Employment & Economic Trends


Global Economic Snapshot: December 2019


Uncertain Times & an Uneven Economic Landscape

The closing months of 2019 brought to a close a decade of strong economic growth and robust labor markets for many of the world’s leading economies. However, the disruption caused by trade disputes and uncertainties have produced the first signals that this long period of sustained expansion may be coming to an end. Among the unresolved issues that continue to affect the global economy are:

  • The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which was negotiated to replace NAFTA, has yet to be ratified by the legislature of all three nations.
  • The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, continues and may continue into 2020.
  • Uncertainty over Brexit continued until the UK election on December 12, which very likely cleared the way for its departure from the European Union. Even with a firm Brexit date, a final trade agreement with the European Union has yet to be completed, and negotiations will be closely watched.

While job growth continued unabated in many key economies, the growth came at a slower pace than in 2018. Some of the most developed economies saw the period of sustained job growth halted and some unemployment rates began to climb. In addition to trade uncertainty, political upheaval and natural disasters also had negative effects on important economies in far-flung parts of the world.

Slowing Job Gains & Job Losses Materialize

The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in November and posted an unemployment rate of 3.5%. November’s results capped 110 months of continuous job growth, the longest period of sustained expansion in the nation’s history. The year began with an unemployment rate of 4% in January, which was the highest level all year. After hitting a half-century low of 3.5% in September, the unemployment rate rose slightly in October, only to come down to tie the 50 year record level of 3.5%. While job openings steadily decreased to approximately 7 million, this level of openings was still larger than the number of unemployed Americans.

Additionally, the average monthly job growth improved to 180,000 per month in the 12 months leading up to November 2019. However, at the same time, in 2018, the monthly average of jobs created was 223,000. So, while the job market was expanding, it did so at a slower pace than it did in 2018. The sectors that lost some jobs or grew at an anemic rate include manufacturing and retail. And, while manufacturing was disrupted by strikes and ongoing trade disputes, the diminishing jobs in retail were largely caused by the growth in online shopping, which has brought about a so-called “retail apocalypse” in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Canada’s employment numbers were positive in much of the first half of the year and grew worse as the year wore on. After losing less than 2,000 positions in October, Canada’s economy shed 71,200 openings in a single month in November. While more than half of those (45,000) were lost in Quebec, other provinces also lost jobs and none had any notable job gains. Canada’s unemployment jumped 0.4% in November alone, reaching 5.9%. From a national perspective, the weak job outlook was not confined to manufacturing and retail as it was in the U.S.; although these were certainly weak in Canada, as well, it also extended to most major sectors of Canada’s economy.

In Europe, the economic landscape was mixed, with most major markets posting low unemployment rates that varied little from earlier in the year. In the UK, 58,000 jobs were lost in the quarter ending in September 2019. This was the second consecutive report with posted job losses, many of which analysts blamed on the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. However, the quarter ending in October showed a modest job increase of 24,000 positions, pushing employment to its highest level ever. Yet, even in the months when employment fell, the unemployment rate also dropped to a low 3.8%, which held steady in the August through October quarter; the UK unemployment rate has not been lower since 1974, well before the living memory of much of the UK workforce. And, while the results of the December national election opened the path for a departure from the European Union in early 2020, provisions of an eventual trade agreement between the UK and the EU remain to be seen.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Eurozone’s unemployment rate was 7.5% in October, the same as it was in June, but 0.3% lower than it was at the end of the first quarter. France posted an unemployment rate of 8.5%, falling from 8.7% in June, while Germany’s low unemployment rate of 3.1% in October was unchanged from its level in June.

In the Asia-Pacific region, unemployment rates rose in some leading economies, but only to relatively low levels. During the third quarter, China reported an unemployment rate of 3.6%, a full percentage point higher than in the second quarter. Japan’s rate rose just 0.1% from June to October, landing at 2.4%. After experiencing considerable unrest, Hong Kong’s unemployment rate rose to 3.1% in October – from just 2.8% in June. And, in contrast with the rise in unemployment in other Asian powerhouses, South Korea’s unemployment rate fell an entire percentage point from June to October, ending at 3%. India also had a drop in unemployment, falling 0.4% since June, to 7.5%.

The Oceania economies also posted mixed unemployment numbers. Australian unemployment was just 4.9% in February, an eight-year low, but it has been higher ever since, rising to 5.3% in October. New Zealand reported that its unemployment rate had fallen to 3.9% in the second quarter of this year – down from 4.3% at the end of 2018 – but then rose to 4.2% in the third quarter.

Wage Increases Outpace Inflation

Annual wages have continued to grow faster than the rate of inflation in most leading economies. The U.S. annual wage increases stood at 3.1% in November, coupled with an inflation rate of less than 2% in the third quarter. In the UK, nominal annual wages rose 3.5% in the quarter spanning August through October, which was also comfortably ahead of inflation. During the same period last year, nominal wages increased 3.3% annually, and the unemployment rate was 0.3% higher. Both the U.S. and UK posted higher annual wage gains earlier in the year, but the increases were not substantial relative to the tight labor markets in each country during much of the year. There is no clear consensus among economists as to why wages have not risen faster during the current sustained period of low unemployment.

In Canada, annual wage gains fluctuated sharply during 2019; in May, they were just 2.1%, rising in July to 4.6%, but falling to 3.8% in September before landing back at 4.5% in November. This rising rate of wage increases came during the same month that Canada experienced its greatest job loss since the financial crisis.

Australia instituted the highest minimum wage law in the world on July 1, 2019, but annual wage growth continued to be sluggish; year-over-year wage growth fell to just 2.2% in November, and Australian wage increases have been stagnant for some time. The last time the annual rate of increase was just 1% higher was in late 2012. And, without the robust minimum wage introduced earlier this year, wages could have potentially grown even more slowly. With unemployment above 5% for most of the year, analysts are not predicting significant wage gains until the labor market improves.

Political Unrest & Devestating Fires

Massive street demonstrations erupted in Hong Kong and in capitals around Latin America during the closing months of 2019, leading to significant economic costs. The capitals of Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador were roiled by anti-government protests. Specifically, Chile – which is considered by many to be an economic success story – had a 3.4% annual retraction in its economy in October, which was triggered by its civil unrest. As a result, the government agreed to a referendum to replace the constitution, and announced plans for a $5.5 billion economic stimulus package.

Similarly, protests in Hong Kong intensified after months of ongoing demonstrations and led to a shutdown of the city’s airport; traffic was also disrupted and major thoroughfares turned into sites of violent confrontations. The effects of the protests on Hong Kong’s economy have been devastating. In the retail sector alone, 7,000 firms are expected to close, and many of those that survive plan to lay off employees. Moreover, the government is forecasting a contraction of 1.3% for Hong Kong’s economy in 2019 – the first annual decline since the Great Recession in 2009.

Furthermore, powerful wildfires broke out in both California and Australia, causing extensive destruction and exacting economic costs in their respective economies. Workers in Sydney and other areas close to the fires struggled with smoke-filled air and, consequently, concerns for their personal health and safety. Meanwhile, in California, fires changed the landscapes of entire communities, and power was regularly cut off as a preventive measure to keep the fires from spreading. The relentless threat of new wildfires and the intensity of the destruction of this year’s infernos have led some to conclude that the seemingly endless potential for prosperity in the nation’s largest state is over, and that this is the end of California as we know it. The fires in both places led to dislocations and business interruptions. While political unrest will inevitably fluctuate and appear in different locations around the world, destructive fires in both the western U.S. and Australia have become the new normal, and will likely continue to be a factor in the affected regions in the years to come.


Key Takeaways

  • Where job growth is continuing, it is doing so at a slower pace than in the recent past. Job losses caused by trade uncertainty, tariffs and evolving economic sectors are beginning to emerge
  • Wage growth continues to outpace inflation, and the rate of growth varies widely among leading economies. Unfortunately, the sustained period of low unemployment has not produced the dramatic wage increases expected by some economists.
  • Political unrest has harmed some previously robust economies. Extensive wildfires caused significant damage in both the U.S. and Australia, and could continue to be a challenge to the economic health of both nations.

Three Economic Trends That Will Affect Talent Acquisition in 2020

Client Portfolio Leader

Every talent acquisition professional is kind of an economic expert. In the process of filling positions, you become aware of local unemployment levels, current rates of compensation, and the competitive landscape in the sectors and markets in which you work. And, while understanding these specific conditions may be essential aspects of successful talent strategies, there are always larger economic forces at work. Understanding these economic trends can help develop an effective workforce strategy. To illustrate this point, PeopleScout has identified three economic trends that will affect talent acquisition and workforce management in 2020 – and potential ways to respond to the challenges and opportunities they bring.

Trade Disruption & Uncertainty

Uncertainty over trade due to Brexit, ongoing trade disputes between the U.S. and key trading partners, and other global commerce issues dominated the headlines in 2019. How will these yet-to-be-resolved issues affect talent acquisition?

Flexible Workforce Planning

Imagine planning a budget without knowing the future costs of goods and services. Due to current uncertainty over trade, this is the dilemma that many enterprises are facing. The imposition of tariffs in the U.S.-China trade dispute has caused shifts in both the price and availability of products, according to The New York Times. Uncertainty remains over what will happen with Brexit – and what the consequences will be on nearly every aspect of the UK economy and other nations. One way to respond to uncertainty is to make flexibility a key component in workforce planning. Flexible workforce planning can include contingent staffing, sourcing strategies that promote rapid onboarding and employee cross-training in anticipation of potential downsizing.

Sourcing Candidates from Alternative Talent Pools

While low unemployment still characterizes many of the world’s leading economies, trade disruption has also led to some job losses and displacement. For example, in Great Britain, a number of companies have closed, moved or are planning to, as reported by Metro in the UK. In both the U.S. and the UK, the manufacturing sector has seen job losses due to tariffs and trade uncertainty. Fortunately, many of those who work in manufacturing possess transferrable skills that can be used in other industries. Employers that can identify and attract this newly available source of talent will have a competitive advantage in tight labor markets.

The Migrant Work & Shifting Talent Landscape

The era of growing immigration to many advanced economies has been disrupted. The Guardian reports that thousands of European Union nationals have left the UK since the 2016 Brexit referendum, in large part due to the uncertainty over their legal status after an eventual exit from the EU. And, in the U.S., a tightening of available visas and selective immigration bans have caused the number of legal immigrants to plummet. On the other hand, 29% of Australia’s population is foreign-born, but the economic growth in many Asian countries – the source of much of Australia’s immigrant population – has contributed to its decline in net migration in recent years.

Know the Affected Sectors

One important way for employers to respond to changing immigration patterns is to know which jobs are most affected and to plan accordingly. The reality is that immigrants comprise a significant portion of workers in a range of sectors. For example, nearly one-third of hotel workers in the U.S. are immigrants, and more than one in 10 healthcare workers in the UK are non-British nationals (half of these are from the EU), according to the Office for National Statistics. Understanding the sectors and markets that are affected by the falling rates of available talent from abroad may play an increasingly important role in developing effective talent acquisition strategies.

Talent Without Borders

The pool of available talent is exponentially expanded when work can be done outside of a fixed location. Advances in technology and communications have greatly reduced the need for many processes to take place in brick-and-mortar workplaces. For this reason, recruitment strategies may increasingly include a review of job descriptions to determine which positions can work from virtual locations, including those that are abroad. By doing so, employers can move beyond the constraints of limited talent pools and the wage pressures that tight labor markets generate.

OK, Boomer?

According to Glassdoor’s Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, baby boomers, born between 1944 and 1964, are now the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. workforce. Dr. Chamberlain notes that, “A ‘gray wave’ of senior citizens will be impacting the workforce in coming years, both in the United States and the United Kingdom.” In Canada, the percentage of workers aged 55 and older more than doubled in a little more than two decades; they are now more than one in five of all Canadian workers. Similarly, the number of Australians aged 65 and older who participated in the workforce in 2018 was 13%, compared to only 8% in 2006. And, in New Zealand, 22% of retirement-age people worked in 2016, an 87% increase in just 10 years.

Candidates with a Silver Lining

Given these striking statistics, an increasing number of applications from older candidates should be expected. In addition to the talent that these older candidates bring in their own right, they also help employers adopt a holistic approach to upskilling.

Take the case of a recent college graduate who has strong technical skills, but lacks industry knowledge and even critical soft skills, such as effective communication. These deficiencies can be offset by pairing this new hire with a seasoned industry veteran. The ensuing mentoring can go both ways; a tech-savvy new hire can help an older worker who may be challenged in this area, while the seasoned worker can guide and instruct the younger employee on important industry knowledge and work skills. This symbiotic pairing can also become an important element in an enterprise’s succession planning strategy.

Partnering for Success

Responding to economic trends can be daunting for those under constant pressure to fill positions and manage talent. However, tracking newly available workers due to shifting tariffs and treaties, knowing how to find candidates in unknown and far-flung locations, and navigating the process of recruiting from a broad range of age groups may seem overwhelming to even the best-equipped team of talent professionals. This is precisely why leveraging the expertise and resources of a talent acquisition partner can be the deciding factor for success in a complex and rapidly changing economic environment.


Key Takeaways

  • Trade uncertainty and disruption has increased the importance of flexible staffing solutions due to potentially rapidly shifting talent demands. Talent acquisition professionals need to be aware of what is affecting their sectors and markets, and develop their acquisition programs to include sourcing newly available workers – many of whom may have transferrable skills.
  • The diminishing availability of foreign-born talent is presenting a talent acquisition challenge in many key industries. Workforce planning and recruitment strategies should factor in the changing levels of available workers from overseas and include creative approaches, such as offshoring and virtual offices.

  • Employers should prepare for an increasing number of older workers as applicants and new employees in 2020. Integrating older workers can be valuable for expanding the industry knowledge base in an organization, enhancing the development of younger employees and aiding in succession planning.

Global Deployment: Is Your Talent Program Ready for the World Stage?

Global Vice President of Services Implementation

The shift toward global expansion is top of mind in many of today’s organizations, and for good reason: going global brings opportunities that may otherwise go untapped – such as new revenue sources, cultural diversification, economies of scale and greater access to talent. So, as your talent program grows, you may be considering expanding beyond your current borders.

Similar to traveling internationally, there are many steps to taking your business global. As you plan for a trip abroad, you may make a packing checklist, get your passport and prepare accommodations. There’s anticipation as you near your trip date, and even some nerves as you take flight. You don’t quite know what to expect, but you’re excited about the possibilities of what you’ll discover. After an invigorating visit, you recount your trip and replay all you’ve experienced – good and bad. Global deployments are similar, and in this article, we’ll outline factors to consider throughout the different stages of implementation.

Choosing Your Deployment Type

The first item on any traveler’s checklist is determining where to go. When it comes to global implementations, get a good handle on the location or locations you’ll be expanding into before taking off. After considering talent supply, cultural nuances and how easy (or difficult!) it is to do business in a certain location, selecting a deployment type should be straightforward.

There are two main types of global deployments:

  • “Big Bang” Approach: If you opt for this method, you’ll be launching all operations at one time on a singular date. This might be the choice for you if the main goal is compliance to global policies and procedures that align with a specific set of dates and standards.
  • Phased Approach: This type of deployment favors a slower rollout of operations over time – which might be helpful for first-generation managed service provider (MSP), recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) or total workforce solutions programs that you want your organization to ease into.

Factors to Consider

After choosing a travel destination, you’ll start looking into the details of the location you’re visiting. What’s the weather like? What language do people speak? Where are the best food spots in town? In essence, seemingly small aspects tend to have large effects on the success of your trip. Likewise, once you’ve taken all of the initial expansion considerations into account, you’re better equipped to further assess pivotal factors that will greatly influence the success of the overall deployment, including the following significant global and local influencers:

Key Stakeholder Identification & Support Capacity

It’s crucial to align organizational expansion plans with regional cultural norms and any specific local nuances. For example, when initially organizing the details, are there any types of communication styles that are considered rude or offensive? This is crucial to ascertain for positive program adoption from the start. Also, be sure to frame that local focus to stakeholders, as opposed to communicating a message that essentially states that a new program will be laid over local operations. Stress the fact that you’ll be interweaving existing operations with new features and benefits to ensure maximum success for the program and all involved.

Additionally, focus on ensuring that all voices are heard – from local teams to individual hiring managers – to avoid any passive resistance; you’ll want to fully understand how people work in that particular location and what day-to-day norms mean to ensure the success of the program. Try putting yourself in the shoes of the end-user; a seemingly simple concept like shadowing can go a long way in showing the local constituency that you’re invested in the success of the program at their specific location.

Availability of Talent

We’re currently seeing low unemployment rates, paired with skills shortages, across the globe — a trend we haven’t consistently seen in the past. Because of this, consider shifting focus to soft skills when it comes to assessing the talent landscape in a given region. This means concentrating on skills like critical thinking, problem solving and adaptability to new environments. Whether introducing a new industry to the area or not, carefully decipher what the competition for talent looks like — from there, you can start developing a well-thought-out sourcing plan to align the resources necessary for a successful deployment.

Change Management

When done right, change management can have the greatest effect on deployment success. A critical component of managing change in global implementations is gaining buy-in from key, local stakeholders. Then, you can depend on these stakeholders to translate (literally and figuratively), the feedback needed to take into consideration.

Another vital part of managing change is ensuring the right amount of frequency to ensure consistent alignment. Rather than one initial message followed by months of silence leading up to the “go-live” communication, consider a layering approach. Keep communications frequent, consistent, and to the point to get people excited about what’s coming and interested in what the changes mean for them.

And, as important as it is to keep communication consistent as you prepare for launch, it’s just as critical post-launch. Reinforce the benefits people should be seeing, ensuring everyone is comfortable with the changes and collecting feedback around any training or functionality that may need revisiting. A high level of communication and comfort translates into successful program adoption.

Technology Readiness

When it comes to talent technology, several different factors need to be considered. For an MSP program, the main component is the vendor management system (VMS). Along the same lines, with an RPO program, you’ll be focused on the applicant tracking system (ATS) and any other systems that may need to be integrated for either or both. Similar systems may be utilized across an organization with varying local versions, so it’s important to understand what consistencies exist, as well as gaps that need to be addressed.

Ensure the pros and cons are carefully weighed across the systems the technology will interface with, then try to choose one as a “source of truth” for compliance, data validation and data integrity. In doing so, you’ll see consistency across the talent technology, giving you a true, holistic view of the workforce when it comes to analytics and reporting.

Finance & Tax

What’s important here – and heavily dependent upon the workforce population at hand – is ensuring that there is clear visibility and guidance around cross-border implications, such as supplier and provider payments, global and statutory requirements, or arrangements in which a hiring manager sits in a different location than the resource. This becomes especially important when there is an integration with an invoicing system and effects on back-office operations.

Stages of Launch

After months of preparation, you’re finally leaving for your much-anticipated trip. You just have to check in to your flight, print your boarding pass and you’re on your way! After a two-week experience you’ll never forget, you return home to tell your friends and family every detail of your getaway (even down to the hotel mishap on night three). Your global deployment will go through similar stages, as outlined below.


At the pre-launch stage, all stakeholders should have a good working knowledge of what’s coming and when, and you should have a good sense of how everyone is feeling. Are people comfortable with what’s coming? Are they ready for it? What needs to be adjusted now based on the feedback collected?

Ensure that all technology components are operating as planned, and that enough time has been dedicated to testing different scenarios that will be realized upon launch. The quickest way to do this is by running through predetermined scripts and observing how the technology responds. If time allows, some organizations also subscribe to a “break the system” approach by trying out every possible or one-off scenario – including erroneous field data – to assess the outcome. While this takes more time, it also tends to be the most thorough, especially if multiple technologies are at play.

Successful Launch

When it comes to executing a successful launch, the biggest components are represented above. As you progress in the implementation, it’s wise to consistently refine change management, calibrate resource alignment and pivot as needed, so as not to lose momentum as progress is made. Remember to share successes along the way, and not to lose sight of the overall goals of the program.

Furthermore, whether you’re evolving your program or expanding into additional locations, consider the overall maturity of the market and generation of the program you’re launching. For instance, if this is a second-generation program, what do you need to consider from the first launch and potentially change? It’s also important to communicate the fact that unexpected issues may arise and, if they do, it’s critical to address these obstacles transparently.

Post Launch

Once the program expansion has launched, consider the following recommendations:

  • Dedicate time to complete a thorough audit: Assess how well the goals were met, taking into account that they may have changed over time.
  • Schedule a “lessons learned” meeting: Identify and capitalize on best practices acquired throughout the launch.
  • Check in at all levels of the operation: Work to understand what is and isn’t working.

As data starts coming in regularly, analyze for trends that may not have been visible before to determine any adjustments that need to be made related to resources, processes or technology.

After any trip, you spend some time at home reliving the experience and getting reassimilated with your day-to-day life. You think about what you did and didn’t like, go over what you learned, and naturally decide whether you want to take another trip. Maybe the destination was so great that you want to go back, or perhaps you’re ready for something new. Global implementations are similar, and whether you’ve met your needs with one deployment or are planning for further expansion, the right talent partner can help take you there.

Finding the Right Partner

Choosing a partner to help you through your global deployment is like choosing an airline. Are they reputable? Dependable? Can they get you where you need to be? Most important, can you trust them with your bags? When you’re looking into viable partners to work with for your implementation, ask yourself:

  • Do they align with our business needs?
  • Will they deliver value across every level of the organization?
  • Are they flexible?
  • Do they have any proven standards?
  • Do they have the ability and experience to tailor operations as needed?

Don’t be shy about asking your potential talent partner to prove their value. Request case studies and demonstrated expertise that illustrates that they have the experience you’re looking for. Finding a partner that is a good fit for your organization is a huge undertaking and you want to make sure you get it right. You’ll likely be working with them for a long period of time, and the success of your implementation will depend on the strength of your relationship and the trust you have in your partner.

Wondering if your talent program is ready for the world-stage? Check out this article’s accompanying webinar at peoplescout.com/webinars.


Key Takeaways

  • Choosing an initial location and deployment type will depend on what makes the most sense for your business’ goals and needs.
  • There are a variety of factors to consider when it comes to planning out the details of your implementation. Take special care to master communication surrounding change and technology.
  • There are best practices at each stage of a global launch. Remember to be transparent with team members throughout the process and lean on your partner when facing obstacles.

Managing Change During an RPO Implementation: What to Expect in the First 120 Days & Beyond

Client Delivery Leader

Change is hard. It’s frustrating. It comes with pain points and, at times, a feeling of giving up. But, despite all its challenges, change also brings innumerable benefits. Simply put, if you want to improve, you need to be open to change.

So, when it comes to implementing a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) program, it’s important to remember that no transition will be seamless. RPO transitions come with changes, both minor and foundational, that will present new challenges each day during an implementation. While this might seem daunting at first, know that these challenges come with a predictable and manageable pattern; the best way to approach change during an RPO implementation is with the knowledge of what to expect and how to succeed in the face of obstacles that appear along the way.


It’s no secret that people are going to be hesitant when it comes to change – especially when that change is likely to affect their day-to-day routine. To address this hesitation, it’s important to get everyone on the same page, consider stakeholder effects and educate people on what they should plan for once the implementation begins.

Some stakeholders will be early adopters who are hungry for change; utilize them as ambassadors for the new process. Others will be resistant, and these are the people from whom you want to gain buy-in. Once you identify the more cautious stakeholders, try to help them see the benefits of change from their perspective. Then, they can serve as the lead communicators to others who are hesitant and explain the value of the change in ways resistant team members will understand (and you may not have thought of).

The best way to get people on the same page is to address pain points and questions early on so people know exactly why a change is being implemented. Begin that process by answering these key questions:

  • What specifically is changing? Tell people what you’re going from and to.
  • What does this change mean for what I do? Explain how daily operations will be affected.
  • Will this make a difference? Show people how the change will bring value.
  • How will success be measured? Set clear calendar goals and openly address when these goals are not met.
  • Where do I go to find more information? Designate point people to address all updates regarding the transition.

Continue to communicate these Q&As to your team throughout the implementation to further drive buy-in for the new process.

During the Implementation

Through my experience, I’ve identified four definitive phases that will take place during the first 120 days of any RPO implementation. Understanding these phases will help keep you on track during the implementation process.

Introduction & Learning

This is the time to educate people on what changes are going to take place. People are excited, energy is high and everyone is working hard to be open-minded about the changes. Some people might feel an initial shock, as though changes are already starting, but this is the time to get everyone used to the idea of new processes and people before any big changes are made.


In the second phase, you address lessons learned in phase one and can begin operating at the new normal day by day. Energy remains high as people become more proficient in using the new processes. Issues decrease, but small concerns begin to go unreported. While morale is still high, minor frustrations occur while not everyone is up to speed yet.

Measurement & Consistency

This is the phase your client delivery leader warns you about; believe them when they say you’re going to get frustrated! Phase three is the toughest because it’s the time when people start becoming impatient with the way things are progressing. Everyone expects everyone else to be fully competent in the new processes and performing according to plan. Minor issues that went unreported in phase two often turn into bigger issues that come to light during this phase, leading to amendments to current processes and a review of the team make-up.

Scale & Grow

After adjustments are made to the team and process, things finally start to move more smoothly. People are now highly competent, wins are gained more consistently, and issues are reported and resolved as they occur. The team gets along and feels positive because it is at the correct size and structure. Phase four begins a state of steady growth, which leaves room to evolve.

While these phases are fixed, people in your organization will complete them at different rates. It’s okay that some people might still be getting adjusted in phase two while others are already becoming more competent in phase three. However, phase four means the entire team has mastered the changes and is ready for innovation and further growth. To ensure everyone reaches the final phase, encourage weekly or daily check-ins to get everyone on the same page about the way the transition is progressing.

During the first three months of one client engagement, small changes were made to the process almost every day. At first, it felt frustrating, but it was the way the client was able to make progress quickly versus waiting for designated biweekly meetings for issues to be addressed. It was a new process for the client and a new way of approaching change from the provider side, as well. Through careful documentation, the client was empowered to successfully combat candidate fallout by continually adjusting the order of steps in the hiring process.

Open Communication is Key

Communication is a two-way street, and it only works if both parties are actively communicating throughout the entire implementation. Because outsourcing your recruitment function means people from across the organization will be affected, be mindful not to overlook a specific group when communicating information about changes. A forgotten conversation about what to expect could be the difference between someone feeling neglected versus feeling like they are a part of the solution.

As much as you need to be transparent with people about the goals and progress of the transition, they need to be open with you, as well. Be mindful of the fact that many of the people affected by the transition have been used to an internal system and coming up with workarounds when processes fail. For example, a process map nearby on employee desks is a handy way to compare their actions to those on the process and document whenever an adjustment needed to be made. As people begin reporting exceptions, you’ll be able to determine whether incidents are isolated issues or part of a larger trend.

As issues are addressed and people start performing in accordance with the changes, be sure to publicly recognize and reward their behavior to further instill the idea that each team member brings value to the success of the implementation.

In one client’s RPO implementation, a team member kept fixing the process without ever letting anyone know. While it was very nice of her to do that, she needed to be reminded that that was what her RPO provider was there to do: optimize the process and help save her time. She had an understandably hard time letting go of that need to fix the process, but eventually realized any exception to the established process – no matter how small – should be reported to ensure the overall RPO implementation success.

Beyond: Ensuring a Successful Transition

RPO implementations can often feel like an uphill battle, but it’s important to remember that it’s a good thing. Walking uphill is tiring and at times frustrating, but it also comes with an incomparable feeling of accomplishment when you finally reach the top. Through every growing pain along the way, you’re still moving forward, and that’s what an RPO transition should feel like. There’s always going to be some level of discomfort with any new change, but remember, your RPO provider is there to help guide you throughout the implementation. You should feel excited by the idea of the value your RPO partnership will bring, and if you ever stop feeling value, that’s when you know something needs to change.

With any RPO engagement, you always want to be evolving and changing. As you’re working with your provider to fine-tune the changes, you’ll start to look at things with an innovative eye. As soon as you find yourself thinking about trying something new or adding in an extra piece to the program, that’s a good sign that you’re moving forward in the right direction.


Key Takeaways

  • With any change, communication is key to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Openly addressing pain points early on will help you gain buy-in for the new process.
  • RPO transitions can be frustrating, but that’s normal. Understanding the four main phases that each implementation will go through will help ensure its success.
  • Your RPO provider is there to help you throughout the implementation; lean on their expertise to help navigate you through any obstacles you may face. Know that you and your provider will likely make numerous changes throughout the implementation, and that’s a good thing!