The practice of outsourcing recruitment processes is now well accepted in Europe and the US and, increasingly, on the Pacific Rim. But should organisations be going one step further and partnering with outsourcers to support the vital work that goes into retaining staff as well?

I would argue that giving responsibility to an external organisation which already looks after hiring processes would help companies avoid an all too common trap – trying to address retention when it reaches its crisis point and an employee has already expressed a wish to leave. Which is, of course when it is far too late to do anything productive. Once someone has decided to go then what I‘d call the psychological contract has been broken. And when that happens, no matter how much time, effort and money is thrown at the problem, that individual will almost certainly move on – perhaps not immediately, but within a relatively short period of time during which they will become less and less effective.

To be really effective, organisations need to be thinking about retention issues from the very first point when they engage with a potential employee. Of course this means ensuring that front line recruiters are treating the individuals they deal with in a consistently professional fashion – and not just those that are right for the role or the organisation but those who do not match the spec as well. Blogs, twitter and social networking sites have made it all too easy for a disgruntled applicant to do serious damage to an employer brand.

Its also very important for recruiters to be communicating the right messages about the organisation to potential hires. Over-selling a job or a working environment is a recipe for disaster. The more an individual understands about the job and the culture in which it sits then the less likelihood that expectations will not be met and the employee will vote with their feet. It’s all about joining up the talent management process to make it work in the most effective way rather than looking at each part of it in isolation.

We all recognise that the idea of the job for life has gone the way of the dinosaur so 100% retention is completely unrealistic. However retention initiatives are absolutely vital to business success because they can help an organisation analyse exactly what elements of its workforce it really needs to hang on to and how to marshal its resources to do this. Equally as important is the management of attrition. Once a company accepts that people will leave it can target its efforts at ensuring that they leave with the most positive view of their time there. By doing this it will be sending out ambassadors for the business who will help generate new customers, new recruits, new partners. And the flip side of this is just too unpleasant to contemplate.

Paul Daley is a director at recruitment outsourcing and talent management specialist, Ochre House –