RPO Edging Toward Global

As 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, SourceRight Solutions and a professor from Lancaster University deserves a deeper look. The question was, “We hear about RPO going global. How should global RPO be defined, as compared to how people are using this term, and is a shift occurring?”

NelsonHall defines global RPO as hiring in two or more continents. And in that context, on the panel I said very few global RPO contracts have been awarded to date. There have been some multi-country contracts awarded within a given region, and a few North American contracts that include some hires in Central, Latin and South America, but not much beyond that. But, in a “we’re getting there” moment, I was able to cite that just two days earlier: 1) FutureStep was awarded a truly global RPO contract by Cummins Inc. to provide RPO services in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific and South America; and 2) Allegis Group Services and Talent2, in partnership, were awarded a multi-continent RPO contract by an unnamed global financial services company to provide RPO in several locations in North America and Asia Pacific.

And just last week, Manpower was awarded a large global RPO contract by Rio Tinto to provide approximately 11,000 hires per year in North America (US, Canada), Asia Pacific (Australia, India), Europe (France, U.K.), Middle East, South Africa and South America. Granted, three is not a crowd when it comes to critical mass of contract type indicators, but I do think we’re finally beginning to see RPO edging toward global.

As I identified in my 2009 RPO report, one of RPO buyers’ top vendor selection criteria is the ability to provide global delivery, including in-region recruiters. Subsequently, my critical success factors recommendation was that if providers did not already have a global presence, it would be prudent to begin pursuing a global recruiting partnership with vendors that could provide recruiters in countries and regions where new hires are needed. Since then, we’ve seen a number of such partnerships emerge, including the December 3, 2010 announcement of Adecco and the Beijing Foreign Enterprise Human Resources Company (FESCO) establishing a joint venture to take advantage of the emerging markets growth potential in China, and provide global RPO to multi-national corporations based in China per Adecco’s presence in 60 countries.

I believe we will see continued demand by global clients to have one provider manage all of their recruitment needs, and that, in turn, we will see many more global RPO contracts signed in 2011. However, getting buy-in and cooperation from business leaders in local countries is a massive change management issue requiring significant attention, care and effort. Providers can help prospective clients during due diligence to quantify current costs, time to hire, hiring manager satisfaction, attrition and other metrics to help make the case. 

Buyers and providers will be watching the success of these new global deals; and if they are indeed successful, they will create the impetus for increased global RPO demand in 2011 and beyond.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

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