By Elliot H. Clark
Every year, we feature our Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Ratings for recruitment process outsourcing (RPO). This year’s service scores are down—and not down a little. They are down a lot. And based on our analysis of the trend research, we think the reasons are driven by both providers and practitioners. How could the client be at fault? First, I didn’t say the providers were not also culpable. I said both, so strap on your seat belts and keep your hands and arms inside the “Statistical Geek Van” and try to enjoy the ride whilst we unpack the data sets.
The overall RPO industry adjusted “Quality of Service” index was actually down for enterprise providers by 5.93 per cent. That is the largest single-year decline we have seen since we began doing the survey. The decline in the “Quality of Service” index when considering all service providers is 6.2 per cent. If you consider the service scores on a year-over-year basis, this year’s top-rated service provider would have ranked third or fourth last year. There was also a modest decline seen across both the “Size of Deal” and “Breadth of Service” indices when the entire market is included.
If we go inside the healthcare vertical in North America, we see even deeper declines in the perception of service quality. We define this vertical by direct patient contact, so hospitals, pharmacy providers, and some insurance company operations that provide care are included, but pharmaceutical companies are excluded. The decrease in the “Quality of Service” index for the healthcare vertical was 13.2 per cent. This had a major impact. The decreased level of customer satisfaction in the healthcare sector negatively impacted the enterprise and midsize deal providers alike. Providers with large healthcare client portfolios, among the most highly rated providers in this survey, were adversely affected in the overall rankings. They are still great RPO providers operating in a healthcare industry that is facing significant workforce demographic issues.
Our algorithm has not changed at all in 2018. There was no shift in the demographic profiles of regions that rated providers (EMEA and APAC tend to rate a bit more conservatively than North America and we account for that). So, if we didn’t change anything….what changed? Did all the providers decide as a group to downgrade services, diminish resources, and disappoint clients? We don’t think so, and the provider community isn’t that organised anyway, so we discarded global conspiracy theories.
It’s the economy, globally. We provide a quarterly global economic report sponsored by PeopleScout for the top 40 global economies and in almost all countries, economic numbers are improving and the global unemployment rate is falling. The process of hiring is getting harder and harder and harder.
Based on write-in comments from the surveys and the data trends, we believe that the time it takes to fill jobs is extending. So far, providers have not done a good job of managing client forecasting in the new normal—meaning that HR practitioners have not yet adjusted their expectational models to reflect the market reality.
In this kind of economic growth, there is a need for quicker speed to market by HR, providers, and hiring managers. You cannot take a week to respond to a resume or six weeks to do interviews or weeks to deliver offers. Global economic acceleration has changed the game, but we are not sure everyone is having that conversation. It’s like the proverb about putting a frog in slowly heating water until it boils or throwing it into boiling water (no frogs should ever be treated this way, by the way).
Based on the survey data and our own observations, HRO Today sees that providers have gotten more sophisticated in their automation and approaches, but the market realities are moving faster than innovation can accommodate. EVERYONE—practitioners, hiring managers, and providers—needs to examine their role in addressing the reality of recruiting in 2018.