Outsourcing and the ‘Hotel California’ Approach to Talent Management
The first generation of recruitment outsourcing concentrated on doing exactly what it says on the tin – taking over the responsibility of sourcing new staff from the external market. And in most instances the best players in the sector achieved the targets set for them by their clients and everyone patted themselves for coming up with such a clever idea and for a job well done.
But the world moves on.
What seemed like a near perfect model in the 1980s and 1990s now looks as dated as a Spandau Ballet LP or a Madchester t-shirt. Today the focus is no longer just on making recruitment processes cheaper or more efficient, but on the whole spectrum of talent management. And that means, not just sourcing the very best new talent for organisations, but also developing and sustaining productive relationships with individuals, who have already worked for them, but have moved on to pastures new.
Research across the Ochre House Network, an extended think-tank, which is made up of over 650 major employers including GE, Kimberley-Clark, Lilly, Microsoft and United Biscuits found as many as four out of every five leavers would consider working for their employers again. But very few businesses have established effective systems for tracking and bringing back the best people.
At its latest meeting the think-tank concluded that an employee’s resignation and departure should be regarded as a natural and possibly temporary process rather than as a cut-off point. Organisations should be thinking in what were described as ‘Hotel California’ terms – “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Delegates cited Johnson & Johnson’s ‘boomerang’ scheme and Astra Zeneca’s open door policy as prime examples of this thinking put into practice.
It seems that too many employers seem to see resignation as the end rather than the beginning. Yet it’s much more realistic and productive to accept that it’s natural for the best people to explore new career opportunities, but can often be enticed back through ‘keep in touch’ programmes, perhaps even more skilled and able than when they left. The key to success seems to lie in a clear allocation of responsibility for such programmes and a commitment to regular, relevant, but nor intrusive contact. But so far, few companies have succeeded in building this elastic talent pipeline. And, in my view, it’s down to outsourcing partners to ensure that such pipelines stop being an aspiration and turn into a concrete reality.
Helena Parry is a director at recruitment outsourcing and talent management specialist, Ochre House.