Every year, Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) hires approximately 1,500 staff to support, run, and maintain the City of Denver’s over 200 City parks, 30 recreation centers, 30 swimming pools, 10 dog parks, 22 mountain parks, and 7 golf courses. While the DPR staff does an amazing job managing some of the best spaces and facilities Denver has to offer, it’s the work of another team behind the scenes that helps prepare DPR for the substantial workload that comes with each season.

The DPR Talent Acquisition Team (DPR TA Team), consisting of Nedra D., Zach O., Amy S., Laura A., Kayla I., Kaliah W., and led by Amy J., is tasked with supporting DPR in the recruiting and hiring of these 1,500 positions – not an easy task considering 80% of these hires happen between February and June. Over the last year, the team has worked tirelessly through a series of rapid improvement events and process improvement efforts, led by Peak Academy Black Belt and agency facilitator, Jordan D., to ensure they’re providing the absolute best service for their clients. And their works not done!

To ensure a successful overhaul to the DPR recruiting and hiring process, the team broke their effort into three distinct phases. Phase 1 focused on restructuring the recruiting team and defining role responsibilities, expectations, and accountability. Phase 2, which is still in process, has focused on developing a recruiting strategy that listens to and prioritizes the needs of their DPR client. Phase 3, which is slated for late 2020 and early 2021, will focus on aligning hiring strategies with the functionality of the City’s hiring system, Workday.

The most important, and often most overlooked, aspect of process improvement is collecting and utilizing the voice of the customer. The DPR TA Team put the voice of the customer and client engagement at the forefront of their effort. Early on, members of the team began attending DPR operations meetings, hosting 1-on-1 strategy meetings with hiring managers, and established a manager advisory council. These efforts helped the DPR TA team to better understand the unique needs and specific challenges their client faces and allowed them to bring pointed, relevant information back to the entire team where they could develop solutions to address DPR’s needs and challenges.

Denver Golf marketing flyer recruiting players to "Work where you play!" for seasonal on-call positions with Denver Golf.

Phase 1 included a variety of improvements that set the stage for future phases. For starters, the DPR TA Team expanded from two to five total staff to better address the high-volume hiring needs of DPR. This allowed the team to clean up nearly 100 old job requisitions and over 500 old candidate applications. Additionally, the team began submitting job offers daily to the onboarding team to put hiring manager’s minds at ease knowing their offers were being extended in a timely manner. The team also began referring applications to hiring managers on a standard Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule, which allowed hiring managers to prioritize their own schedules and optimize their time spent engaging in the hiring process. Finally, to ensure a wider pool of applicants, the DPR TA Team established a widespread targeted marketing and social media campaign as well as other creative ways of sourcing to recruit candidates for the wide variety of positions available within DPR.

Through 2020, the DPR TA Teams Phase 2 began and has focused on developing a recruitment strategy that includes meeting with hiring managers to discuss workforce planning which allows the recruiting team to be more proactive to the needs of DPR. Based on previous recruitment forecasting and client feedback, the team developed calendars for monthly hiring events which were shared with DPR to provide more clarity and transparency around the process Improvements were also made to the hiring events themselves which saved a total of 24 hours of staff time per event. OHR also invested in technology needed to make these events streamlined and a success to meet the client and candidates in the community. Additionally, the DPR TA Team’s recruiting coordinators developed a process for seasonal employee offboarding which allowed the team to stay connected with seasonal employees in the off season. In doing so, the team aimed to increase the likelihood that seasonal employees would return the following season which cut down on the need to recruit new individuals. For the 2020 season, the DPR TA Team was able to reach their time to fill goal of 25 days through the elimination of bottlenecks and improvements to the recruitment process. One specific improvement was taking over some specific tasks previously performed by the hiring manager that were often delayed due to how busy hiring managers were in running their operations.

While Phase 3 is still on the horizon, the DPR TA Team plans to focus on efforts to improve workflows and better utilize the functionality of the cities hiring system, Workday. These changes include one candidate list for multiple managers, mass actions of rehires, offers, and job requisitions, and streamlining the offer review process.

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, improvements to hiring events have been put on hold, though this hasn’t stopped the DPR TA Team or fractured their resolve. They’ve used this opportunity to further explore opportunities to improve their process including the exploration of virtual interviews, hiring events, and career fairs with the goal of reaching more potential candidates through those avenues. They also plan to use text messaging which will allow them to communicate with candidates through another avenue to create a more efficient and personal experience.

The hard work of the DPR TA Team is already showing success with only more improvements to come. One DPR hiring manager said “Thanks for everything you and your entire team do for us! I’ve been with the city now for over 22 years and you have made the hiring process MUCH easier than in years past and we all appreciate it!” Another said, “Every recruiter I’ve worked with has been excellent and somehow managed to make me feel like I’m the only hiring manager they are working with (despite the ridiculous workload you all have).” When innovation is customer focused, great things happen!

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