Electric Boat investing to recruit, train new employees
Groton — To successfully recruit and train future talent, Electric Boat has made a number of recent investments including the creation of eight new positions and the revamping of its training programs.
The company expects to reach a workforce of 18,000 by 2030 compared to the 14,000 workers it has now as a result of work on the Virginia-class submarine and the Ohio-class replacement programs.
A large number of employees are also expected to retire in the coming years. Company officials said in 2015 that on average, 263 employees had retired during each of the past five years. At this year's annual dinner for employees who've reached the 40-year-mark, 333 people are expected to attend.
EB is pleased with its retention rates, said Maura Dunn, EB's vice president of human resources, noting that less than 7 percent of employees across the company, including retirees, leave each year. Hiring, on the other hand, was taking too long, so EB worked to improve and speed up the process.
On average, the time between creating a job advertisement and making an offer was more than 150 days. The company has since cut that time in half, Dunn said.
EB participated in a series of events to streamline the hiring process. Company officials talked with other business units and "benchmarked" EB against Boeing and other commercial entities, Dunn said.
"We took ideas from all over the place," Dunn said.
Changes made by EB to reduce that 150-day window include reducing the number of approvals required to post a job advertisement; expanding the use of electronically screening résumés to more efficiently identify candidates who are more qualified; automating the process of notifying hiring managers of pre-qualified or screened candidates for them to review; reducing the time it takes to make an offer by training recruiting staff on salaries and allowing them to set salaries for new candidates; and automating the medical clearance and security processes.
The company has hired a director of staffing and recruiting, Patrick Reuss, one of about 50 directors across the company. Reuss oversees all aspects of the hiring process from candidate outreach to job offers and "onboarding candidates," Dunn said. He is also in charge of the company's summer intern program and is working to develop the training pipelines the company needs with partners such as the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board.
With 15 to 18 percent of EB's workforce being veterans, the company has hired a veterans' coordinator, a new position.
"There's natural opportunity to expand that outreach," Dunn said of the company's veteran population, especially since EB employees are "producing products that ultimately benefit our country's Navy."
The veterans' coordinator is working with veterans' affairs representatives in various congressional offices, officials with the military's Transition Assistance Program, and student veterans' organizations.
The company has also added a new university and college relations position to handle outreach in those areas, and hired several recruiters—bringing the total number of recruiters to 22—who will do "the day-to-day lifting of trying to find new employees for us," Dunn said.
Not all of the outreach will be done on a person-to-person basis. The company is working with a consultant "to freshen our employment branding," Dunn said, including its web presence and expand its social media outreach.
"Frankly, we've had to become savvier on how to use those tools within our environment," she said.
Prospective employees can find jobs on EB's website. The company plans to create a Facebook recruitment page and has used LinkedIn "a little bit," to find people, Dunn said. Advertisements for EB jobs can be heard on several radio stations throughout much of the state, according to a coverage map provided by the office of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.
The company's name recognition in the region has been a tremendous advantage for getting large numbers of applicants. About 35 percent of the company's applicants are referrals from current employees.
"We have plenty of applicants but always want more," Dunn said. She particularly listed the procurement field as needing more applicants, and she said the company is always looking for experienced trades workers particularly pipefitters and welders. Currently, the company is in need of inside and outside machinists.