In a recent meeting among RPO leaders at an event hosted by the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association, the conversation turned to the high-stakes environment surrounding talent acquisition today. The group agreed that it was of utmost importance to be supportive of the recruiters that are supporting the ever-increasing workload and demand caused by today’s tight talent market.
In the conversation, several key ideas came to light that can serve not just as support for your recruiting teams, but as performance enablers in today’s challenging environment. If you are an RPO leader, these are critical if you want to engage and retain your most valuable internal talent.
1. Shield them from client interactions and frustrations
We all know that it’s harder to find talent today than ever before. That leads to rising tension and frustration for many clients. The words to describe these behaviors range from “aggressive” to simply “mean.”
But one company has figured out a way to solve for this. The leader mentioned that they have brought on individuals with project management skills to serve as intermediaries between recruiters and corporate leaders.
This process or approach allows the recruiters to spend their valuable time on sourcing and screening talent, not on reporting progress. It also offers a way to shield them from the inevitable frustrations caused by the tight market today. While it seems strange to think that we have to run interference for our recruiters so they can do their jobs, the truth is the market is creating some strange conditions, and we need to think outside the box.
2. Develop their capabilities, even outside of recruiting
Another RPO delivery leader mentioned training as a key element of keeping their staff engaged. The topics may vary, but the end goal should be to give them more skills and tools to deal with their everyday discussions in a more manageable way.
In a separate conversation, I learned about a talent acquisition outsourcing firm that brought on a consultant focused on charisma and communication skills to help train recruiters how to influence and persuade, both critical capabilities that great recruiters have.
Why does this matter? It’s more than just building skills--88% of workers in our research say they would stay at a job if they had development and career opportunities.
On a related note, we know from established research that developing early talent into professional roles can help to establish sticky relationships over the long term, so there are many ways this development piece can come into play.
3. Pay them more (yes, really)
One example provided by a member of the group pointed out a recruiter whose total compensation more than doubled upon accepting an offer from an enterprise tech company.
While you may not have the budget to give them that kind of increase, they are going to increasingly see offers coming their way. Psychologically, the bigger the pay gap, the harder it is to turn down. Stories abound of recruiters dropping their current role with just a day’s notice because some of the pay raises are so significant that they are willing to burn a bridge.
Part of this problem is driven by the never-before-seen demand for talent. Part of this is driven by recruiting firms poaching recruiters. And part of this is driven by tech companies with significant cash-making offers that we would have never before expected to see. Whatever the case, taking a fresh look at compensation can help.
If you want to avoid being locked into rates that you can’t sustain, variable compensation and bonuses offer a little more flexibility, but in the end there’s enough demand in the marketplace right now to drive salary inflation for recruiters to new heights.
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4. Let them speak up
One RPO executive shared her strategy for keeping her team, which was setting aside a dedicated portion of her calendar to meet one on one virtually with each individual to ask them questions about what they need, how things are going, and how she can help them.
This is essentially what is called a “stay interview” in HR circles, but it’s done on a regular basis to ensure that someone with the authority to make decisions, remove barriers, or offer support is plugged directly into the recruiting talent on the front line.
This may sound like a major time commitment. That’s because it is. But the return is an emotional investment from your people. This isn’t about just setting up a meeting--you have to genuinely care. But if done properly, you may head off issues before they become major problems. You’ll also make it much harder for an outside offer to gain a foothold if you’re providing a safe space and direct access to key leadership.
The Bottom Line
Is this list foolproof? Absolutely not. But, can it lead to better performance and retention than if you leave these things to chance? If you were managing a sports team and your grueling schedule was causing the team members to become injured and burnt out, wouldn’t you pull back on the pace or put some things in place to support their mental and physical health?
This is no different. You may not have full control over the working environment, conditions, or market demand, but you do have the opportunity to use these strategic levers to create stronger bonds with your recruiting team. Your organization’s performance depends on it.
About the author. Ben Eubanks is an analyst, international speaker, author, and podcaster. He leads the research agenda as the Chief Research Officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, providing insights for today’s talent leaders and vendor partners. His book, Artificial Intelligence for HR, was published in 2018 and was highlighted as the #1 New and Noteworthy HR Books on Amazon. He has experience running the HR and talent function in the trenches and brings a practical perspective to his approach. Ben has worked with business leaders from notable organizations such as Southwest Airlines, Intel, Cox Enterprises, Delta, and AlliedUniversal in his role as the host of We’re Only Human, a podcast focused on the intersection of people, technology, and the workplace. In addition, he founded and operates upstartHR.com, a community for HR leaders that has served more than one million readers since its inception.