Santander has had a recruitment outsourcing contract (RPO) with Hays Resource Management for around five years, during which time the bank has undergone a number of acquisitions and changes to its business model.
According to Debbie Reeves-Malvagni, head of resourcing, service and delivery at Santander, outsourcing the core recruitment activities enables the in-house team of 11 to focus on strategy and the needs of the business.
Hays manages permanent, volume recruitment (typically branch staff), while another partner, Alexander Mann Solutions, recruits primarily specialist and experienced candidates and manages graduate recruitment and early-career hires. The in-house team do some recruitment, usually senior or executive-level hires. Cost efficiency was one of the driving factors for deciding to outsource.
But while immediately moving its then 90-strong in-house resourcing team outside of the company created instant cost savings, Santander has derived other benefits from the partnership. Despite the economic downturn, Santander still recruits between 5,000 and 6,000 staff per year. Since 2007, it has acquired Abbey National, Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester, and is in the process of acquiring a significant chunk of the RBS retail and corporate banking business.
Hays has been able to scale up its recruitment operations for Santander during busy periods, for example in 2010 when the bank decided to recruit an additional 500 branch staff to support new product launches and customer-service initiatives. It was also instrumental in a redeployment exercise after the Alliance & Leicester acquisition, helping find jobs internally for 30% of staff who were at risk of redundancy.
Partnering with a large RPO supplier that works with a number of its competitor organisations has also helped Santander gain a breadth of expertise that cannot be matched in house. Hays was able to advise the bank on implementing their graduate applicant tracking system, for example, as it has experience of using this system with other customers. Reeves-Malvagni admits that some aggressive targets were placed on Hays at the start of their relationship – moving the recruitment team to an outsourced model happened in under four months – but both sides are now used to working together.
Her advice: “Approach it as a partnership. The more you can collaborate and share the thinking, strategy of the business and HR, the more effective and efficient and a part of your organisation they will become.”