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Dispelling the myths of RPO

By Oli Meager, Sales & Solutions Manager, Capita Resourcing

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) has come a long way. Gone are the days of merely streamlining PSLs or responding to adhoc hiring needs. We are now witnessing a more mature industry that incorporates multi-layered and aligned metrics, sophisticated models and technological advancements.

However, while the industry itself seems to be more on the same page about what constitutes good RPO is in fact the opposite true for our clients? With developments in RPO models, is the enhanced capability actually increasing anxiety, leaving people unsure as to what they are signing up to?

With this in mind, I wanted to set the record straight on some common concerns that may be preventing you from considering it as a plausible option for your business.

Myth 1 - With RPO, you have to sacrifice quality at the expense of cost
RPO undoubtedly improves cost efficiencies. In fact data from the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association (RPOA) states that RPO has been proven to reduce costs by 15 to 40 per cent on average for companies of all sizes - but this is by no means the whole story.

RPO is not a cheap solution and cost savings are realised as a result of an improvement to recruitment processes, which not only can save you money but improve time-to-hire and the candidate experience for prospective talent. You also cant put a price on the time you get back to focus on higher priority business activities, knowing your recruitment is in hand.

However, RPO has progressed from traditional metrics such as cost and time-per-hire to focus more closely on the quality of that selection whether a candidate is the right cultural fit for your organisation and whether they share the same vision and values this leads to greater retention and identification of the talented individuals who can really make a difference to the performance of your business.

Not only does hiring the wrong people cost you money in wasted resources, but aligning talent acquisition with business strategy is imperative to drive organisational change and allow HR to demonstrate their value to the broader organisation.

Myth 2 - The client retains no control with RPO
Think of RPO as a sweet shop. A common misconception is that when an RPO provider gets involved that they take over all aspects of operation, but the truth is you can literally pick-and-mix the solution you need to achieve your specific business objectives.

From bringing in a provider to run the full process, to support with a challenging exec hire or to provide additional support to an in-house team during peak times, RPO can provide the flexibility where you need it most while mitigating all of the risk. On a one-off project basis, the client dictates the terms and factors be that specific job skills or geographic requirements and often a one-off campaign can allow you to see whether RPO works for your organisation on a small scale before any larger commitment.

The important thing to remember is in order for RPO to work at its best the relationship between client and provider needs to be transparent and collaborative, with each party learning from the other. Rather than taking a step back, I would encourage my clients to challenge the team on what they want to achieve as in my experience, a strong client-supplier relationship is the key driver to success.

Myth 3 - RPO providers struggle to understand the culture of the organisation they are working with

As previously discussed, RPO is more than just bums on seats. Today quality of hire is measured by linking metrics to actual performance in post, and improved metrics around attrition and hiring manager satisfaction means it is essential that RPO teams fully understand the business and identify the skills needed to find the right talent first time.

The age-old argument is that an external provider will always struggle with thisand I agree. This is why RPO teams should fully embed themselves as an extension to the HR department, rather than just additional headcount. Excuse the corniness here, but the client needs to be happy that this team is speaking with the organisations own voice, representing their best interests and mirroring their core values.

So how is this achieved? Not easily. But any RPO provider worth its salt will create a team around your specific requirements, hand-picking individuals with the right sector-specific experience, connections and expertise to access top talent. Informed by working with the client to understand the specific challenges faced, this proves a winning combination.

The fact is, RPO or no, the common goal is always the same regardless of the route taken to bring the right people into your business to influence organisational change and increase performance. While RPO can undoubtedly help improve this process, I hope this blog goes some way to showing it is not the all-encompassing juggernaut that some people see it as, and (sorry to keep harping on about this) that client input is not only encouraged but essential. RPO is a relationship not a cure, and you really do get out what you put in.


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