MGM’s Ace in the Hole for Bringing Former Employees Back to Work

Jenn Thomas

The past year has been tough on businesses and employees across the board—with those in the hospitality and entertainment industries taking a direct hit. 
 

Despite the setbacks, one renowned entertainment leader rose to the occasion and managed to come out on top. MGM Resorts International, famous for its suite of Vegas-inspired brands, was recently recognized by Forbes as one of the most admired companies in the world
 

Given how they've supported their people and their workplaces through challenges presented by the pandemic, it’s easy to see why.
 

Randy Goldberg, VP of Talent Acquisition Strategy at MGM, joined our IAMHR virtual conference to provide a firsthand look at how his team is using HR tech to keep former and furloughed employees informed, connected, and equipped with essential resources to get them back to work as quickly and efficiently as possible.
 

Learn how Goldberg is beating the odds with an alumni portal and dynamic campaigns — resulting in a win-win that’s benefiting employees and the iconic organization. 
 

Maintaining the Flow of Communication 
 

What happens when the largest employer in Nevada shuts down? Pre-pandemic, it took more than 81,000 employees to support MGM’s operations. The company encompasses far more than the flagship MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Goldberg explained. For context, “We are the largest multi-concept, non-chain operators in the U.S.,” he noted. 
 

So when government-ordered lockdowns required MGM to close all of its properties almost a year ago, the impact was huge. Vast numbers of employees were furloughed or laid off, and all open job roles were paused, he recounted. 
 

As luck would have it, MGM had just implemented Phenom’s Talent Experience Management (TXM) platform in February 2020. After the initial step of reaching out to all current job candidates, Goldberg put Phenom’s Talent Recovery tools into action to support separating employees with transparent, detailed communication. 
 


Here’s a quick overview of how he did it: 
 

  • A talent community was created and linked to the MGM career site. 

  • Immediate career site updates were made, adding Covid-19 information to the site’s top banner and to their chatbot’s FAQs. 

  • Targeted email campaigns and a monthly newsletter to their talent community were launched to keep all talent pools updated.

  • A convenient (and turns out essentialalumni portal was created to give newly laid-off employees fast access to crucial information and resources. The portal also links to area employers in need of extra staff, such as supermarkets, who partnered with MGM to temporarily hire furloughed employees. 
     

“These are not just just links to their general career site,” Goldberg clarified. “These are tagged and sourced links, so that these companies know that they're MGM employees coming in...to expedite the process and move them forward as quickly as they possibly can.”
 

Goldberg’s focus on communication can’t be overstated. “Think about all the information that a recently furloughed employee wants to know about,” Goldberg said. “How do I process unemployment? How do I get a letter stating that I worked at MGM during this time period? How does it affect my benefits? What other resources and support through the company’s employee assistance program is available?
 

"The whole idea was to keep communication to them flowing — and to make sure they had the tools and resources they needed to move forward and get the questions they had answered. The most important thing was taking care of our employees so they could take care of themselves and their families,” Goldberg said. 
 


Using an Alumni Portal To Get Former Employees Back To Work
 

As MGM properties slowly began reopening in June, the focus shifted to reinstating — and reassigning — employees. Interestingly, the pandemic created new roles to fill, revealed Goldberg, such as contact tracing specialists and health and safety ambassadors.
 

MGM first tapped employees still on furlough for these opportunities. We were able to load all those furloughed employees into the Phenom CRM, then start targeting and communicating these very specific job opportunities to that group first, Goldberg explained. 
 

This was a win for everyone — employees could return to work quickly, and MGM could save time by skipping typical pre-employment steps. 
 


As circumstances evolved throughout the summer, MGM quickly rolled out a robust slate of tools and resources for their alumni community, with a dedicated Alumni Portal at the center of their offerings. “We thought it was a great opportunity to give our alumni a little bit of a different experience in terms of looking for jobs at MGM and some additional resources,” said Goldberg.
 

Through the portal, MGM alumni can:
 

  • Search for new job opportunities

  • Access information on benefits, upskilling, and unemployment resources 

  • Link to employment resources and view employment partners

  • Sign up for the MGM LinkedIn group

  • Create their own profile with resume and job preferences, sign up for job alerts, review applications in process, and make referrals 
     



Related Content — Get ahead of hiring by growing a thriving alumni community with The Preparing for Talent Recovery Playbook



Campaigning to Secure Alumni Engagement, Referrals & Jobs
 

Educating alumni about the portal and any open jobs was a critical next step. “One of the things we’ve found most effective with what we’re doing was that the Phenom platform really allowed us to push out information,” Goldberg said. “We started an email campaign to everyone that recently separated, letting them know about the new tool and the advantages of using the new alumni portal,” he explained.
 

Campaigns informed alumni about all the employment resources available at their fingertips, including:
 


 


Even as some roles began opening back up, filling them was challenging, Goldberg shared. Many employees weren’t ready to return to work due to concerns about exposure to Covid-19. In high demand for MGM at the time? Casino dealers and security workers. 
 

Through the Phenom platform, however, the team could advertise positions directly to best-fit local alumni, whose profiles and job preferences were already loaded into the system. “There was no better audience to go after than our own employees,” he said. 
 

Campaigns have also been instrumental in having MGM alumni refer friends and family members for positions. Not only do they make talent acquisition’s job easier, Goldberg revealed, campaigns keep alumni connected to their employer brand. "They feel good about MGM, so they're referring other people to the company.”
 

Providing Live Alumni Support With Virtual Events
 

MGM is also supporting alumni by hosting monthly virtual seminars to explore timely topics like LinkedIn tips and benefits Q&A.  
 

It’s another effort made seamless with Phenom’s capabilities and Microsoft Teams integration, mentioned Goldberg. Through Phenom Events, the team can post events to the alumni portal, manage registration, and promote events through emails.
 


The live events always draw messages of thanks from attendees, and Goldberg encourages trying them. “They’ve been very popular and we’re continuing to do these monthly,” he noted. 
 

Numbers that Reflect Alumni Loyalty
 

Goldberg is thrilled with the results so far. “It's been just an unbelievable resource,” he said. “Not only has this been very effective in communicating with our employees, but we know there’s going to be a lot of great future possibilities for us as well.”
 

His narrative is underscored by numbers that support the positive impact of the alumni community MGM has built:
 

  • 33,000 visits 90 days after go-live (and increasing every month)

  • 900 internal applications

  • 99.38% apply conversion rate

  • 17,623 profiles added to CRM

  • 423 new positions filled by alumni
     


“If you make sure that as your employees are separating from you, they feel like they’ve had a good, positive experience, they’ll want to stay connected,” Goldberg said.
 

And the numbers prove it. It’s no wonder MGM is one of the most admired companies in the world. They're certainly one of mine.
 


Looking for more talent recovery ideas? Check out Randy Goldberg's entire IAMHR presentation!