A Q&A with Seven Step RPO’s Bill Ingram
By Bill Hatton
Bill Ingram, executive vice president of Seven Step RPO, has more than 20 years experience in the recruiting industry. HRO Today Global approached Ingram to get some insider analysis on the state of RPO right now in Europe—so HR practitioners can understand what potential vendors’ take on the situation is right now. Here are his insights:
Question: Can you give me a “lay of the land” in the RPO space right now in Europe, e.g., U.K. versus Europe maturity, demographic impact, economics – and how that affects recruiting and RPO?
Answer: RPO in the U.K. is currently very project or partial scope orientated. There are a large number of second- and third-generation buyers mid-contract, which squeezes the size and scope of first generation deals in the country down. The U.K. is the most mature RPO market in Europe, and the mainland has some catching up to do in the number and volume of deals that can be executed. I think there is scope for multi-country European deals, but not necessarily involving the U.K. I think RPO growth within Europe will be driven mainly by German and French headquartered businesses, incorporating their interests across mainland Europe. I think the project/partial scope trend, whether that be employer branding, analytics or sourcing, will continue to grow. We will also continue to see large enterprise deals over taking second and third generation ones that are not automatically renewing their existing suppliers. Both talent acquistion and procurement functions appear much keener, ensuring that they are receiving all the latest bells and whistles no matter how comfortable they are with their existing supplier.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing an HR practitioner in the EU needs to know about RPO right now?
A: With the continued economic stabilization in some of the newer EU member countries and the southern European Mediterranean countries, the industrial/economic powerhouses of northern Europe have become reliant for both skilled and unskilled workers from those countries. There will be less movement with the already existing skills gap growing larger. Therefore, being able to utilise the benefits of an RPO provider from a branding, social, and community standpoint as well as the more standard functions will become higher on the priority map as the issues become more and more significant.
Q: What do they need to know is coming to keep pace?
A: The skills crunch is becoming more of an issue as economies grow and stabilise. Continuing to do what they have been doing is not going to be a solution for their businesses. HR practitioners need to be braver at putting new solutions and technology in place, not just focusing on acquisition but also on retention. With retention becoming a real focus, RPO providers can help with ongoing strategies and expertise as well as headcount to facilitate these programmes with end customers. I also feel that the risk adverse nature of organisations to just leverage RPO for high volume transactional staff is changing and that thought leaders and shakers in the talent acquisition space should recognise that hard-to-fill positions can also be outsourced with the right provider.
Q: Why do you believe that, can you give me an example, and what steps can a provider take?
A: By just doing what they are doing right now, even if successful, will not be done in 24 months. Retention of staff and how RPOs can be an integral part of that will be key to ensuring that they support their business as we approach 2020. Right now, the slow moving providers will struggle and those that act sooner will have a significant advantage on both hiring and retaining.
Smart buyers no longer see RPO as a transactional solution but rather a strategic solution made up of multiple elements from branding to analytics and beyond. Example: How does a large agricultural business combat the living wage and a 50 per cent year-on-year drop in their ability to hire 2,500 individuals a year from Mainland Europe into the U.K.? This is not a transactional solution but rather a strategic solution that will evolve over many years to deal with this problem, along with their RPO provider. Until the U.K. government allows Tier 3 Visa allocation again, the solutions in place will need strategic and light footed change annually built on the foundations of the original long-term solution.