All Onboard! New Approaches to Hiring and Developing in a Remote World

Peer Practices
Written by Linda Luty

Kim Sullivan

Senior Vice President and Global Chief People Officer


Starting a new job in the middle of a global pandemic is a unique experience, one that most organizations were not fully prepared to support. However, Concentrix, a global, technology-enabled customer-experience solutions company, which improves business performance for some of the world’s best brands, was in a far better position that most having already had a program in place to support a workforce of more than 225,000 staff across 41 countries. 

Kim Sullivan, global chief people officer at Concentrix, started one week before a significant number of employees needed to transition to work from home immediately due to COVID-19. Concentrix’ foundation and Sullivan’s experience working for large organizations with distributed workforces served her well as she was simultaneously onboarded and began to enhance the company’s HR strategy during a time of crisis.

“I never would have thought that I would have to build a strategy without bringing my team physically together. We've talked about the future of work, but COVID-19 has hastened the pace at which we must build different capabilities around the future of work,” said Sullivan. 

The Challenge: Onboarding and Maintaining Culture Remotely

Clear and consistent communication is key in establishing positive employee experience and maintaining organizational culture, especially when most of the workforce is remote and navigating life amidst disruption. Part of Concentrix’s strategy for onboarding includes communicating the company’s culture during the interview stage and further reinforcing it once a candidate accepts a position.

“We work diligently to maintain our culture of being fanatical about our clients and staff. We value knowledge, openness and transparency and always operate within our philosophy of our 3V’s: visibility, velocity and value. We’ve experienced tremendous growth organically and through strategic acquisition. Regardless of how a person joins our Concentrix family, we immediately join together and move forward as One Concentrix,” said Sullivan.

“We take our Concentrix culture seriously. Providing clear guidance through our onboarding process is essential for transmitting our values and setting our staff up for success right from the start. “We make sure our team has all the tools, processes, and support they need to be able to work, starting on day 1. It doesn’t matter if we're hiring one person or one thousand people, we want them to have a great experience as they onboard to Concentrix,” reflected Sullivan.

1. Build Partnerships Through Listening

Given Sullivan’s immediate shift to remote work in her new leadership role, connecting virtually with her colleagues and team members was an absolute necessity. Many organizations have learned how much information is transmitted through “water-cooler conversations” and impromptu, in-person interaction. While virtual touchpoints and meetings can’t totally replace these elements, consistent execution and a disciplined approach to remote collaboration ensure these connections don’t fall entirely by the wayside.

“I'm using the partnership, collaboration and feedback I receive to validate our people-solution strategic priorities. I may see things a certain way, but if you ask the same questions of an employee working on a site or an agent who is on the front lines and closest to the customer, you get a totally different response,” said Sullivan.

Staying connected to staff, clients and customers has never been more important than today in these ever-changing, dynamic times. Consumers are driving change faster than clients can keep up with. Staff needs are changing at an equally rapid pace. It’s critical that as a people-solutions function we continually listen, evolve strategies and ultimately solve problems for all our staff and customers’ needs, said Sullivan.  

While connecting virtually does require more up-front planning and coordinating calendars than organic interactions, many organizations have found success by consistently prioritizing connections across the organization. Since joining Concentrix, Sullivan launched a 100 Conversations in 100 Days Listening Tour as part of her own onboarding strategy. Select staff from varying levels are invited to meet Kim virtually in a small group and share their Concentrix story.   

Reflecting on the value of listening, Sullivan said, “I've learned a few things over the years working in HR: focus on quality outcomes and impact over quantity. Sometimes we are just trying to get new initiatives or projects rolled out, versus taking a step back and ensuring that it is employee or customer-centric.”

One of the things I've said to my team in my current role is that we don't build anything until we've solicited feedback and can get our hourly staff's feedback, because they're closest to the customer. We want to make sure we're focusing on our employees and customers.


2. Leverage Existing Technology

While technology solutions were previously in place for many organizations, the usage and expertise in these programs have dramatically increased as businesses were forced to pivot their interviewing and onboarding processes.

“While many of our non-regional staff are used to interviewing and going through the process using technology, we have many beautiful sites that are focused on engagement, communication and bringing people together. But when we had to move people to work at home, we had to pivot to use more technology and start interviewing some of our agents and different positions as part of the work. We had to use a different process, and it made us pause and reevaluate. But we didn't pause for too long, we worked quickly and started using all of the tools that are available to us,” said Sullivan.

Using the latest technology-infused solutions like Bots, AI enabled virtual assessments and digital identity verification paired with video interviewing, virtual training and digitizing documents ensures Concentrix has an end-to-end hiring solution that is secure, virtual and technology enabled. 

3. Evaluate Operating Models Given the Future of Work

Successful businesses have many things in common, but none is more central than a talented and dedicated workforce. For many, the pre-pandemic norm was in-office work that sourced talent locally. With many organizations learning what is possible after nearly all of their workforce started working remotely, the options for remote recruiting are expanding the talent pool.

“We are assessing and evaluating our operating model going forward. There are positions that would have been on a site, but we have decided and realized that we can deliver the same level of support and service to our clients, whether they are internal or external, and the work can be performed remotely. Another benefit of allowing jobs to be performed remotely is that you get an opportunity to tap into truly the best talent around the world because you're not inhibited by location,” said Sullivan.

No longer limited by geography, many organizations are reevaluating the need for staff in office, corporate real estate needs and training protocols. This shift, done out of necessity, will change the way work is performed in many industries. Just recently Concentrix released SecureCX, their advanced biometrics solution for a secure work-at-home environment supported by centralized 24x7 monitoring. SecureCX ensures the same level of security for their clients and their customers as an on-premise office environment.


Whether starting a new position in the midst of a pandemic or finding that the corporate strategy needs to significantly realign, successful leaders find support both internally and externally. Leveraging connections and listening to frontline employees is a powerful way to get the pulse of your organization’s needs.

“I have created great partnerships with the staff at Concentrix and have a strong network of people from my past that includes people at Evanta and other CHROs, who have all been helpful and have positively influenced my success. I believe in the power of networking because it’s been proven that tapping into my network has truly helped me to be successful,” said Sullivan.


Special thanks to Kim Sullivan and Concentrix.

by CHROs, for CHROs


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