First HireReach Cohort Leads Way to Better Hiring Practices

Hiring decisions are among the most important any employer makes. Unfortunately, hiring choices can be influ­enced by bias and other variables unrelated to job skills.However, decision-making can be enhanced by using a disciplined process, accurate tools, and relevant data.



That is what is being provided by HireReach, a three-year initiative and collaboration between Talent 2025 and West Michigan Works! Based on an evidence-based selection process developed at Mercy Health, HireReach is well under way with its first cohort of West Michigan employers.


Employers representing 40,000 workers

Cohort 1 kicked off in January with an impressive group of employers, including Bar Fly Ventures, Cascade Engineering, City of Grand Rapids, Davenport University, Kent County, Ottawa County, Shape Corp., Spectrum Health, Steelcase, and Warner, Norcross and Judd. Collectively these employers represent six industry sectors, representing more than 40,000 employees.

Cohort 1 employers participate in a monthly Community of Practice (CoP) and receive monthly on-site consulting meetings. During the CoP, human resource leaders receive technical training, participate in interactive learning and development activities, learn from subject matter experts, and engage in peer to peer learning. 

For example, the topic for the April session was alignment of talent acquisition functions: “This session supports employers in determining changes necessary for talent acquisition staffing, KPIs, policies, and procedures to align with their evidence-based selection process.” Materials from this session and others can be viewed on the Community of Practice page of the HireReach website.

During the consulting meetings, employers have confidential conversations to assist with gaining stakeholder buy-in and improving their unique talent acquisition process. The Urban League of West Michigan has been engaged as the diversity and inclusion subject matter expert to deliver customized employer training. Jim Sharf, Director & Chief Industrial Psychologist, Metrics Reporting Inc. and CEO of Sharf & Assoc., Employment Risk Advisors Inc., has been engaged as the legal defensibility expert.


Proof is in the results

Mercy Health imple­mented this evidence-based selection process in 2010 to im­prove talent acquisition. The process evaluated candi­dates holistically, targeting skills relevant to each job and reducing the potential for unconscious bias. After hiring more than 10,000 candi­dates using the process over the past eight years, Mercy Health reports:

  • First-year turnover dropped 23% for those hired using the strategy
  • The amount of time it took to hire a candi­date dropped 16%
  • The diversity of the workforce more than doubled

Watch for more news about HireReach, including an informational session in September for employers interested in joining the second cohort.

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