RPO: The importance of cultural fit

4 min read

Process and cultural alignment are the yin and yang of RPO: for ultimate performance, both must be in harmony.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) can be complex and its definition can vary, however, in short it can be described as the outsourcing or transfer of all or part of a company’s recruitment processes to an external service provider.

While the basic expectation is that an RPO service provider will help a client to find and recruit suitable candidates for particular roles, it’s crucial to remember that a suitable candidate may not always be the best fit for every organisation. Therefore, the essential dimension of every RPO programme should always be infrastructure, technology and processes aimed at identifying professionals who are fully aligned with the client’s corporate culture and values.

To be able to recruit candidates who are the best cultural fit for the client’s company, the RPO provider must be meticulous in understanding this organisation’s needs, values and culture. The team working on each RPO project must have an appreciation of the uniqueness of each organisation as each member of the RPO team should strive to fully understand the corporate culture of their client.


The 4 Pillars of RPO Success 

As mentioned, every company and its HR or TA function has different characteristics, values and needs. The awareness of those is at the core of every successful RPO programme. There are 4 streams (or building blocks) that constitute a well-executed RPO project and the client’s corporate culture should be reflected in each of those.


1. Recruitment Process Management

The first pillar involves assembling a high quality dedicated onsite team to coordinate and drive the recruitment process. It is up to each and every member of the onsite team to clearly understand the values of the company they recruit for as if it was their own employer.

Having an onsite team has numerous benefits including minimising the company’s reliance on agency sourced candidates, cutting time to hire and reducing cost of hiring. But the major advantage of having an onsite team as opposed to using traditional recruitment agency is that it allows the hiring organisation to maintain and express their brand, values and culture from the beginning to the end of the entire recruitment process. Recruitment here is as much branding as it is an HR exercise.

2. Sourcing and Employment Marketing

This pillar or stream is closely linked to the previous as RPO provides an opportunity to promote your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) during recruitment process.

This is consistently communicated across all channels from core web recruitment platforms to more sophisticated and niche places and avenues. Creative development, messaging, digital strategy and social media are often strong elements of employment marketing that can be executed by an RPO team further communicating the employer brand. In other words, the organisation’s brand equity is enhanced through quality and consistency across all media during sourcing.

3. Screening & Assessment

While assessing applicants, RPO teams diligently follow processes that were designed specifically for and approved by each client. The interview guides, rating scales and templates are all tailored to reflect the company’s culture and strictly follow during screening and assessment. Online assessment tools introduce even greater rigour into the screening and selection process.

For instance, for high volume roles such as customer service, the emphasis can be on understanding current processes and leveraging assessment centre design methodologies to select the best candidates in the most cost and time effective manner. By contrast, the recruitment of niche professionals with rare skills might call for a high touch and much more sophisticated approach.

4. Client Services, Technology and Implementation

Finally, every single RPO programme has their own dedicated client services and operations management teams that can provide the support on a daily basis. The RPO provider delivers the service transparently, with full accountability and within an agreed framework. This means that that the client has a full overview of the entire and each parts of the process and can raise any issues or requests that would be heard and addressed by their dedicated team straight away. This is especially important for companies that wish to monitor the process, tailor it further or better understand the impact of their employer brand on each stage of the recruitment process.


The Yin and Yang of Progressive RPO

Within this framework, RPO solutions are as diverse as the hiring organisations that engage an RPO service provider: these can range from placing scores of support staff within a narrow timeframe to identifying people who combine unique skill-sets with hard-to-find languages. Hard knowledge of markets and specialist professional disciplines, combined with the softer skills that are required to present the very best of your brand – this is the yin and yang of progressive RPO.


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