The world’s leading water treatment company needed a worldwide recruitment strategy. They got it.
By Charlie Pajor
Chicago-based Nalco is the world’s leading water treatment and process improvement company. Employing more than 11,500 people in 130 countries—and supported by a comprehensive network of manufacturing facilities, sales offices, and research centers—Nalco helps its customers in many ways: reducing energy, water, and other natural resource consumption; enhancing air quality; minimizing environmental releases; and improving productivity.
Early in 2008, Nalco identified the need to establish a clear global recruitment strategy that was to be designed to attract highly qualified candidates to its organization. A key Nalco growth tactic is to target opportunities in various parts of the world under its so-called BRIC+ strategy—focusing on Brazil, Russia, India, China, and other key areas (including the Middle East, Caspian Sea and West Africa).
Hiring new employees, especially sales engineers and researchers, in each of those regions is critical to supporting the company’s growth plan. In order to support this effort, Nalco sought to establish a global recruitment partner, and circulated a request for information to four major industry players, including Hudson, the company it chose.
Given the early-stage development of Nalco’s recruitment function in international markets at that time, recruitment process outsourcing provider Hudson proposed two possible solutions:
1) A master contractor/managed vendor model with oversight of core suppliers; or
2) A recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) arrangement.
Hudson’s RPO solution included a dedicated, on-site delivery team to manage a complete life-cycle recruitment process, including global account management, sourcing, technology design and workflow, change management, reporting mechanisms, vendor management, and global service levels. The solution also provided a customized turnkey solution that could be transferred to Nalco as its recruitment infrastructure and businesses matured in the various markets.
Nalco ultimately chose the Hudson RPO route for four key reasons:
- Building a consistent, quality recruitment process and supporting policies;
- Generating a rich pipeline of talent;
- Geographic diversity; and
- Greatest return on investment.
Soon after Hudson was engaged, however, the global recession hit, presenting a combination of challenges and opportunities for Nalco. The decision was made to launch an aggressive productivity program that focused on improved efficiency, providing savings that allowed Nalco to shift the company’s employee base, reducing headcount in some regions while adding in its targeted BRIC+ growth areas.
Laurie Marsh, Nalco’s vice present of human resources, recalls: “During 2009, it was essential that we effectively redeployed hiring efforts to position ourselves for growth in the BRIC+ markets.”
Aside from supporting the hiring needs within growth markets, one of the key elements of the solution was to build a multi-tiered sourcing strategy with a focus on direct sourcing. As part of executing this strategy, Nalco’s average time-to-hire dropped 52 percent across all regions with the RPO model within the first 18 months of the engagement. For 2009, that period shrank to just 38 days, resulting in significant cost savings to the corporation. Plus, 95 percent of all professional-level hires (approximately 450 in all) during 2009 were exclusively sourced and placed by Hudson through the RPO arrangement. Nalco saved an additional $1.8 million by not having to rely on other outside agencies to find and hire talent.
Karen Murphy, Nalco’s director of talent management, observes: “We feel that Hudson’s partnership in executing our global recruitment strategy over the past few years has been invaluable. We have effectively moved to a centralized, consistent, and cost-effective model, providing greater ability to attract the right candidates to Nalco globally.”
Nalco has successfully insourced the turnkey solution for Europe, continues as an outsourced RPO in Asia Pacific, and is now partnering with Hudson to implement the RPO solution in Latin America.
Charlie Pajor is senior manager, external communications for Nalco.