Close to 15 years ago I got a call from a Chief HR Officer I knew asking me what I thought about outsourcing HR. At the time, I was a consultant focused on leadership and culture. He had just taken a new job with a company that was about to expand rapidly – taking their retail concept national. Given the aggressive plans they had and timelines, he was exploring all options. I remember my initial reaction to his question. It was visceral, it was automatic, it was powerful. How could you outsource the part of your business that was focused on people? His was a services business. It was dependent upon people, upon talent. What message are you sending your employees or your customers for that matter if they got wind of it, by in a sense saying that your people are “non-core” to your business? I think, or at least I hope, I softened my feedback to him, but I don’t tend to hide it well when I have strong opinions.
Fast forward to now. Guess what? I work for an HR outsourcing organization. How interesting are the lessons we learn in life. I wasn’t looking to go into outsourcing. In fact, when I was first approached about the opportunity to make this career change, I was still skeptical. My perception of outsourcing wasn’t great. Isn’t it all about shaving costs and driving every last inefficiency out of everything so that the outsourcing company could maximize their profits and the client organization could deliver the outsourced HR service to their employees at the absolute lowest price point possible? That didn’t sound like an inspiring career move to me. I wondered why they would want me too. Here I was, focusing most of my energy leading an organizational change practice, what might that have to do with Recruitment Process Outsourcing?
Little did I know. Eventually, I went for a visit and took a look for myself. What I learned was shocking and it spurred me to make a career change that I never would have envisioned. I saw an obsession and passion for talent and talent acquisition. I saw process “geeks” who were constantly looking for ways to apply the best practices from other functions and areas of expertise, to HR and recruiting. And they were as focused on doing it to deliver better quality as they were to be more “efficient.” I saw innovation and creativity and transformational work. I saw hard work too, and then it became clear to me. What I saw is that the key is keeping the human in human resources. Bringing dedication, excellence and expertise shouldn’t be a crime just because you’re outside the walls of that business. Bringing a business focus to the work of HR shouldn’t be either.
I’m not saying all outsourcing is great, but I did have to eat crow. I’m proud to say I work for an RPO and I love it. I love the impact we have on clients every day, and I thoroughly enjoy working with anyone who shares a personal passion for making people and HR better every day.
Post contributed by Angela Hills. Follow me on Twitter @angelahills
Post contributed by Barry Diamond. Follow Barry on Twitter @bddiamond
The other day my wife, Barbara, showed me this holiday picture. Normally I’d just find amusement in this snapshot and move on. However, for some reason, this image stuck with me. It stuck with me because, in a way, this photo represents the current schism of service providers in the Recruitment Process Outsourcing industry.
Many RPO service providers are like the house on the left hand side of the photo (albeit a bit less ostentatious). They are delivering great results and reinvesting in their core competency. They are industry leaders who have set the bar high. Because of these RPO firms, recruitment process outsourcing has been elevated to the strategic outsourcing option it is today.
But success has also created a new group of companies that resemble the house on the right hand side. These firms are simply looking to capitalize on the uptick in RPO popularity. To be fair, some new entrants have gotten it right and we welcome them. They have a clear value proposition and the capabilities to back it up.
However, some upstarts are mostly talk. Their value proposition is basically “me too;" We can do anything. Many have basic recruiting capabilities and some even have technology tools, but most lack the expertise of transition, change management and seamless integration. In addition, they are missing the required depth of knowledgeable and associated talent (people) to make RPO sustainable. Outsourcing is difficult and without these critical components, any RPO program will quickly implode.
Creating an exceptional holiday display takes experience, commitment and investment ….and so does RPO. While the “ditto” briefly catches our attention, there really are no shortcuts.