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The future of RPO

Outsource Magazine

13 November 2014


PA’s Carol Haag, HR sourcing expert, shares her views on Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) as part of a video round table with Outsource magazine. The round table discussion – which looks at how RPO is evolving at a fast pace – focuses on four key areas which are driving the change - new technology, new applicant behaviours, new partnership models and the increasing depth of capability exhibited by the leading suppliers in the space. 

Each of these key trends and the role they play in RPO today and the future are discussed with other participants from Futurestep, Wilson HCG and ADP.

New technology is causing a recruitment revolution. Carol discusses whether RPOs are able to differentiate themselves on technology platforms. She explains:

“They can’t differentiate but they have to be at the head of the game to be in the market. Something we hear from our clients is, ‘have they got the basic service levels right’. There is a big curve around where the client can be on that maturity, between ‘we want the basic service’ and ‘we want the high technology solution’.

“We have to educate our clients and get them to be more aware of what’s out there. For the millennials it’s an easy answer as they can see what’s out there, however, for the more senior executive hires, they may not be in the same space with technology and it may be a different proposition for them.

“In terms of the candidate experience – going back to the education that we have to have between client and RPO provider – it’s about making sure they understand what they are getting in terms of the technology and that they do maintain that customer experience for the new person they are trying to hire. Otherwise it could end up being a very robotic experience and it’s important that we don’t lose customer experience. Even for the fast hires, in retail for example, we still need engagement with the employer.”

With new behaviours being seen in the RPO environment, Carol explains how she sees the role evolving for RPOs as the war for talent increases over the years:

“I think they are playing an increasingly important role. With our clients, we are always talking about talent – it’s always at the top of their agenda. Clients are keen to know how they can brand themselves and how to reach the right people. Often just trying to identify who the right people are can be a challenge – are they looking for ‘generation X’ or millennials. There is a case of the same organisation having a different brand for different people.

“Often what happens is that the brand that they go out to the market with for attracting talent is slightly different to the brand that you see when you look at the company itself. It’s because, for example, they are very interested in the green agenda. The millennials, in particular, are interested in whether there are days that they can use to “give back” to the community. 

“Behaviours are changing and our clients really appreciate the help they get from RPO providers who have the greater breadth of technology that they can apply.”

Carol discusses the changes she sees as the supplier and RPO relationship market matures: 

“The clients who have had a longer standing relationship with their RPO provider have a much more healthy relationship. They can see them as a leader in technology and how they attract the talent and work in partnership. Growing relationships are the ones where it’s a first time relationship and procurement get heavily involved. The relationship is therefore driven more by cost than by partnership and that’s when the partnership isn't such a good one.

“In our advisory capacity we try to help the procurement teams to stake a step back and bring in the HR leaders – the people who are going to be driving the recruitment process – to take more of a leading part in understanding what the relationship should be and how they want it to deliver.

“Overall, the relationship manager for the RPO should ideally not be from procurement. It should be someone who knows what it means to manage a relationship and that’s a very special skill. They should really have the background and be grounded in HR and the recruitment process.”

Carol concludes by explaining what she thinks are going to be the key trends for providers and buyers of PRO in the future:

“The RPO industry is a very interesting one because I see it as a very mature market. Clients are looking to see how to take their contracts further that will help them extend their reach in RPO. We are seeing increasing globalisation, with more clients looking for a global approach. The global approach to managing outsourcing contracts needs to be brought in line with RPO. We are also seeing standard process. One way to do that is to have a single contract with a single provider that can help them in all geographies.

“One of the other trends we are seeing is the increase and use of technology. The most exciting part of that technology – as there is a broad scope of technology in RPO – is the front line technology. How do we attract candidates and how are we using social media, cloud and software-as-a-service based technologies to improve the cost base and the experience for the customer and for the recruitee.

“We are seeing more predictive analytics being brought in to play. It’s a bit of a buzz word amongst clients. I know that the providers are out there and thinking about how they can bring that in and deliver on it. We hear a lot about it but I don’t think we are seeing the outcomes yet, however it is coming through.

“The other trend is being a strategic partner for the talent acquisition. Talent is the big word out there at the moment. The more that the vendors and RPO partners can help with that strategic talent approach and embed themselves within the organisation to deliver on the brand and on the talent requirement, is going to make great strides for the organisations.”




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