RPO & StaffingTalent Acquisition

Multinational RPO Complexity

Standardization is a desired goal of all buyers, but remaining flexible to each location’s unique needs will help ensure the most effective results. Keep in mind of the four tiers present in each multinational RPO deal.

by Michael Beygelman

Although RPO adoption is on the rise, true recruitment outsourcing is seldom practiced. Most often buyers think they’re outsourcing recruitment, but in reality they are really engaging in project recruiting or managed direct-hire engagements instead of RPO, which is the transfer of exclusive ownership of in-scope recruitment process to a third-party service provider. This distinction is critical for would-be buyers of multinational recruitment services to better understand, but for now, however, for now let’s focus on true multinational recruitment outsourcing.

THE REALITIES OF STANDARDIZATION
To a corporate leader or decision-maker unfamiliar with RPO, it might appear intuitive to achieve one standardized functional recruitment approach across a number of locations. After all, how can one argue with that logic? In practicality, however, this may not be feasible or simple to achieve.

Consider a fictional North American recruitment outsourcing initiative with three sites in Canada, three sites in the U.S., and five sites in Mexico. It has an enterprise license of ApplicantTracking, a fictitious recruitment management system. Say the Mexican operations refuse to adopt this technology because they don’t believe hiring levels warrant the complexities and costs. After an internal struggle, Mexico acquiesces to turning over recruitment to an outside vendor but insists against adopting ApplicantTracking.

On the other hand, the Canadians want a skinny version without the burdens of OFCCP compliance processes. They also want a Canadian look with a screening process that includes a psychometric evaluation because of the nature of the high-level exempt positions. This, of course, will be a unique process because neither Mexico nor the U.S. has such a requirement.

In the above examples, we haven’t even moved past the recruitment and screening tools, and we already have three different processes. So much for corporate desire for standardization. The lessons learned are this: let each country create a functional service delivery model that will yield it the best results, with a keen understanding of the idiosyncrasies of its own respective cultures. After all, the service provider will have a local country presence, or it should, and that local service delivery team is in the best position to come to terms with the local country management on defining the most effective model. Don’t allow the U.S. to define a best practice for Mexico or Canada.

THE PRACTICALITY OF STANDARDIZATION
Multinational recruitment outsourcing should be thought of as one holistic program with four likely tiers of varying application activity. At the highest level, there are executive program management from the service provider and executive program sponsorship on behalf of the customer. This tier would likely be a very small tier of individuals who can measure the program in the most objective and standardized manner.

The next tier down is country and program management of the service provider and the customer. Each country’s program will vary slightly. A customer can be assured of a standard and mutually exclusive service delivery in each respective country by empowering this tier with country program oversight.

Tier three represents the functional management team of the service provider mapping to the customer’s business leaders and HR practitioners in each country.

At this level (e.g., recruitment lead, account manager, HR generalist), collaboration ensures that each country’s in-scope location recruitment processes are systematically applied.

Finally, tier four represents the staffers recruiting and administering the process and the customer’s hiring managers being serviced. At this level, the multinational recruitment outsourcing model really begins to pay off.

It is best to let each country structure its practices with proper validation; memorialize these into a documented process; reach agreement on the feasibility of administering a slightly different process; and begin to unify the corporate program as you move up the tiers. Each tier will clearly serve a unique function in this multinational recruitment outsourcing ecosystem, yielding overall program success.

While some might argue that standardization of all recruitment activity across a multitude of locations is most effective, practical experience will likely demonstrate otherwise. In practicality, customers should look to achieve a consistent program implementation, management, and governance model while remaining flexible to allow each country’s unique differences.

Tags: RPO & Staffing, Talent Acquisition

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