Staffing Management

Ready staffing: The growing influence of RPOs

By Yasmeen Qahwash

Feb. 12, 2020

Since its founding in the early 2000s, recruitment process outsourcing companies have expanded their services and are now used as less of a tactical approach for ready staffing and more strategically for company growth.

With that in mind, organizations with ready staffing needs have a choice as RPOs have evolved to become much more agile. 

The Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association defines RPO as “a form of business process outsourcing where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external provider.” RPOs essentially serve as an extension of the human resources department with solutions that organizations can customize based on their ready staffing needs and resources. 

However, RPOs should not be confused with staffing agencies. Unlike staffing agencies, RPOs take ownership of the management and design of recruiting processes, are responsible for the results and they promote the client’s brand instead of their own.

Jesse Silkoff, co-founder and president of MyRoofingPal, an online marketplace for residential and commercial roofers across the United States, said that his company switched from a staffing agency to an RPO because of the lack of results. 

“They filled positions, but in a way I couldn’t engage with. And once the position was filled, they collected their payment and disappeared into the ether until we needed them again,” Silkoff said in an email statement. “They offered no help beyond the things we could have honestly done ourselves.”

After switching to an RPO, Silkoff said that he felt like the company had hired their best talent. “It took about twice as long to fill positions before, and now they’re filled at a lightning fast pace by quality professionals who are interested in the future of the company,” Silkoff said. “While there might come a point where I no longer need that partnership, right now it’s been invaluable.”

The RPO industry looked much different 10 years ago as using virtual assistance to fill positions was only an emerging market. Daniel Ramsey, founder and chief executive officer of real estate virtual assistant company MyOutDesk, LLC, highlighted the evolution of RPOs as he said that today, the applicant pool is almost limitless. 

“This has allowed for true global businesses and an ever increasing workforce,” Ramsey said in an email statement.

Ready staffing not only has been serving an increasing amount of small and large businesses, but has also proven to be beneficial to small businesses in particular, according to Ramsey. 

“A good RPO can find the right person for every business, regardless of the position or the size of the business,” Ramsey said. “This ability has opened up so many possibilities for small businesses to afford growth they might otherwise not be able to afford due to lack of time and money to interview and research potential new hires.”

Companies should also consider the size of the RPO firm, their service structure, cultural fit and cost before deciding which RPO to partner with. Courtney Cook, vice president of RPO strategic development at management consulting company Korn Ferry, said that establishing cultural aliSector-Report-RPOs-Do-More-Than-You-Think-8b38574gnment and trust is critical for mutual success for both the RPO and the buyer.

Your RPO program and the overall talent acquisition process, from high-volume recruiting to professional hires and executive search, should fit together seamlessly,” Cook said in an email statement. “Instill a rigorous and regular meeting rhythm to measure performance, bottlenecks, best practices and market insights to drive continuous improvement.”

According to Joseph Quan, co-founder and CEO of HR software company Twine Labs, RPOs are not a one-size-fits-all solution. While RPOs can bring expertise around how to set up a recruitment process, help define a plan for how to analyze recruitment efficiency, and implement technology solutions that increase efficiency, Quan also said that they cannot change the culture of the organization.

“Lack of institutional support around the importance of recruiting, lack of executive buy-in or unclear internal expectations around hiring aren’t things an RPO can solve,” Quan said in an email statement. “We often see RPOs fail due to this mismatch in expectations.”

The companies that Quan sees getting recruitment right are the ones that have “true alignment from the CEO on down that hiring is a core competitive advantage,” he said. “Hiring managers are bought in to the importance of hiring and spend a substantial amount of time on it. HR teams are forced to be data-driven, not only looking at metrics like cost per hire but analyzing every element of their recruiting funnel, optimizing for efficiency and assessing true impact metrics.”

However, for those companies that find outsourcing their ready staffing to be the most beneficial option, there must be an understanding of each others’ core values, mission and vision, said Cook. “It really depends on the unique needs of a specific company, their culture, openness to partnership and their level of talent maturity,” Cook said.

“RPOs can be a viable long-term solution for organizations if you partner with the right one,” Ramsey said. “After all, if an RPO is sending you quality employees, saving you money and understands the needs of your business, why do it yourself anymore?”

Yasmeen Qahwash is an editorial associate for Workforce.

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