THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

December 15, 2005   view past issues

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Feature: To RPO or Not to RPO, That is the Question-Part II

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) has now become the preferred exit strategy for a small, but growing number of employers waging the War for the Best Talent. The evidence shows that it can upgrade the talent recruited by an organization, improve the experience of hiring managers during the recruiting process, and cut the cost and time required to fill their open positions. Not every organization can successfully implement RPO, however, and those that make the wrong choice end up squandering:

  • their limited financial capital;
  • the limited time and attention of their management team (because every outsourcing effort must still be managed internally in order to be successful); and
  • the limited credibility of their Human Resource Department.
  • Said another way, RPO brings both substantial benefits and substantial risk. Therefore, the smart organization will do what it must to minimize the potential downside and maximize the possible upside before committing to the strategy. How can your organization do that? By accomplishing four key tasks that I call the “4 S’s”:

  • Sensing its prospects (for success)
  • Setting the right goals
  • Selecting the right vendor
  • Seeing that the goals are achieved.
  • I covered the first task in my last newsletter. I explore the second task below and will discuss the other two in upcoming newsletters.

    Setting the Right Goals

    This task involves determining the proper scope and performance objectives for a RPO effort. An outsourcing program can involve either a subset or all of an organization’s recruiting process, and it can focus on all or a part of its recruiting requirements. Here’s what I mean.

    As I’ve described in previous columns, every recruiting process involves (or should involve) 16 touch points (where an employer or its representatives interact with candidates) during three key activities: sourcing, evaluating, and selling candidates. These touch points range from creating and promoting an employment brand, posting job ads, and conducting interviews to formulating an offer, negotiating it with a candidate, and reinforcing an affirmative candidate decision to ensure they actually show up on the first day of work.

    A RPO contract can obligate an outside vendor to perform the activities at some or all of these 16 touch points for an organization’s entire annual recruiting requirement (i.e., all of its exempt and nonexempt hires and even the contract and contingent labor it procures). Alternatively, it can assign the activities at some or all of those 16 touch points for a designated subset of that requirement. For example, the RPO vendor might be expected to source, evaluate and/or sell candidates for an organization’s:

  • diversity hires,
  • field sales reps,
  • mid-level professional staff, or
  • technicians for its facilities located west of the Mississippi.
  • The key to a successful RPO program, therefore, is to be crystal clear about what activities you expect the RPO contractor to perform and for what population of new hires. It is equally as important to set clear performance goals, not only for the vendor, but for key constituencies internal to your organization. Said another way, success depends upon your successfully articulating and managing expectations both with the vendor and among key leaders in your organization.

    Most RPO programs are initiated with three goals: lowering costs, improving new hire quality, and enhancing customer satisfaction. All of these goals can’t be the #1 priority at the same time, however. Instead, the attention that is devoted to them must be tailored to the life cycle of an outsourcing project. Progress should be achieved against all three goals at every stage of the project, of course, but only one of the goals should be highlighted for progress at any specific stage in a RPO contract.

  • Given the efficiencies that are inherent in the operations of most RPO vendors, it is best to establish cost savings as the primary goal in the early stages of a contract. Cost savings goals can only be realistically set, however, if your organization has an accurate picture of its cost baseline before the RPO contract is signed. With that in place, clear and realistic goals can be established for the vendor, accurate measurements of its performance can be determined, and those results can be used to remedy problems, improve ROI, and communicate progress to corporate leaders.
  • Over time, the cost savings achieved through better efficiency will inevitably become subject to the law of diminishing returns-there will simply be less and less waste to wring out of the process. As a result, improving the quality of new hires is usually the best objective during the middle stages of a contract (with efficiency still important, but a secondary goal). As with cost savings, however, improvements in quality depend upon up-front preparation. The key is the development of a clear definition of new hire quality that is (a) accepted throughout your organization (i.e., by hiring managers and the Finance Department as well as the recruiting team) and (b) explicitly stated as a performance requirement in the RPO contract.
  • While cost savings and new hire quality are always important, the best objective for the later stages of a RPO contract is improving customer satisfaction. Why? Because in the earlier stages of a contract, sustained satisfaction is rare. Initially, hiring mangers are likely to resent having to do things differently (i.e., the vendor’s way), but this resistance will eventually subside. Over time, the vendor’s practices and procedures will come to be seen as the norm, and-assuming it meets the middle stage goal and consistently delivers high quality hires when they’re needed-your customers will forget their angst and instead applaud.
  • At first blush, recruitment process outsourcing can seem like the perfect solution to many staffing departments. And sometimes, it is. An organization turns over key recruiting activities to an outside vendor, and results meet or exceed its expectations. More frequently, however, RPO isn’t quite that simple. It sets up a long term relationship between two organizations, and as with any relationship, success depends upon clear communication, careful preparation, rigorous oversight and, ultimately, a determination to make it work. Absent those factors, RPO can be more like a Really Problematic Operation.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    Happy Holidays! We at WEDDLE’s wish you and yours a wonderful Holiday season and a New Year filled with health, happiness and fulfillment. We hope the time you spent with us in 2005 was useful and enjoyable, and we look forward to seeing you again regularly in 2006.


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    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Manpower, Inc. conducted a survey of 1,300 employees around the U.S. and found that gas prices are emerging as a new and potent threat to retention and performance. More than a third of the respondents (35%) said that the rising cost of gas had forced them to begin looking for a new job that was closer to home; 4.5% said they had already found one and would be leaving their current employer. In addition, another 31% said that they were exploring new ways of commuting, including the use of public transportation and carpooling, and those alternatives may limit their flexibility and face time on-the-job. What’s to be done? First, be proactive; this problem isn’t going to go away any time soon, so it’s important to devise effective responses now, before you have an attrition crisis. You might develop a telecommuting program, a commutation subsidy, and/or an in-house ride-sharing initiative. Second, make sure supervisors and managers are aware of the situation and take it into account when scheduling meetings and setting expectations for “face time” on-the-job. They should be receptive-after all, they have to drive to work too-but breaking old habits can be hard, so don’t assume instant and universal compliance. Instead, monitor their behavior and work with those who may (consciously or otherwise) slip back into “33 cents-per-gallon practices.”

    Mellon Financial surveyed employers last year and found that 71% now offer flextime, up almost 100% since 1996. No less impressive, half of the responding employers offer the option to work at home, up from just 9% in 1996. It seems that corporate America has finally gotten the message about the importance of flexibility and work-life balance. Or, has it? In two recent studies, one by ISR and the other by Employee Benefits News, workers reported that they were either unable to use these benefits or were afraid that doing so would hurt their career prospects. More than a third of workers (34%) believe that work demands “seriously interfere” with their private lives. And, 50% of benefits managers say that some employees (19% say that many of them) believe that using work-life benefits can undermine their advancement in an organization. How can this be? We all know the answer: too many mangers and supervisors give lip service to the policies and programs, but ignore them in their day-to-day practices. And there’s no excuse for that. The positive business impact of flexibility and work-life balance has been well documented, so the implementation of such programs is (or should be) a CEO priority, not an HR initiative. That doesn’t mean we in the HR Department aren’t accountable, however. While some organizational executives will figure it out on their own, most will probably need some coaching to understand, and that’s our job.

    Right Management Consultants reported that a majority of companies (63%) believe that their #1 internal communications challenge is to improve the alignment between the organization’s business strategy and goals and what its employees do on-the-job. Despite that emphasis, however, only 37% thought that they had clearly established the connection. Why such middling success? There are probably several factors at work, of course, but chief among them is the difficulty of achieving mindshare in today’s era of information overload. Traditionally, advertisers believed that prospective customers must see their message at least seven times before it would be consciously recognized and acted upon. With the proliferation of news and information sources in the modern workplace, however, it’s even harder to break into your employees’ frontal lobes and “sell” them on the organization’s mission. Therefore, any communications strategy must be ceaselessly repetitive and delivered via a wide and diverse set of channels (e.g., your intranet, e-mail, old fashioned memos, pay envelope stuffers, meetings with supervisors, corporate-wide meetings). Said another way, aligning employee work with the organization’s mission is a work-in-progress, not an objective that can be accomplished in one message or even in one year.

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a new program called “Basic Pilot” that now makes it much easier to verify whether or not an employment candidate is eligible to work in the United States (and harder to claim that you didn’t know otherwise). Employers and staffing firms can simply input an applicant’s Social Security or alien registration number at the USCIS Web-site, and it will indicate their work status. To get started, visit the agency’s Home Page, click on Employer Information (under Hot Topics), then on Employment Verification Pilot Programs, then on Basic Pilot. You’ll have to fill out a registration form which will generate a memorandum of understanding from the agency; once you’ve signed and returned that document to USCIS, the agency will send you a user ID, and you’ll ready to reference check online.

    Zoom Information, Inc., a search engine company that finds information online about individuals and employers, announced the introduction of new features in its search results. In addition to the traditional information it generates about individuals, the engine will now also identify any other persons in its database with whom those individuals may have a relationship (e.g., a coworker). Further, the search engine will enable users to communicate directly with all of the people it has identified, although their e-mail addresses will not be visible. The company is offering the feature, which it describes as “automated, open networking,” for free, and expects it to improve the speed and usefulness of its search results.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. The sudden departure of a key employee-a bright fellow and natural leader-has created a crisis in your transportation company. Where could you go online to find a high-performer who could rise to the occasion?

  • Rudolf.com
  • FlyingAnimals.com
  • Antlers.com
  • FlyingHooves.com
  • 2. The workers in your northern plant are overwhelmed with their Holiday production schedule and need help. Where could you go online to build a small reinforcement team fast?

  • SmallJobs.com
  • SantasElves.com
  • MiniTalent.com
  • Elf.com
  • 3. Your vehicle for a time-sensitive distribution program is broken, and your mechanic has just resigned. Which of the following sites would help you fill the vacancy and keep things moving smoothly?

  • HorseSleigh.com
  • Whinny.org
  • SnowTechs.com
  • SledWarehouse.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    ASIS International

    http://www.asisonline.org

    American Society of Industrial Security International

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Contract

    Distribution of jobs: International

    Fee to post a job: $150/posting

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 1,000+

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among resumes: Director/Chief of Security

    Other services for employers: Automated resume agent

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: No

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. While all of these sites actually exist, none offer a job board, let alone a way to rein in some high flying prospects.

    2. These sites also exist, but we’re afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere to find a small team with big talent.

    3. Yes, these too are real sites, but they do not offer a job board or access to anyone good enough to get a vehicle to fly.


    Support Our Sponsor: ZoomInfo

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of ZoomInfo.

    Recruiters Rejoice – There’s ZoomInfo

    Now, with one tool, you can quickly and easily find the right candidate, build a stronger network, and develop relationships.

    Why Zoom?

  • Comprehensive summaries on more than 27 million business professionals and 2 million companies
  • Ability to search by multiple fields such as title, industry, location, revenue, education and many more
  • Extend your reach deep into organizations to source top passive candidates

    Bottom line: More ROI with more quality placements in less time

    ZoomInfo is the tool of choice for tens of thousands of recruiters. Tried it yet?

    Try ZoomInfo Today!