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An exploratory study on the impact of recruitment process outsourcing on employer branding of an organisation

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This research is focused on ‘Recruitment Process Outsourcing’, as a key element of improvement in corporate brand of organization through using the talent and capabilities of employees. This research explores the linkages and interconnection between the concepts of recruitment process outsourcing and corporate growth. The review of the literature on recruitment process outsourcing and corporate brand shows an emergence of conceptual framework based around outsourcing effectiveness and its impact on corporate brand. Exploratory research was carried out using case study analysis to give clear and deep understanding of the Recruitment Process Outsourcing and its impact on corporate brand. This was conducted by using the semi structured interviews with the HR and marketing managers using the qualitative method. The findings propose a conceptual framework which is representative for the organizations engaged in recruitment process outsourcing. The key findings include: talented employees role in improving the brand image of any organization; the development of customers’ perceptions through their attitude and behaviours; the reduction in the HR costs through RPO Services, the responsibility of the organization taken by RPO which provides the chance for HR professionals and top management to focus on core activities; and the organizational care in selection of the RPO service provider as per their criteria. Finally, the conclusions were made on the basis of the key findings about the Recruitment Process Outsourcing and its effectiveness on corporate brand of an organization. Future research can use these findings as their beginning point and examine for wider understanding. This research has been limited to assessing the impact of RPO on the corporate branding of manufacturing organisations purely due to access issues. The research clearly establishes a good link between the operationalisation of recruitment process outsourcing and its direct influences on an organisation’s corporate branding through its outsourced employees. The research clearly highlights the importance of and the vital role played by the outsourced employees and how they need to be nurtured through a strong corporate culture and make them great brand ambassadors. At the practical level, this study has several managerial implications since the findings provide a good understanding of the concept of RPO and how it impacts the corporate brands of the organisation. The research gives confidence to the HR managers and directors on the importance of outsourced staff members and the need to address the issues concerning the employee branding of an outsourced member of staff. The outcome of the research gives a conceptual model which represents the impact of an outsourced employee on the corporate branding process of the organisation. This conceptual model highlights the many different factors that need to be addressed by a HR manager to keep consistency in employee branding of the organisation. The social implications of this research relate to the wellbeing and motivated staff members of an organisation even though they don’t work directly under the brand of the company they serve in. As mentioned in the research findings, the complications of the RPO process usually has drastic and serious impacts on employee attitudes and feelings when it comes to issues like change management, job satisfaction and the sense of belonging to the organisation. By addressing the different factors explored in the conceptual model of this research, an outsourced employee can feel equally motivated and belonging to the organisation they serve in, just as any other permanent member of staff who acts like an ideal brand ambassador for the corporate brand of the organisation.
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An exploratory study on the
impact of recruitment process
outsourcing on employer
branding of an organisation
Hasan Gilani
School of Service Management, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK, and
Shabana Jamshed
Business School, Glyndwr University – London, London, UK
Abstract
Purpose – This paper aims to focus on “Recruitment Process Outsourcing” (RPO) as a key element of
improvement in corporate brand of organisation through using the talent and capabilities of employees.
This research explores the linkages and interconnection between the concepts of RPO and its
contribution towards the employer branding process. The review of the literature on RPO and employer
branding identies an emergence of conceptual framework based around outsourcing effectiveness and
its impact on employer branding.
Design/methodology/approach – Exploratory research was carried out using case study analysis
to give clear and deep understanding of the RPO and its impact on employer branding. This was
conducted by using the semi-structured interviews with the HR and marketing managers using the
qualitative method. The ndings propose a conceptual framework which is representative for the
organisations engaged in RPO.
Findings – The key ndings include talented employees’ role in improving the brand image of any
organisation; the development of customers’ perceptions through their attitude and behaviours; the
reduction in the HR costs through RPO Services, the responsibility of the organisation taken by RPO
which provides the chance for HR professionals and top management to focus on core activities; and the
organisational care in selection of the RPO service provider as per their criteria.
Research limitations/implications – This research has been limited to assessing the impact of
RPO on the employer branding of manufacturing organisations purely due to access issues. The
research clearly establishes a good link between the operationalisation of RPO and its direct inuences
on an organisation’s employer branding through its outsourced employees. The research clearly
highlights the importance of and the vital role played by the outsourced employees and how they need
to be nurtured through a strong corporate culture and make them great brand ambassadors.
Practical implications – At the practical level, this study has several managerial implications, as
the ndings provide a good understanding of the concept of RPO and how it impacts the employer
brands of the organisation. The research gives condence to the HR managers and directors on the
importance of outsourced staff members and the need to address the issues concerning the employee
branding of an outsourced member of staff. The outcome of the research gives a conceptual model
which represents the impact of an outsourced employee on the employer branding process of the
organisation. This conceptual model highlights the many different factors that need to be addressed by
a HR manager to keep consistency in employee branding of the organisation.
Social implications – The social implications of this research relate to the wellbeing and motivated
staff members of an organisation, even though they do not work directly under the brand of the
company they serve in. As mentioned in the research ndings, the complications of the RPO process
usually has drastic and serious impacts on employee attitudes and feelings when it comes to issues like
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1753-8297.htm
Recruitment
process
outsourcing
303
Received 10 August 2015
Revised 1 September 2015
19 February 2016
Accepted 1 April 2016
Strategic Outsourcing: An
International Journal
Vol. 9 No. 3, 2016
pp. 303-323
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1753-8297
DOI 10.1108/SO-08-2015-0020
change management, job satisfaction and the sense of belonging to the organisation. By addressing the
different factors explored in the conceptual model of this research, an outsourced employee can feel
equally motivated and belonging to the organisation they serve in, just as any other permanent member
of staff who acts like an ideal brand ambassador for the employer branding of the organisation.
Originality/value – This research is original and adds value to the dynamics of RPO processes by
exploring the impact of the process on employer branding of the organisation through its brand
ambassadors. This research paves way for further research to be carried out within service
organisations where employees play a vital role in being the brand ambassadors of their employer
brands.
Keywords Innovation, Qualitative, Brand image, Recruitment, Internal branding,
Brand commitment, Employer branding, Brand perception, Business process outsourcing,
Internal brand communication
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
The research in question is focused on the impact of recruitment process outsourcing
(RPO) on the employer branding where the research explores the linkages and
interconnection between the concepts of RPO and employer branding. RPO trend is
increasing rapidly all over the world (Clott, 2004;Johnson et al., 2014). Recruitment HR
activities were traditionally performed in-house, but now RPO strategy has seen a
rapidly growing trend (Stewart and Woods, 1996,Schneider and Bowen, 1985). This
research explores the perception and feelings of in-house HR professionals and top
management about the impact of RPO on their employer branding process. It also
studies the RPO performance within organisations and its impact on their employer
brand. The main objective of this research is to explore the insights on the impact of RPO
on employer branding of an organisation.
2. Literature review
RPO is a form of business process outsourcing where employer outsources or transfers
all or part of its recruitment activities to an external service provider (Stroh and
Treehuboff, 2003). RPO may involve the outsourcing of all or just part of recruitment
functions and process. The external service provider may serve as a virtual recruiting
department by providing a complete package of skills, tools, technologies and activities
(Young, 2007;Xie et al., 2015).
The recent trend of increase in the demand for hard-to-nd skill sets, coupled with the
overarching talent crisis, has worked in strong favour of the RPO industry leaders who
were able to transition themselves from being transactional, low-cost providers to
strategic HR partners – though it left other RPO providers in the dust (Quinn and Hilmer,
1994;Quelin and Duhamel, 2003). The shift in what customers want from their RPO
providers has caused a dramatic change in the industry makeup over the past ve years
(Gale, 2015).
RPO looks like a strengthening trend, as a lot of budget is used for the in-house
recruitment process, and the outcome of the RPO process always results in big savings
for the organisation (Sheehan, 2009;Cicek and Ozer, 2011). In addition, there are a lot of
benets of RPO, including quicker and more promptly executed activities than any
other function of HR, business process outsourcing or human resource outsourcing
(Shelgren, 2004;Won and Kim, 2007). As a result, a company can spare a lot of time of
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their HR managers and let them focus on other core activities (Woodlock, 2006).
Moreover, RPO can provide the best quality of candidates, decrease the time and cost of
hiring and increase the HR reputation internally and externally (Wright et al., 1994).
Additionally, RPO facilitates improvement in internal branding by training the
outsourced employees as good brand ambassadors for the organisation through
aligning their brand perception with other insourced employees (Wood and Collings,
2009).
According to Kakabadse and Kakabadse (2002) and Wirtz et al. (2008), the main
reason for recruitment outsourcing process is always cost savings. However, they also
added certain different aspects for outsourcing like best practice, good service quality
and focus on the core competencies of any company.
According to Lever (1997),Abdul-Halim et al. (2009),Klaas et al. (2001) and Lievens
and De Corte (2008), the decision about the HR activities outsourcing includes the
reasons to decrease the costs, get access to HR expertise, get employees easily and as per
requirement and focus managerial resources related to strategic issues.
However, Quartey (2013) argues that outsourcing recruitment processes of even HR
activities has serious and drastic implications on the levels of staff morale and job
satisfaction. Declining levels of job satisfaction have been reported as another demerit of
outsourcing human resource functions (Dessler, 2008;Ivancevich, 2007;Reilly and
Williams, 2006). Kosnik et al. (2006) linked the concepts of HR outsourcing and the levels
of employee job satisfaction as directly correlated to each other. Several studies have
also explored the fact that HR outsourcing strategy is often characterised by low morale,
job insecurity and low motivation which successively leads to job dissatisfaction
(Kennedy et al., 2002;Cooke et al., 2005;Worall and Cooper, 1997). Cappello and
Constance (2011) explain that outsourcing creates culture of fear, anxiety, mistrust and
disloyalty which eventually leads to job dissatisfaction. Hence, it is a matter of great
concern for HR managers to keep a close watch at the morale and motivation levels of
employees that enter the organisation through outsourced agencies. This issue becomes
more serious when these outsourced employees have a direct inuence on the employer
branding of the organisation (Abdul-Halim and Che-Ha, 2010;Ezigbo, 2012).
2.1 Recruitment process outsourcing and employer branding
It must be claried here that this research paper focuses on the concept of “employer
branding” and not “employer brand”. This research takes the notion of employer
branding as being different from the concept of employer brand in the sense that the
latter focuses on the elements, content and targeted impact of promised employment
value propositions, while the former (employer branding) focuses on the process or
activities related to the process of devising, communicating and delivering the content
and targeted impact of promised employment values proposition (Ambler and Barrow,
1996;Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004). In simple words, employer branding incorporates the
activities that lead to internal branding process which has a clear inuence on employee
brand perception and brand commitment (Lloyd, 2002;Martin et al., 2011;Gilani, 2011;
Johnson et al., 2014).
According to Riel (2001), the employer branding is the steadily designed and
executed process of developing and maintaining the good reputation of the company
with its basic components through sending the signals to stakeholders through the
behaviour, communication and imagery using the corporate identity. Backhaus and
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Tikoo (2004) claim employer branding to be the application of branding principles to the
employees of the organisation.
Ambler and Barrow (1996) argue that employer brand or internal branding is always
evolving within the organisational activities, be it outsourced recruitment or in-house.
According to Balmer and Wilkinson (1991),Kennedy et al. (2002) and Schneider and
Bowen (1985), the workers of any organisations are the actual interface between internal
and external environment of the employer brand through their behaviours and
interactions. Hence, recruitment of the right staff is very much important and should be
through experts, as they would have a direct contribution in building and shaping the
employer brand and enhance the organisational reputation (Gilani, 2011;Porricelli et al.,
2014).
Johnson et al. (2014) indicated a negative perception of the line managers when it
comes to outsourcing the recruitment processes, however blames the partnership
among the organisation and the agency for any inconsistency in brand communication.
This notion discreetly demonstrates a signicant impact of the RPO process on
employer branding of the organisation (McDonald et al., 2001).
Similarly, according to Fombrun et al. (2000), the reputation of a company is
considered as the net perception as the overall capabilities of company to meet the
expectations of all its stakeholders. According to Bosch et al. (2006) and Melewar et al.
(2011), brand perception in the minds of the consumers is built by the employees. These
perceptions are developed during the interaction of customers with organisation.
Xie et al. (2015) argue that the reputation and employer brand identity plays a vital
role in attracting an individual towards employment. Hence, employer brand and its
attractiveness greatly contributes towards the recruitment strategy of the organisation.
Therefore, organisations should nurture, communicate and embed company reputation
and employer brand to the outsourced agencies (through RPO) responsible for
recruitment activities on behalf of the employer (Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004;Xie et al.,
2015). The above discussion demonstrates a clear link between RPO and its impact
(positive or negative) on the employer branding of the organisation. This link needs to be
addressed and monitored carefully and strategically (Wilden et al., 2010;Xie et al., 2015).
2.2 Creating the employer brand through the employees
According to Olins (2000), employer brand is built with the interaction of talented staff
(otherwise termed as brand ambassadors) who steadily and consistently interact with
the customers and other stakeholders and create a corporate image in the minds of
customers (and any other stakeholder) with their attitude and behaviours.
De Chernatony et al. (2001) argue that the employees of an organisation are the major
assets of an organisation who build the employer brand of any company, so it is very
important to understand their needs and one needs to be very careful in the recruitment
of these brand ambassadors. Hardaker and Fill (2005) claim that the employees usually
communicate and resonate the brand image during customer services with their
attitude. Moreover, McDaniel (2008) argues that organisations are enhancing their
competitive advantage through hiring the talented and competent staff.
According to Hatch and Schultz (2001),Balmer and Greyser (2003),Gilani (2007) and
Melewar and Podnar (2010), employer brand is in fact about the people of the
organisation; they assert that an employer brand is made not only by the perception of
the customers but also by the perception of its employees. Macrae (2001) and Melewar
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et al. (2011), argue that employees play a very important part in the employer branding
process. Employees are the centre point in making the link between the employees and
organisation and customers. They are the main catalysts who make the corporate image
through their learning and capabilities (Witt and Rode, 2005). In fact, learning is one of
the major things in strengthening the employer brand.
Furthermore, Aurand et al. (2005) and Vallaster and De Chernatony (2006) stress that
human resource management (or development) activities help in the process of
translating and promoting the brand to workers and giving them the sense of brand
value which results in a positive perception by the employees about the brand of the
organisation they are serving in. While in return, the employer brand would expect good
performance and positive employee attitude towards the organisation, which results in
positive brand commitment (Gilani, 2011;Porricelli et al., 2014).
2.3 Recruitment process outsourcing impacts on employer brand
Aurand et al. (2005) argue that the impact of HR plans, processes and actions have
signicant impact on the employer branding process of any organisation. The HR
activities and actions impact on the brand both internally and externally. Moreover,
Gosti and Wilson (2001) assert that HR practices like recruitment policies must align
with the brand values to avoid conicting messages. Furthermore, they highlight that
successful promotion of internal branding dependent on HR initiatives created in
marketing department and through involving the HR department in internal branding
projects (Gale, 2015). In this manner, the organisation can use the good communication
in giving the understanding to the employees about the employer brand and their role in
strengthening the brand promise, henceforth reducing the confusion regarding the
brand because of any misleading messages, if any. However, Hauser (2011) and Moroko
and Uncles (2008) point out some issues regarding the RPO not successful in
representing the employer brand of the organisation. This is probably something the
RPO providers require to tackle, as there is a strong evidence that corporate or employer
brand is critical in attracting the best workers (Gilani, 2011;Johnson et al., 2014).
Rousseau (2001) asserts that if the subject of the brand message provides sufcient and
clear information about the brand values, then it will help in improving the perception of
the organisation by the recruiting agency (in case of RPO). Additionally, as per
Backhaus and Tikoo (2004), the success of internal branding by any recruiter depends
on the skilled level of newly hired employees;, second, the percentage of turnover rate;
and third, an increase in productivity may also link with employer branding success. So
when outsourcers are fullling the image of employer brand, then it means the
outsourcers are strengthening the employer brand of any organisation by using the
excellent human aptitude in the environment which is becoming competitive (Wilson,
2001).
Johnson et al. (2014) argue that the process of RPO has a clear impact on brand
perception of the employees recruited and stress the importance on consistency in
internal brand communication to align the brand perception of outsourced and
in-sourced employees of an organisation.
2.4 Gaps in review of literature
Ambler and Barrow (1996) assert that a company’s performance can be improved
through its employer branding, while Witt and Rode (2005) gave arguments about some
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important points which do affect the reputation of employer brand and highlighted the
internal factors like human resource management and employees, but did not dwell
deeper into linking the concepts of RPO and employer branding in much detail.
Cappello and Constance (2011) explained the inuence of RPO on the employer
brand, but they did not focus on how the expertise of RPO in recruitment help in
providing talented employees to the organisation, who would then enhance the
employer brand of the organisation through their behaviour/attitude and radiate the
employer brand when interacting with customers and other stakeholders.
Balmer and Wilkinson (1991) argue that that employees of an organisation are the
bridge between internal and external environment, but they did not emphasise on
outsourced employees and how the outsourced employee would have any different
impact on the employer brand. Yoon and Naadimuthu (1994), while discussing the
employee retention strategies, argued that the outsourced employees need to be equally
motivated and communicated the brand values consistently, so their internal brand
perception is aligned with those of insourced employees of the organisation.
Johnson et al. (2014) focus on the extent of effectiveness of the RPO strategy and
stress the importance of people quality and their contribution towards organisational
success being the paramount factors in considering the impact of RPO process. They
also highlight the role of organisational “values” that need to be consistently translated
towards the perception of the line-managers as well as the recruiter, so the corporate
vision is aligned throughout the span of employee perception across the organisation.
Given the above discussion on the literature on the subject area, there is a clear
impact of RPO on the employer branding of the organisation, and this research would
attempt to ll these gaps through exploratory research.
2.5 Research questions
Keeping in mind the detailed literature review and identication of academic gaps in the
literature, the following research objectives need to be addressed through this research
paper:
to identify and explore the impact of RPO on employer branding of an
organisation;
To identify how RPO inuences (if any) the perception of the new hired employees
and strengthen the employer brand.
to identify the drivers in decision making process when opting for RPO by the
organisation; and
to identify the reasons of the rising trends of RPO all over the world.
3. Methodology
Due to the exploratory nature of this research and in the light of the aim and objectives
of the research, qualitative research methodology is chosen because according to
Holloway (1997), the main function of qualitative research is related to perceptions,
feelings and insights of people. As the researcher is trying to nd the feelings and
perception of the HR professionals and managers about the RPO impact on employer
branding, this research was based on qualitative methodology.
To address the research questions and attain the exploratory research objectives,
semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted where a particular consideration
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was given to the selection of interviewees, based on their positions in the organisation
enabling them to contribute as subject experts and having a good understanding of the
RPO and its impact on the business. The research selected the case studies of
manufacturing organisations that use RPO for their recruitment. In this regard, four
organisations were selected, the names of whom are kept anonymous upon their request.
The heads of departments and directors were interviewed who had a good command on
the subject of RPO and employer branding. In total, 12 one-to-one interviews were
carried out, three from each case study. The questions were mostly “how”, “what” and
“why” type in nature. Interpretive thematic analysis technique was used to interpret
each response of the interviewee. Content analysis technique is used to analyse the data
and to assess the results for assessment of research theme (Zikmund, 2000). The key
ndings were related to the literature review on effectiveness and impact of RPO on
employer branding. Finally, conclusions were made based on the key ndings about the
RPO and its inuence on employer branding of an organisation.
4. Findings
All the 12 one-to-one interviews were transcribed, coded and analysed using thematic
data analysis process. The following were the key ndings:
4.1 Key nding 1: talented employees are the major factor in improving the brand
image of any organisation
The data revealed many different factors relating to internal branding that are
contributed by RPO in improving the employer brand of any organisation, and some of
these were identied as internal communication, corporate culture, leadership and
employee training. One of such factors is recruitment of talented employees. The result
of the study indicates that employees of the organisation (be it insourced or outsourced)
play a vital role in radiating the positive brand identity of the employer brand to its
stakeholders. In this regard, the role of an outsourced employee becomes even more
sensitive. One of the main objectives of RPO is to recruit a skilled and talented employee
who matches the needs and requirements of the job role. The main contribution of
employees to the organisation they serve in is their talent and capabilities to the job role
which increases the competitive advantage of the organisation by giving excellent and
innovative products and services which results in a positive brand image of the
employer brand.
This result compliments the argument by Backhaus and Tikoo (2004), who linked the
increase in productivity of the organisation with success of internal branding. In
addition, Dess et al. (2015) advise that RPO is one way of achieving the competitive
advantage through employees and strengthening the brand image. Furthermore, the
nding also compliments the arguments by Johnson et al. (2014) and Xie et al. (2015) in
terms of the vitality and fragility of the RPO and the outsourced employee who clearly
has a signicant contribution in employer branding process.
4.2 Key nding 2: the employees are the main carriers of employer brand by
developing the customers’ perceptions through their attitude and behaviours
This is supported by Hawabhay et al. (2009) who assert that the employees’ behaviour is
foundation of the employer branding process because of its signicant role in
transferring the values of brand and developing the affective bond with consumers.
Moreover, Schneider and Bowen (1985) and Gilani (2007) assert that the interaction of
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customers with employees does strongly strengthen the corporate image of the
company. Furthermore, Gronroos (1994) stressed on the importance of the relationship
between talented employees and employer brand and claims that at times, the customers
see the employees as the employer brand, so the employee behaviour becomes the
employer brand behaviour for the customer. Overall, it is analysed that employees play
a major part in developing the employer brand of any organisation, and it complements
the arguments by Foley and Andrews (2004) and Gilani and Waqar (2013) who assert
that employees are the essential factor in consistently transferring the employer brand
identity to their customers through their interactions with them.
The data also revealed the vital need for consistency in internal branding so that the
brand perception of all the employees (insourced and outsourced) is aligned and
nurtured through the corporate culture as a medium to translate the employer brand to
the employees.
4.3 Key nding 3
This study revealed that the reduction in the HR costs is also a competitive advantage for
the organisation through the RPO services. The data analysis revealed that opting for
RPO results in reduction in the cost of recruitment and saves budget to be spent on other
activities of the rm. These ndings can be related to the argument by Young (2007)
who argues that it is a good strategy to use the RPO services for cost reduction rather
than slashing salaries or wage rates. However, the data indicate that the true cost
effectiveness of RPO option depends upon the right selection of the RPO service
provider. A rightly selected and efcient RPO service provider would recruit the right
talent for the organisation who would contribute positively towards the employer brand
(Collins and Stevens, 2002;Gale, 2015). On the other hand, non-suitable employees (and
there are always many) would not only be less effective but also costlier in terms of time
and investment on the employee for the organisation. Hence, a right choice of RPO
service provider can truly add value to the employer brand in terms of cost efciency.
4.4 Key nding 4
The data analysis shows that as RPO takes up the non-active responsibility of the
organisation of recruitment, it provides the chance for HR professionals and top
management to focus on core activities for future strategies. As discussed in Section 4.1,
RPO provides the talented employees to the organisation who are supposed to be very
efcient in their duties; hence, the management does not need to worry much about the
talent, capabilities and availability of the staff on time because RPO solves all these
problems by providing the talented staff on time. This complements the arguments put
forward by Quinn and Hilmer (1994),Corbett (1998),Mazziwi (2002) and Lau and Zhang
(2006) that RPO facilitates the management to focus on core activities by sharing their
HR functions and providing the staff efciently. In addition, the study also revealed that
as the process of RPO is providing the talented employees quickly and efciently to the
organisation, in a way it helps in solving the problems of staff shortage, and in return, it
may enhance company performance by saving recruitment time and supplying skilled
labour.
4.5 Key nding 5
The study shows that the organisations should be careful in the selection of the RPO
service provider and should select as per their criteria. As indicated in Section 4.3, it
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should be assured that RPO service providers have the knowledge about the business of
the organisation and can address the stafng needs of the rm. This nding supports
the argument by Grugulis et al. (2003) who argue that sometimes, the RPO service
providers do not have the knowledge of the business of the organisation which usually
results in inefciency in recruitment and sometimes added cost. In this regard, Conklin
(2005) highlighted that these risks can be avoided if the organisation evaluates the RPO
service provider carefully and in detail as per their criteria and stafng requirements.
4.6 Key nding 6
The ndings identied the issues of employee attitudes, less motivated and job
dissatisfaction among the outsourced employees.
The data revealed that the usual outsourced employees have this sense of not
belonging to the organisation they serve in, as they are not permanent or direct
employees of the organisation. This also paves way for the sentiments of psychological
negativity among the outsourced employees (Cicek and Ozer, 2011).
The nding also indicated that outsourcing may have some positive impact on some
employees in the sense that they need to work hard and prove their worth to upgrade
their role and become permanent employees of the organisation. This feeling acts as a
motivating factor for the employees, and they want to work harder and intend to
impress the management by their efciency and productivity. Adler (2003) identied
this factor in outsourced employees and asserted that the management should recognise
this issue with the outsourced employees and involve them in high value-added
activities, replacing mundane and repetitive work. However, in some employees’
perception, outsourcing can result in a loss of employment or job insecurity (Adler, 2003;
Gale, 2015).
Given such signicant impact on employee attitudes and feelings, it can be asserted
that outsourcing may lead to a perceived alteration of the psychological contract,
potentially leading to negative organisational outcomes such as perceived betrayal
(Kessler et al., 1999), job security, (Cooper, 1999), depression and low self-esteem
(Applebaum et al., 1987).
4.7 Conceptual framework model
Given the above key themes and ndings, a conceptual framework model has been
devised incorporating the different interpretations from the data collected and analysed.
The theoretical framework model gives an understanding of RPO contribution in
enhancing the employer brand (Figure A1).
4.8 Explanation of the conceptual framework model
4.8.1 Section 1: recruitment process outsourcing and human resources activities. The
conceptual model represents the added value of RPO services that proves to be very
benecial for achieving the perfection in HR activities of an organisation. It highlights
the fact that the main role of RPO is to provide HR expertise to organisations. This is also
supported by Ahmed and Hemman, (2011),Benner (2003),Cooke et al., (2005) and
Nesheim et al., (2007). In addition, as per Woodlock, (2006),Tanure and Duarte (2007)
and Wirtz et al. (2008), the organisations have started to admit the strategic importance
of HR functions and indicate that the human resource management viewpoint has
evolved from administrative to planned, to now as strategic. In the researcher’s views,
these are the reasons that the HR function has now become parallel to organisational
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strategy and the trend is increasing. In addition, the framework highlights that
organisational performance sees a much positive outcome due to opting for RPO
strategy in HR because the employees hired though this services are usually skilled, as
RPO service providers have the expertise in recruitment and selection function.
Second, the conceptual model also represents the fact that the RPO option allows the
HR functions to be more planned and organised due to efcient time management and
cost-effective achievements of HR goals. These views are also supported by Kosnik et al.
(2006) in arguing that RPO facilitates the HR department in working more efciently
and by focussing on core activities due to the sharing of responsibilities with the
outsourcing agency. Respondents’ views regarding the cost and time saving issues
indicate that RPO leads to increased cost effectiveness and efciency by being actively
involved in the recruitment process and also by addressing the stafng needs of the
organisation efciently. RPO helps the organisation in saving cost and time by
providing the employees to the organisation in a short period and cost savings by taking
up the responsibilities of recruitment process from the HR department.
Third, the conceptual model indicates that the RPO also assists in improving the
employee retention rate by providing the employees a positive brand identity of the host
organisation when recruiting (Bowen and Ostroff, 2004). So in the opinion of
respondents, the RPO process is enhancing employees’ retention rate by giving the
positive picture about the systems and policies of the host organisation by creating a
good image and perception in the minds of the employees about the company. The above
comments are supported by Quelin and Duhamel (2003),Wright et al. (1994) and Levy
(2005) who argue that the process of RPO acts as a catalyst in promoting the employer
brand to the outsourced employees right from the start during their recruitment process
and throughout their stay in the organisation. They (Quelin and Duhamel, 2003;Wright
et al., 1994;Levy, 2005) also assert that the internal branding activities should be
consistently communicated to the outsourced employees of the organisation which must
be aligned with the internal branding communication towards their insourced
employees, so all the employees share the same brand image and vision of the
organisation.
4.8.2 Section 2: impact of employees’ talent on employer branding. The second section
of the framework highlights the relationship of talent and knowledge of employees
provided by RPO and employer brand of organisation. The framework highlights the
signicance of employees’ skills and how their talent contributes positively towards the
employer brand of organisation. In fact, it indicates that employees play a vital role in
communicating the employer brand through their interactions with the stakeholders of
the organisation. These views are supported by many authors such as De Chernatony
(2001),Harris and de Chernatony (2001),Hatch and Schultz (2001),Wilson (2001),
Balmer and Soenen (1999) and Gilani (2011) who argue that employees of any
organisation (outsourced or insourced) are the voice of the employer brand, hence
playing an important role in the process of employer branding. In this regard, Cappello
and Constance (2011) assert the importance of RPO and argue that to make RPO more
effective for any company, it is good to make relationship with RPO agencies as partners
so that the RPO agencies put their best efforts in communicating and enhancing the
employer brand of their client’s organisation to any potential employee and provide the
organisation with the right set of skilled employees (Gilley et al., 2004).
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The rightly recruited skilled employees of any organisation enhance the competitive
advantage of the rm by using their talent in developing innovative products and good
services for the organisation which results in positive image and reputation of
organisation (Glaister, 2014). Furthermore, the conceptual model highlights that
employees inuence the brand image and reputation of the organisation by
communicating the knowledge and employer brand through their interactions with the
customers and all stakeholders (Brown and Dacin, 1997;Duncan and Moriarty, 1998;
McDonald et al., 2001). Boudreau (2010) asserts that the corporate goals can be achieved
by developing employer brand through attracting the talent, development of the talent
and sourcing of the talent. The conceptual model also indicates the signicance of RPO
in the sense that it provides the talented staff to the organisation who, when managed
well through effective internal brand communication strategies, would perceive a
positive brand image of the employer brand which then resonates from their “living the
brand” behaviour (Balmer and Greyser, 2003;Kennedy, 1977;Ind, 2001).
4.8.3 Section 3: impact of employees’ attitude on employer branding. The Section 3
indicates the importance of employees in enhancing the employer brand of any
organisation. It is the employees in the organisation who play a very important part in
building the employer brand of any organisation through their internal brand
communication. They do build the employer brand by improving the brand image of the
organisation in the minds of customers by their positive attitude and customer
interactions (Hatch and Schultz, 2001;Wilson, 2001). The employees build a strong
relationship between organisation and customers through giving the knowledge about
the brand, and Balmer and Soenen (1999) argue that through this relationship, they
enhance and communicate the employer brand in the mind of its stakeholders. In
addition, as per Thomson and Hecker (2000) and Vallaster and De Chernatony (2005),
the talent of employees, if nurtured and channelled well, has a very positive impact on
employer branding through their contribution towards their job performance and their
advocacy of the employer brand to their consumers.
It is analysed that the RPO plays a very important role in building the employer
brand of any organisation by strengthening the in-house HR department and providing
the talented and capable staff who positively contribute towards the employer brand
(Bettencourt and Brown, 1997;Ahmed and Hemman, 2011). RPO is providing
knowledge though employees, and employer branding improves by enhancing the
knowledge of the organisation through its employees (Kapferer, 1992). As a
consequence, these employees, by their services in internal and external environment of
the organisation, help in attainment of brand promises to its stakeholders (De
Chernatony et al., 2001;Duncan and Moriarty, 1997).
5. Recommendations for business practices
When an organisation starts thinking to hire the services of outsourcing agencies, then
there are few things that an organisation should consider.
5.1 Be very clear about recruitment process outsourcing needs
The major important stage is to nd the need and requirement for outsourcing any
function of the organisation (Taylor, 2010). So the organisation should establish the
areas in which the RPO services are needed. It is also suggested by many authors
(Ghassemieh et al., 2005;Brannemo, 2006;Hauser, 2011) that the organisation will not
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achieve the full benets of outsourcing if it is unclear about the services that need to be
outsourced. In this regard, it is vital that the management is aware of the consequences
and added value (if any) of opting to outsource their recruitment and HR activities to a
third-party organisation.
5.2 Choice of right recruitment process outsourcing service provider
The data analysis indicates the importance and sensitivity of the selection of
outsourced agencies, as at times the outsourced agencies are not capable of or lack
precise business knowledge about the host organisation which creates a serious risk
in communicating the inconsistent brand knowledge to the outsourced employees
(Goody and Hall, 2007;Klass et al., 2005). Furthermore, the organisation will not
achieve its objectives if there is a lack in services of RPO and will then have to
terminate its contracts (Klaas, 2003).
5.3 Alignment of vision
The ndings and analysis indicate that there can be a gap between the understanding of
corporate vision and core values between the RPO service providers and the
management of the host organisation. This may lead to confusion and distorted brand
image of the host organisation in the mind of the outsourced employees.
In this regard, it is recommended that the RPO service providers should work
very closely with the host organisation to know their corporate identity and
employer brand well, so the corporate vision is aligned and consistent. Johnson et al.
(2014) even suggested that the recruiter should move inside the building of the host
organisation to experience the corporate brand of the host organisation, but that
might not be feasible or desirable by both the parties. However, the importance of
sharing the same vision and employer brand perception by the RPO service provider
is of immense importance, as it gets translated to the outsourced employees through
the talent acquisition process.
5.4 Strong relationship with the outsourced employees
As indicated in the literature review, RPO usually is related to low employee morale
and job dissatisfaction (Dessler, 2008;Ivancevich, 2007;Reilly and Williams, 2006;
Quartey, 2013). It is therefore strongly recommended that HR managers and
directors should pay close attention to the relationship management with the
outsourced employees and give them equal level of respect and importance as any
other member of staff. This strong relationship with the outsourced employee would
create a good level of trust between the management and the employees, which
nurtured through a strong corporate culture would positively impact on the
employer branding of the organisation.
6. Scope and limitation of the research
This research has been limited to assessing the impact of RPO on the employer branding
of manufacturing organisations purely due to access issues. The research clearly
establishes a good link between the operationalisation of RPO and its direct inuences
on an organisation’s employer branding through its outsourced employees.
This research paves way for further research to be carried out within service
organisations where employees play a vital role in being the brand ambassadors of the
employer brands. A clear implication of the research relates to the issues highlighted in
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the literature review where many authors (Dessler, 2008;Ivancevich, 2007;Reilly and
Williams, 2006;Quartey, 2013) related RPO with low levels of morale and job
dissatisfaction. The research clearly highlights the importance of and the vital role
played by the outsourced employees and how they need to be nurtured through a strong
corporate culture and make them great brand ambassadors.
The results of this study clearly showed that RPO has a substantial impact on the
success and thriving of any organisation. What is less clear is the impact of RPO on
international resourcing. Nowadays, organisations in UK are looking for talented
technical people in their companies, regardless of their country of origin. A more
extensive look into the effect of the international hiring done by RPO is therefore
required which this study does not show.
Another limitation of the study is that the ndings and conclusions are based upon
the qualitative data collected by a small sample of HR directors and managers and is
purely dependent on the interpretations of their perceptions and ideas. It is therefore
recommended to test the conceptual model by using a large data set of quantitative
surveys and using statistical inferences to measure the relationships among the
different factors dened in the proposed conceptual model.
7. Practical and social implications
At the practical level, this study has several managerial implications, as the ndings
provide a good understanding of the concept of RPO and how it impacts the employer
brands of the organisation.
RPO saves the time of organisations by helping them focus on core business
activities rather than spending valuable time in searching for skilled candidates.
Organisations have to contact the agency only once to acquire the desired talented
employees, and after that the particular agency facilitates the process.
The research gives condence to the HR managers and directors on the importance of
outsourced staff members and the need to address the issues concerning the employee
branding of an outsourced member of staff. The outcome of the research gives a
conceptual model which represents the impact of an outsourced employee on the
employer branding process of the organisation. This conceptual model highlights the
many different factors that need to be addressed by a HR manager to keep consistency
in employee branding of the organisation.
The social implications of this research relate to the wellbeing and motivated staff
members of an organisation, even though they do not work directly under the employer
brand of the company they serve in. As mentioned in the research ndings, the
complications of the RPO process usually has drastic and serious impacts on employee
attitudes and feelings when it comes to issues like change management, job satisfaction
and the sense of belonging to the organisation. Furthermore, RPO is gaining
signicance popularity due to difculty in nding skilled workers and talented
employees. RPO has made huge changes in the industry by providing right and talented
candidates.
By addressing the different factors explored in the conceptual model of this research,
an outsourced employee can feel equally motivated and belonging to the organisation
they serve in, just as any other permanent member of staff who acts like an ideal brand
ambassador for the employer brand of the organisation.
315
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8. Recommendations for future academic research
The results of this research created a valuable nding that shows an understanding
of the impact of outsourcing recruitment activities on employee attitudes and
behaviours which would directly impact the employer branding of the organisation.
The ndings pointed out that there were many factors that affect the decision to
outsource the recruitment function. However, the nding suggested that these
factors must produce a higher competitive advantage, and employee perspectives
should be watched closely by organisations when they are deciding to outsource the
recruitment function.
This exploratory work is based on theoretical framework as well as providing a
conceptual framework for RPO services and its impact on employer brand in industrial
sector. Hence, the researcher advises that this may also be applicable in other sectors
such as retail, services and manufacturing.
Some of the subjective areas for future research are as follows:
The impact of RPO on the behaviour and attitude of the stakeholders and
company as a whole.
The impact of RPO on cultural issues in any services or manufacturing
organisation.
As aforementioned in Section 3 that the primary data are collected from top
management, it would give a new avenue to explore the subject research
objectives based on the opinions of consumers and employees.
9. Conclusion
According to authors’ views based on an in-depth literature review and primary
data analysis, it is concluded that the RPO plays very important part in improving
the employer brand of the organisation provided that organisation conducts careful
selection of RPO service providers by watching their capabilities in recruitment
process, services required and knowledge of RPO service about business. Hence, it
can be asserted that an outsourced employee is an equal contributor towards the
employer branding of the organisation, as any insourced permanent employee of the
organisation would be.
Overall, it is concluded that RPO has a very good impact on the employer brand
of any organisation by providing a pool of talented and competent employees who
are the main source in establishing the brand image and repute in stakeholders and
enhances the performance of the company through their talent which also enhances
the brand image of the company in the perceptions of stakeholders. Moreover, the
expertise of the RPO saves the time and cost of the organisation which can be useful
for building the brand image of the organisation though new expansions. In
addition, the RPO provides the HR expertise and the sufcient time to in-house HR
professionals to contribute in the core activities which will result enhance in
performance and image of company. Finally, the conceptual model devised as the
outcome of this research highlights many different factors that contribute towards
employer branding of the organisation relating to RPO and need to be addressed
wisely by the management of the organisation to keep the employee branding
sentiments aligned throughout the organisation.
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316
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Employees Attitude
Foundaon of Brand
Brand Building
Impact on employer branding
Impact on employer branding
Organisaon
Performance
Employees
RPO
Customers’ Percepon
HR Experse
T
A
L
E
N
T
Improvements in
Employees Retenon
Sales
Main Carrier of
Employer brand to
the stakeholders
Good Reputaon,
Brand Percepon,
Brand Identy
Strong Employer
Brand
Compeve
Increase in Performance
Cost &
Time
Right Selecon of RPO
oCapabilies of
RPO
oRPO knowledge
about client’s
business
oServices Re
q
uired
Figure A1.
Conceptual
framework
representing the
impact of RPO on
employer branding of
an organisation
323
Recruitment
process
outsourcing
... 'An exploratory study on the impact of recruitment process outsourcing on employer branding of an organisation' [39] Outsourcing the recruitment process economises the organisation time, helping it to focus on the business main activities rather than spending precious time searching for qualified candidates. The research also emphasises the importance of outsourced employees and EB in this context. ...
... 'An exploratory study on the impact of employer branding process of an organisation' [39] Research highlights the importance of both outsourced employees and EB in the analysed context. D: Workers Attraction Table 2. Cont. ...
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The aim of this paper is to present a systematic literature revision (SLR) that shows the relationship between the concept of employer branding (EB) and talent management (TM). Based on the EB model proposed by Backhaus and Tikoo in 2004, and the macro-contingent model for talent management introduced in 2019 by King and Vaiman, we intend both to analyse the theory correlating the EB concept and TM, and to identify TM dimensions that are reflected on the EB concept. A systematic literature revision was carried out using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews (PRISMA) protocol in order to identify and sum up the most relevant studies of the last 10 years concerning these topics. Findings show that scientific literature on the subject grew considerably in the last four years, reflecting the rising concern over the creation of an employer brand at the organisational level. EB explores talent attraction and retention particularly, though, unexpectedly, is also becoming a concept explored by nations to attract a qualified workforce. Analysing selected articles, we may conclude that EB is clearly considered as a tool within the largest process of talent management.
... Apart from these factors, culture and brand image is also affect the usage of RPO (Nadda et al., 2017;Masinovic, 2010;Gilani and Jamshed, 2016;Wehner et al., 2014;Wehner et al., 2012). Alongwith the benefits of RPO, there are also some risks of RPO like outsourcing creates culture of fear, anxiety, mistrust and disloyalty (David et al., 2017;Jamil and Naeem, 2013;Cappello and Constance, 2011;Masinovic, 2010;Kulkarni and Jenamani, 2008). ...
... Knowledge of labor market conditions is equally important as is the likelihood of fit between available providers and the organization. In this context (Gilani and Jamshed, 2016) also suggests that organizations should be very clear about recruitment process outsourcing needs, Choice of right recruitment process outsourcing service provider, Alignment of vision, and Strong relationship with the outsourced employees. ...
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Purpose-This paper aims to review research on recruitment process outsourcing to establish the current body of knowledge and, on this basis, to identify gaps in our understanding. This action will rationalize future research activities. Design/methodology/approach-The study consists of a systematic review of 36 articles includes 21 refereed empirical papers, 3 review papers, 7 conceptual papers, 3 reports and 2 thesis on recruitment process outsourcing. Findings-Five themes were identified: Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), key motivators of recruitment process outsourcing, benefits and risks of RPO, effects of RPO on different stakeholders and RPO in India. It seems that there is lack of understanding concerning the concept of recruitment process outsourcing. Research limitations/implications-This study may not have enabled a complete coverage of all empirical articles in the field of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). Yet, it seems that the review process covered a large number of studies available. Originality/value-To the best of the authors' knowledge, no systematic literature review on this topic has previously been published in academic journals.
... Frook (2001) identified how internal employer branding creates a culture of trust between an employer and employee, while Deery (2008) suggests this is a vital part of the brand as employees are key for creating a positive employer brand. Supporting research proposes that recruiting the right talent becomes essential, as employees are the best form of employer branding, alongside the role of the employer brand image within the recruitment market (Ewing, Pitt, de Bussy, & Berthon, 2002;Gilani & Jamshed, 2016). Furthermore, internal brand management is becoming a method that organisations are using to acquire a competitive advantage, by building their internal brand to have such a strong positioning that it is difficult for any competitors to imitate or beat (Burmann & Zeplin, 2009; Martin, Gollan, & Grigg, 2011). ...
... Xie et al. (2015) argue that there are two essential factors of attracting a potential employee towards the workplace -reputation and employer brand identity. Apart from this, the employer brand is in close relation with the organization's recruitment strategy (Gilani, Jamshed, 2016). Barber (1998) created a model of the recruitment process which consists of three main groups. ...
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