IN today's evolving world of work, organisations are increasingly looking to hire specialised individuals, increase their workforce scalability, flexibility and efficiency, and save costs in a bid to tackle the talent crisis.

With almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees in Singapore planning to leave their jobs within the next 12 months, according to the 2013/14 Randstad World of Work Report, employers here are ramping up their efforts and looking to different measures to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce.

One of these measures is recruitment process outsourcing (RPO). This involves a company contracting out all or part of its recruitment process and talent strategy to an external service provider to gain access to niche and hard-to-find talent, and address strategic talent acquisition and management.

In a snapshot, RPO solutions allow organisations to plan a strategic response to talent shortages by providing better access to hard-to-find skills through a tailored talent acquisition programme. This programme is quite often a mix of dedicated onsite recruiters supported by offsite research specialists underpinned by the latest talent acquisition technology.

At its core, RPO provides the right people, at the right time, for the right price, coupled with scalability and visibility. This means clients should expect outcomes such as reduced agency spend and cost per hire, vacancies filled faster leading to better productivity, and candidates who are a better cultural and technical match, which means a lower turnover rate for companies.

Additionally, by having a dedicated recruitment programme, a client's hiring managers and HR are able to concentrate on their strategic business initiatives and have peace of mind that all applicants - including those that are not successful - are engaged in a professional manner, leading to brand protection and promotion.


For large organisations without a dedicated specialist recruitment team, filling a position can be a lengthy and resource-draining process. Sizeable or siloed organisations can mean that one part of the business does not know what the other departments are doing. Therefore, the likelihood of duplication of services is rife; having multiple - and sometimes contradictory - processes in place to reach the same outcome is common.

Maverick recruitment processes are often prevalent in large organisations that lack a central recruitment function, resulting in increased costs and increased time-to-hire. Candidate experience drops and the effectiveness of the employer brand is eroded.

To combat this, RPO uses talent intelligence and Big Data to not only gather information on the employee's qualifications and work performance but also gain insights into how they can be best utilised by the business now and in the future. The use of such intelligence provides a more transparent recruitment process. Employees can see how roles are being filled and by whom - a boon for identifying talent for mission-critical and leadership succession plans.

RPO teams have access to market information on where to find the best candidates, and this is crucial in a market where the gap between top-talent supply and demand is increasing. As a result, better people are recruited into the organisation while retention is improved.


Efficiency is also enhanced by a reduction in new hire attrition. Research by Everest Group suggests that outsourcing allows employers to analyse and determine the behavioural characteristics, background and skills that are important for a hire to succeed in the organisation. This reduces the likelihood of attrition of new staff. The same report notes that, although difficult to quantify, reduced attrition has a positive impact on productivity as experienced employees typically have higher efficiencies than new arrivals, who take time to move up the learning curve.


Traditionally, companies have made use of intermediary companies or engaged in internal recruitment strategies. Outsourcing the recruitment process means that businesses do not have to deal with the high fixed costs associated with employing a permanent recruiting department. Through RPO, businesses can also reduce fees traditionally paid to third-party recruitment partners by up to 70 per cent.

RPO 2.0

Cost-effective sourcing takes a step further in the new generation of RPO - RPO 2.0. Everest Group research suggests that RPO 2.0 provides 15-20 per cent additional savings compared to traditional RPO operations by increasing internal hiring and reducing new-hire attrition.

In addition, it helps bring the required focus to business-critical roles, quickening the talent deployment cycle and improving the quality of hires by creating access to a wider and more engaged talent pool - all of which will ultimately result in financial savings.

As highlighted, RPO can add more value than simply being a cost-saving solution. It is about enhancing the science of recruiting - putting more rigour, objectivity and data insights into achieving the elusive match among person, role and organisation. These can all increase business transparency and process efficiency, which will ultimately help an organisation tackle the talent crunch.