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Don’t outsource the problem – how to use RPOs

dont outsource the problemGreg Allen, Global Head of Resourcing for Lloyds Register, gave a presentation at the ResourceBank sponsored Innovation in Recruitment summit in September 2013 outlining how he works with RPOs to meet the developing needs of his business.

Don’t outsource the problem

“Don’t outsource the problem” was the first piece of advice provided by Allen to the audience of HR/Resourcing directors and managers.  You need to take a holistic view of your business, your needs, key issues and processes and decide, with other stakeholders, how best to solve each one.  When Allen joined Nokia, there was a perception that the incumbent RPO was not delivering on key technical positions.  Allen re-drew the recruitment process, trained the line managers, delivered broader channels to market and set tight KIP’s to the RPO and saw the numbers of successful hires increase by 10 fold in the next 6 months, saving over £1 million in the first year.

Involve all key parties

Allen gave the example of an RPO contract which was put in place by procurement and finance.  Prior to the RPO they were dealing with 200 separate recruitment suppliers – processing multiple contracts and invoices.  The single source RPO solution which they implemented solved their back office issues, but had not considered the business critical recruitment relationships maintained by niche business areas and HR.  The whole process needed to be re-engineered causing significant strains within the business – which could have been avoided if corporate services had made the business units aware of their decisions and worked together to create the solution.

Big is not better – projects are

Allen’s experience has led him to avoid very large RPO contracts, and instead outsource specific projects under tailored terms which reflect the needs of that project to partners with the most appropriate skills.  Allen has successfully operated with five concurrent RPO contracts to reflect the specific needs of individual skills/projects within his business.   This project-related outsourcing gives more opportunities for trialling new methods, new suppliers and encourages performance and innovation.

It’s not about cost

Many businesses and RPOs make a fundamental mistake of believing that cost is the key factor in managing the recruitment process.  For any business, the quality of candidates recruited will have a bigger impact on the profitability of the organisation than the price of the RPO.  Recruitment cost is not an issue at Lloyds Register, whose focus is all about recruiting the best candidates in the market.  Recruitment effectiveness is measured on the number and quality of candidates recruited, whether they pass probation, whether they stay long term and ultimately whether they perform and are promoted to higher roles.  The profit that these individuals will generate for the business far outweighs any savings to be made in recruitment cost.

Strategic partners, not slaves

Allen believes in treating RPOs as a strategic partner – keeping them informed of the business’ future strategy and asking them to bring ideas and solutions that could help move the business forward.  Markets change and business requirements change, but the RPO will have a better view on what is happening within the candidate market place.  Encourage your RPO to keep an eye to the future and ensure that they propose ways of keeping your employer brand ahead of your competitors.

Don’t be afraid to try out new ideas

There is a temptation for businesses to stay within the safety net of standard operating procedures because its what their business has always done.  In one area of the Lloyds register business, the vast majority of candidates were rejected prior to/after interview.  Line Managers were looking for a high level of qualification and experience as that is what had always traditionally been required for the role.    Allen instigated a change to the process, removing managers from the interview process and introducing a “no notice period in month one”.  This got the candidates into the business allowing them to demonstrate their abilities to managers in a work setting.  Alternatively, managers could earn a “Licence to Hire” – by undertaking training in interviewing and candidate care – and then they could be involved in the recruitment process.

Embrace tools and technologies

While traditional recruitment techniques can never be replaced by technology, Allen was a big supporter of client and RPO working together to adopt tools and technologies that improve the recruitment process and talent attraction strategy.  He encouraged the adoption of social media (in particular LinkedIn), video interviewing, passive candidate pools, CRM systems and competitor tracking.  Empower your RPO to develop and maximise these tools so the best candidates can be identified for the business.

Allen’s key tips prompted much discussion amongst the audience of HR Directors and Managers.  At the wrap up session, several agreed that they would look at adopting many of Allen’s ideas, in particular the use of RPO s for specific projects and the introduction of a “Licence to Hire” for line managers.

Greg Allen is an experienced recruitment professional, having worked in the industry since the early 1990s, initially for recruitment agencies, then for an RPO and finally moving in-house and working for leading employers including Symbian Software, Nokia and Lloyd’s Register Group.  Nominated as Recruiter of the Year in 2011, Greg has significant expertise in working with a number of recruitment partners to develop innovative solutions that deliver results for the employer organisation.

To discuss how you could implement an RPO using Greg’s methods, contact Melody Hermon, Client Services Director for ResourceBank by email or phone 01952 281900