RPO & StaffingTalent Acquisition

Pinpointing Innovation

Three ways to determine if your talent acquisition process is ahead
of the curve.

By Beth Gilfeather

Today’s RPO buyers demand a more exponential value proposition from providers. Simply achieving a client’s hiring goals and satisfying SLAs are not enough. Buyers want a crystal ball and guarantee of their future state. They want a transformative RPO solution that provides measurable value to both the talent acquisition department itself and the business as a whole. This more expansive buying motive means that innovation has taken center stage and has officially become the core differentiator and a key selling point in today’s recruitment contracts.

Gary Bragar, HRO research director at NelsonHall, agrees: “RPO buyers’ key vendor selection criteria today extend to innovation, not just current recruitment capability. Clients are looking for a provider with a focus on continuous process improvement, and who will continually introduce new ideas and recommend innovative approaches.”

This heightened focus shines a light on the evolution of the RPO industry and raises the bar for all providers to look at pioneering new ways to deliver superior recruitment services. However, while innovation is a common area of focus nowadays, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent definition in place. Phrases like “challenging convention” and “thinking outside the box” are often used to describe a company’s innovative approach. But what does this mean? How can organizations determine if their approach is really innovative? There should be more concrete ways to determine what is innovative -and what is not.

Consider these three approaches:

It must be breakthrough. You aren’t being innovative if you are simply doing more of what has been done before or only making small improvements. Solving problems is not automatically innovative unless that the approach is breaking new ground. Take, for example, the building of a great sourcing strategy. Finding a new effective job board is not being innovative. That is being resourceful. But developing an entirely new candidate engagement program is a good example of innovation. The RPO provider will have done the necessary research to identify the target talent pool, enact upon a thoughtful new advertising and social media program to capture members, and build a creative and highly relevant yearlong marketing campaign.

Buyer tip: Ask the provider specifically what is “breakthrough” about their innovative approach. Focus on understanding the roots of the differentiation. Is it new or better information? New or better measurement? New or better process? New or better tools?

It must be proven. You aren’t being innovative if your organization executes on a breakthrough idea that has never been proven -or worse -eventually fails. Success is the key litmus test to innovation. Take heed if a provider claims to be innovative before having actual examples of proven results.

Buyer tip: Ask the RPO provider for specific detailed outcomes of their innovative approach. For example, ask for metrics around previous programs. They should be able to show tracked benefits over time, measurable wins, and a clear case of return on investment.

It must be continual. Innovation also has an expiration date. There will be a point at which this idea has become the norm. If your organization built a successful candidate onboarding program that was implemented more than a year ago, is it still innovative today? Not likely. It needs another round of analysis to give birth to an even better version.

Buyer tip: Ensure there are timelines involved with any innovation claims. Ask the provider when they broke ground with this new idea and if the concept has changed at all since inception. Any idea that is older than one year can’t really be considered innovative, but can still be considered successful and effective of course. A good RPO provider should have a transformation team who is constantly evaluating and updating programs for continuous improvement. Ask them where this function resides within their model and how it works.

HR executives need to understand what makes an RPO provider an innovative company overall. Important factors include better analytics, think tanks, and having a smart and creative staff. But don’t overlook time and attention. This begins and ends with the capacity of the provider’s leadership team. Be sure to ask specifically how many clients are under the organization’s assigned directors. For example, a client-dedicated director with too many clients to manage will never have the bandwidth to truly learn where the real opportunities for growth may be.

A balanced and focused director will be able to provide intensive everyday investment of their time to allow them to better understand the business and ultimately discover new and breakthrough ideas to grow the solution.

Innovation is undeniably a key focal point. RPO buyers should abide by a stricter definition of what innovation is and probe deeply into these claims to fully understand the provider’s approach and capabilities.

Beth Gilfeather is CEO and founder of Seven Step RPO.

Tags: November 2015

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