fill the gaps rather than finding more of the same people. 

“We’re moving away from ‘cultural fit’ to ‘cultural contribution’. 

And for Holly, this has been nothing but positive.

“You don’t want everyone to fit. You want some diversity in thought and experience in order to evolve your team.”

Holly told us she also really enjoyed working with the Labonauts.

“I appreciated how flexible The Lab17 were, she reflects. “We worked really closely and we tweaked processes and ways of working.

“It wasn’t: ‘We’ve got this way of working at Lab17.’; it was, ‘This is what we see as best practice. Let’s see how we can amalgamate that with how you do things so that it fits with your organisation.’ 

“Working with Lab17 never felt like trying to push a square peg through a round hole. We were a really well-oiled machine by the end.”

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