Top Topics at Last Week’s HRO Europe Summit

Although a working trip for me – as a learning session co-presenter with Raytheon, and on two panels, one on learning and one on RPO – I can easily say last week’s HRO Summit Europe got great marks in my book. About 40 percent of participants were buyers – a rare occurrence at conferences these days – with the balance being presenters, providers, analysts, press, researchers, staff and others. Discussions were lively and engaging, and…need I say anything about the beauty of Amsterdam, especially its architecture and canals?

My co-presentation with Raytheon, a learning outsourcing session called, “Bridging the Customer-Provider Divide,” was immediately followed by the learning panel, and witnessed buyer questions including: 1) What role does the retained HR learning organization play, including the role of the retained learning director, HR business partners and governance team?; 2) What lessons learned should a buyer that has just implemented a learning BPO contract incorporate?; 3) Why we are seeing more selective LBPO contracts and less full LBPO contracts?; and 4) What role does LBPO play in retaining knowledge as more employees will inevitably begin to retire? 

While tracks and presentations covered the HRO gamut, two of the major focuses were talent issues and RPO. Dr. Peter Cappelli, Director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School of Business, opened the conference with a keynote entitled, “A Question of Talent.” He began by discussing that, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, 24 years of service with just one company was the average tenure per employee. At the time, companies invested heavily in continuous training, and believed in lateral and upward mobility. He then moved to the sobering stats of today’s workforce. Companies of course still want loyal employees, yet very few do little to give their employees in-turn loyalty, and only one in four of succession plans are utilized. The result is organizations spending thousands of dollars in employee development, only to lose them to competitors.

It almost feels as if organizations accept this as a looming cloud norm in today’s workforce environment. But I vehemently oppose that viewpoint. If you look at the pure financials alone, conservative estimates are that it costs one and a half times as much of an employee’s salary to replace that individual due to the cost of recruitment, development, learning curve, etc. How can that possibly be perceived as good business? I am feeling like an evangelist as I’ve written about it so many times in my blogs, but employee satisfaction and robust initiatives focused on talent retention are vital to competitive advantage and business growth.

One of the largest and most well attended tracks at the conference was on RPO. I was also a member of an RPO panel discussion entitled, “Deep Dive: Driving the Future State of RPO,” along with Alexander Mann Solutions, SourceRight Solutions and a professor from Lancaster University. One question posed by a buyer member in the audience was how RPO has evolved. Each panelist, of course, had its own answer. Mine, not surprisingly as an industry analyst, is that by providing what I call “value-added services” or what I consider to be the “richer RPO services,” you are a true end-to-end RPO provider. This means: 1) services on the front end in workforce planning, talent strategy and employment branding to ensure the right employees with staying power are hired; 2) services in the middle to manage internal recruiting/mobility; and 3) services on the back end, including robust onboarding and ongoing, bi-directional employee engagement.

There are other shifts occurring, including interest in global RPO, and I will cover more on that and learning outsourcing issues discussed at the conference in upcoming blogs!

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

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One Comment on “Top Topics at Last Week’s HRO Europe Summit”


  1. [...] a follow-on to my November 22 blog on the happenings at the recent HRO Europe Summit, a question posed by an audience member to me and my fellow RPO panelists Alexander Mann Solutions, [...]


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