Saint-Gobain’s talent strategy: blend RPO with an in-house team

If you could avoid paying for extra headcount when times are lean, or when hiring volumes are down, would you?

For many HR leaders, the answer would be yes, of course.

Jared Massey, operations director

Jared Massey, Hudson RPO operations manager, talks about the advantages of a blended recruitment model.

The leaders of manufacturing giant Saint-Gobain are among those who have chosen to mitigate that risk. They’ve put in place a blended RPO / in-house recruitment model, selecting Hudson RPO as their partner.

“Because we can flex up and down, we can build them an in-house team which they can’t get headcount for,” says Jared Massey, Hudson RPO operations manager serving the Saint-Gobain account.

“For many companies, it can be very difficult to get extra headcount on an urgent basis,” Jared explains.

“If they all of a sudden get busy, most companies will have a short-term or long-term plan that has been agreed, and it becomes virtually impossible to get sign-off beyond that agreement. When you work with an RPO, the risk is on the RPO to take on extra headcount when required.”

The Saint-Gobain partnership is based on adding value to the in-house operation.

Jared explains: “They’ve got an in-house team, and we’re an advancement of that. We essentially provide an in-house team on top of their internal recruitment team.”

 

Building long-term capacity from a blended model

Prior to Hudson RPO entering the scene, Saint-Gobain took a different approach with another RPO vendor: A role would come through to the in-house team. They would try to fill it. When they couldn’t, they then gave it to the RPO team, who had one week to fill the vacancy. If they couldn’t, the role went out to an agency.

But the arrangement didn’t perform well enough, so Saint-Gobain appointed Hudson RPO.

The understanding shared by both partners is that all recruitment functions can be brought in-house within two years.

Jared says: “Once we build the optimal systems and processes for them, they plan to bring it all in-house. That’s the beauty of a blended recruitment model.

“From D&I, to recruitment technology, and beyond, the right RPO partner offers best-practice expertise across the recruitment spectrum. Our recruiters are poised to pass this knowledge and capability to the in-house team. Being embedded — sitting alongside your counterpart and sharing experiences, knowledge, and resources — is an invaluable opportunity for blended-model clients.”

 

Designing a value-added RPO partnership

Before Saint-Gobain pursued the RPO route, internal recruiters would be tasked with filling a set number of roles per year. They would deal with some of those roles, while others, such as HR vacancies, went to agencies.

Now that the partnership is in place, Hudson RPO fills as many roles as requested at any given time.

“In addition to roles that would have previously been delegated to agency,” Jared says, “we can also deal with peaks and troughs, freeing their in-house recruiters to focus on other key initiatives.”

He explains: “For them, it can work in two ways. First, it means that their current in-house team can get involved in more initiatives, because we’re taking care of a range of time-consuming tasks in the background. Second, we can also provide specialist expertise which they may lack, for example around HR technology, developing an employer value proposition, or building a graduate scheme.”

 

Delegating work between in-house and RPO

While Saint-Gobain operate a fluid model, the in-house team tends to look after filling easier placements, such as internal roles.

“Apart from in-house roles, everything else tends to come into their in-house recruiters or our in-house team,” Jared says. “Generally, the more difficult roles come to us.”

Hudson RPO collect and process data around hiring demand. With enough data, the team will be able to advise on which roles should be handled by either team.

In the blended talent model, Hudson RPO fills manufacturing and specialist roles.

In the blended model, Hudson RPO fills key roles.

“Once we build the right systems and processes for them,” Jared says, “they plan to bring it all in-house.”

The role types currently filled by Hudson RPO include many within manufacturing, such as:

  • Engineering
  • Production
  • Quality
  • Mining and other specialist roles within the UK

The teams also recruit for central services, including:

  • Marketing
  • Procurement
  • Finance
  • Sales
  • Customer service

 

Building trust in the RPO with clear communications

Hudson RPO currently supplies three recruiters on-site, and one off-site. They are all branded as Saint-Gobain.

From the start, Jared says, “the communications needed to be absolutely right.”

He explains: “In all contexts, but certainly blended environments, we’re not there to threaten the essential roles of in-house recruiters — we’re there to help.”

Across the business, Jared says, Saint-Gobain employees understand the purpose of the partnership and have bought into the concept.

Saint-Gobain’s financial model also supports the spirit of partnership. Jared explains: “Because the costs of their recruitment are all centrally costed within Saint-Gobain, outsourcing a role doesn’t cost their team any more than filling it in-house. Whether you look at it with a focus on finance, or the way in which it adds value to their HR team and in-house recruiters, the blended arrangement is designed to propel Saint-Gobain to the next stage of talent acquisition maturity.”

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