Most IT managers would not think twice about employing recruitment consultants to get the staff they want, but how far should they take the process?
Similarly, human resources is one of the earliest and easiest parts of an organisation to outsource, but how deep does that go?
Should, for example, an organisation effectively outsource its recruitment?
Jeff Wellstead, HR Director of SpinVox, a Marlow-based company whose products convert voice automatically into text and deliver it as a SMS text, email, blog or to a social network wall or space, did just that.
SpinVox has grown rapidly since its launch in 2003 and Wellstead said traditional recruitment methods just would not have given him the staff, with the skills he needed, in the right timeframe.
“SpinVox was undergoing a huge transformation in growing from 50 UK-based employees to 350 employees over the course of 18 months,” he said. “As much as I enjoy recruitment, there was no way I could recruit this many people in 8 countries in that short amount of time.”
Staff were recruited across the whole business - operations, IT development, finance, marketing HR and quality control.
Wellstead had experience of outsourced recruitment, but outsourcing on this scale was “a mix of both shear panic and a considered decision,” he said. After evaluating several organisations Spinvox called in recruitment process outsourcing specialists Project IT to do the job.
“Using traditional methods of recruitment would require my very small HR team to drop their day jobs, and be on-line and on the phone all day long managing candidates, recruiters and job interview schedules,” said Wellstead.
It was not just the volume of work that made the traditional approach impossible; it was the image Spinvox wanted to convey. In normal circumstances, “Even if candidates don’t get the job offer, you want them to walk away thinking, ‘Wow, what a great company to work for, and I’ll definitely tell my friends about the experience’,” Wellstead said.
“My team just don’t have the cycles to run a full-blown recruitment operation whilst managing their other remits,” he added.
Spinvox took steps to ensure it did not loose vital recruitment skills or loose control of the recruitment process by bringing in Project IT.
With Project IT, Wellstead laid out the critical issues for the recruitment process. These included ensuring that Project IT knew how to articulate the “employee experience” and how to support the value proposition of joining SpinVox,
Wellstead was also carful to ensure that Project IT knew how SpinVox wanted to be represented in the marketplace. “Mass recruitment often is the most powerful one-on-one marketing tool available to a young company” he said.
An important part of the brief was also to deliver a scalable programme to reduce the overall cost of hiring. This was been done by introducing an internal referral programme and driving direct applications through www.spinvox.com/careers.
Another key element was competency-based interview training. This ensured that all hiring managers followed the correct guidelines for selection. This resulted in a better quality of hire and in streamlining the process overall.
Project IT, for its part, made sure it was embedded in the Spinvox operation. Nick Boothroyd, Managing Director of Project IT Resource said this approach allowed it to deliver “significantly more benefit” than a traditional recruitment arrangement.
“Working onsite with the client enables the ‘partner’ to become fully integrated within the client culture and to ‘go native’,” he said.
Building close relationships with hiring managers allowed Project IT to really understand how to promote it to candidates as an employer of choice.
“Treat your provider as an extension to your in house HR function and you will reap the rewards – keep it at arms length and the value diminishes,” said Boothroyd.
In any large scale recruitment process there is the danger of different standard and duplication of effort in any large scale recruitment process. “By bringing the whole operation under one automated system we avoid this problem and can be certain that legislation is complied with,” said Boothroyd. “In addition, it means that the whole process is more efficient, and the hiring managers are getting to spend more time with quality candidates.”
For Spinvox there were very few downsides to outsourcing recruitment in this way. One mentioned by Wellstead was a concern about visibility. To overcome that the two organisations met weekly to evaluate progress and agree on how to solve challenges.
“The most important gauge, however, is the satisfaction of my internal customers – the hiring managers. If they aren’t happy, then nobody is happy,” he said.
The final metrics though speak for themselves. “There has been a 20 per cent decrease in the overall cost of hire since we started working with Project IT, as well as a reduction in the time to hire to below 30 days,” said Wellstead. Furthermore, our retention levels have improved.
The outsourcing project is proving to be a big success. Project IT Resource is very much a part of our team and we have worked closely together to develop processes and systems that suit our business and meet our aims.”