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Employee Engagement | 6 minute read

The Benefits Of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) In The UK Market

November 29, 2016

As part of our close to 2016, we are presenting a series of articles exploring key employment trends, regional talent acquisition challenges, as well as strategic solutions on how HR leaders can meet or exceed their talent goals moving into 2017 and beyond. If you're just making your acquaintance with the series, we suggest you first check out article one, five global employment trends impacting 2017's people agenda. Below are previous articles in the series:

This week, VP of Client Strategy, Lesley Taylor, discusses the state of talent acquisition (TA) in the UK, and more broadly, in EMEA markets.

Twenty years ago, recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) was a new and novel approach to TA. While it's more commonly known now, this model continues to grow in popularity particularly in the UK – one of the driving markets for adoption – and EMEA. An increasing number of organisations here have turned to recruitment process outsourcing as they explore talent consulting strategies that allow them to focus on their core competencies.

What’s the current state?

For many years, there was a misconception that recruitment outsourcing was only suitable for the largest UK corporations with thousands of hires a year. Indeed, those larger companies were some of the first organisations to adopt this process. Recently, however, we have begun to see mid-size to smaller organisations consider recruitment outsourcing as a way to improve hiring quality and reduce agency spend.

While cost is a common driver for seeking alternate recruitment strategies, many employers also see it as a way to improve candidate quality and increase flexibility. Because they function differently than agencies — offering more proactive solutions — they can generally provide candidates that are more suited to the open roles and better aligned with organisational culture. Additionally, because RPO partners can scale the size of their teams up and down as demand dictates, they often provide greater flexibility throughout the year, especially for businesses seeing great growth and those in expanding industries. This flexibility mirrors the needs of UK organisations, because whilst many segments in the UK economy are booming, there is a degree of uncertainty due to Brexit.

How can providers overcome barriers to adoption?

Misunderstanding is the biggest barrier to recruitment outsourcing adoption in the UK. This is because it represents a new way of doing things, and there are always questions and concerns when in-house functions are moved to an outsourced model. Hiring managers and people in similar positions might not understand how this TA strategy will change their day-to-day routines.

To overcome this misunderstanding, partners must emphasise that RPO is an end-to-end process that integrates into talent acquisition processes, and not just a quick fix for hiring needs. Professionals in the TA space will certainly benefit from entering this industry, as they can spend less time managing screening and sourcing and more time on strategy and big-picture challenges. By relying on a third-party, the TA function won’t need to increase or cut staff to navigate spikes and lulls in hiring.

It’s also important to point out that because RPO partners are aligned to business objectives, they can improve productivity and the bottom line by providing higher quality candidates, thereby reducing turnover. 

Looking beyond the basics

Just as UK companies have evolved, so has recruitment outsourcing. Whereas it was once a simple business process outsourcing solution, it now takes on a strategic role in TA.

One of the many areas in which recruitment outsourcing adds value is with the candidate experience. Compared to an agency, they can offer a seamless end-to-end candidate experience. Often, providers will brand themselves as the client, which means candidates don’t see a disconnect in service between the provider and the employer.

Another area is employment branding, which is critical to differentiating employers in a competitive marketplace for labour in the UK. A strong employment brand requires a clear voice and coherent narrative across many different elements in the candidate journey, including career pages, social media, recruitment marketing, accolades, and corporate social responsibility. Working as a strategic partner to the employer, recruitment outsourcing can help promote and improve that brand.

What will RPO look like in the future in the UK?

As recruitment outsourcing continues to flourish in the UK, some of the apprehensions to change will fall as TA professionals become better informed and realise its benefits. This strategy will continue to grow in popularity as more organisations look for efficient, effective solutions, especially in light of an increasingly challenging domestic labour market. With economic expansion, internal TA functions will be stretched thin — there will be less bandwidth, prompting the need to explore third-party solutions.

In upcoming posts, we will look at key TA challenges across The United States as well as what TA leaders will be looking to in 2017. We encourage you to sign up for regular updates so you don't miss a post in this series!

[AT A GLANCE] Learn More About The Benefits of Outsourcing The Recruitment  Function In Five Minutes Or Less.

About Lesley Taylor

As the senior vice president, talent operations, EMEA at WilsonHCG, Lesley is responsible for the delivery of WilsonHCG's talent solutions across EMEA. She helps clients in the region improve business outcomes through better talent.