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Dan Ferrandino

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Seize the moment: Embrace change and strengthen HR

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Dan Ferrandino discusses why the current tough trading conditions present an ideal opportunity to embrace change and reinforce the business relevance of the HR function.

2009 will go down as a year of unprecedented change – from a new political agenda in the US to the global economic crisis. As Barack Obama said: "The world has changed, and we must change with it."
 
Embracing and implementing change can be a daunting task, and when business is strong, new initiatives often meet with resistance and an unwillingness to upset the status quo. However, with the good times gone and many organisations facing the prospect of failure, the natural tendencies are overtaken by the realisation that changes have to take place. The reality is that now is the least risky time to make radical business changes.
 

Carpe diem

 
The current economic climate has arguably created the ideal moment for HR professionals to introduce the improvements and strategic transformations their organisations need to survive, and ultimately thrive. And, by demonstrating a very real impact on your organisation’s bottom line, you can also establish much greater influence for the HR function.
 
And it’s not just struggling organisations that should be embracing change. Rather than waiting to reach the very point of failure, now is the perfect opportunity to seize the moment, step ahead of the curve and make the changes your business needs to succeed.
 
Many organisations struggle with the inflexibility of large in-house resourcing groups, and outsourcing some or all of these functions is one option to deliver improvements. In fact, outsourcing will provide a flexible, cost-effective service that can also deliver significant quality and performance gains.
 
Outsourcing HR activities such as payroll and employee benefits isn’t seen as controversial, but in contrast recruitment has traditionally been regarded as too important to entrust to an outside organisation. But in today’s challenging business climate, organisations simply cannot afford to make poor resourcing decisions.
 

Adding value through outsourcing resourcing

 
An increasing number of organisations now see outsourcing as providing not only a solution to reduce their recruitment costs and alleviate administrative headaches, but also one that will help them recruit, develop and retain the best possible talent.
 
Outsourced resourcing can deliver added value across the entire resourcing function – acquiring, evaluating and developing talent – and positively impact the bottom line, but for optimum results they need the scope, full responsibility, accountability, a detailed understanding of the organisation’s values, strategy, culture, training and development practices, the ideal employee fit for every role, as well as an ‘inclusive’ relationship with the organisation.
 
Many organisations fear they will lose too much control using an outsourcing provider, and limit the amount of responsibility they devolve. However, this approach actually restricts the success that can be achieved. Outsourcing providers should in fact be given more, not less, responsibility in order to deliver the best results.
 

To get the best results … be demanding

 
When considering outsourcing resourcing, HR professionals should be very demanding of potential providers regarding the service, performance benefits and value that they want.
 
As well as setting targets covering the main recruitment KPIs – including cost per candidate, cost per recruit, time to hire and new recruit churn – organisations should be equally demanding in terms of price flexibility, the provision of excellent value and for a seamless transition of services, as they move from in-house to outsourced resourcing.
 
Also, establish clear benchmarks and measurement processes at the outset, so that the provider’s performance and success can be evaluated.
 
So what makes a good outsourced resourcing provider?
  • Sector experience: This will help them quickly get ‘under-the-skin’ of your operations and understand the specific people challenges you face.
  • Ability to easily integrate into your business: Their team will probably need to be based, at least in part, within your offices.
  • The latest recruitment technology, techniques and expertise: So that they can draw upon their experience and knowledge to enhance your recruitment processes.
  • Responsibility and accountability: A desire to be responsible for all your resourcing needs – from assisting with manpower planning, job design and liaising with hiring managers to determine what candidates are required, through to candidate screening, assessment, setting-up and facilitating interviews and ensuring the best candidate is hired.
  • Ability to deliver a great candidate experience: A good provider can deliver a candidate experience that not only enhances your brand among all applicants (recruits and unsuccessful candidates), but also encourages the most sought after talent to ‘stay-in-play’ until you are in a position to make them an offer.
  • An added value approach: Look for a provider with the expertise, culture and track record of providing additional services and interventions – such as assessment design and delivery, transition management, employment screening and consultancy. Can they demonstrate experience of designing service level agreements and customer satisfaction programmes that involve all stakeholders in the end-to-end resourcing process – rather than meaningless weekly or monthly reports that nobody uses?
 

Carpe Diem and make your mark

 
With the UK downturn expected to last into 2010, doing nothing and simply hoping the tough economic conditions will recede is not a credible strategy for success. Now is the ideal time to seize the moment and make the fundamental changes necessary to give your business the best chance of success.
 
Never before has recruiting, developing and retaining the right staff, with the right skills, in the right role been more important to the survival of a business. With the support of a carefully chosen provider, clear goals and a fully-integrated relationship, implementing a new approach to resourcing can save your organisation money, introduce much greater flexibility and improve key recruitment metrics.
 
At a time when cost-efficiencies are foremost in the boardrooms of every organisation, this is your chance to make your mark and provide compelling evidence of just how business-relevant the HR function can be.
 
 
 
Dan Ferrandino is managing director of Reed Consulting.
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