As one of the world’s most iconic brands, the complexity of Manchester United’s business model and the sheer scale of its operations requires it to be the best both on and off the pitch. Beyond its superstar players lies a vast network of talented people that enable the club to continue delivering the true magic of the beautiful game and reaching millions of people around the globe.
Making this happen requires a talent partner so intrinsically linked that it blurs the lines between ‘them and us’ and creates one united and enlarged team. Their mantra is to attract, develop and retain a best-in-class workforce that sits behind the scenes and sets the club apart from its competition.
Manchester United’s retained talent partner, RPOne – the recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) delivery arm of the global talent solutions specialist, Morson Group – now focuses on developing the club’s employer brand, creating streamlined candidate journeys, evolving ED&I agendas and developing behavioural frameworks, all whilst delivering the plethora of diverse skills that the business requires.
Kirsty Wilson, talent business partner at Manchester United and seconded by Morson, explains: “You’ll struggle to find someone who doesn’t know the club’s name, yet what is a blessing can often be a barrier to those who don’t realise the huge infrastructure around the team. You don’t need to be an avid football fan to work at Manchester United; it’s our mission to recruit the best talent for the role. However, you can’t help but support the team, just as you would with any business you work for!
“In the two-and-a-half years that we have been part of Manchester United, we’ve recruited physios, software programmers, coaches, partnership leads, social media specialists, goalkeeping scouts, football analysts, fundraising executives and groundsmen. We’ve even recruited two seat fixers to maintain the 75,000 seats within Old Trafford.
“Understanding the nuances of every role has been critical to our success. From day one, our mission was to build mutually beneficial relationships across the entire business, not just with HR business partners and hiring managers, to understand how this unique puzzle pieces together. Hiring managers now come to us with every role, which is testament to the trust and autonomy of our relationships and having spent the time to get under the skin of the football industry.”
Sarah McGuire, head of talent development and resourcing at Manchester United, added: “I echo Kirsty’s comments in that we’ve been focused as a team to build relationships and centralise the talent function within the club, all whilst demonstrating our expertise and credentials by delivering a consistently excellent service that helped engage those within the club who didn’t necessarily understand the role of our partnership at the outset. We’ve never referred to Kirsty and her team as ‘Morson’ – they live and breathe the club’s brand and are our colleagues.”
Sarah continues: “Having already worked with Morson in a previous role at MAG (Manchester Airports Group), I understood the extensive possibilities and pathways that our partnership could take. Morson was entrenched within MAG, enabling us to operate across three UK airports with 6,000 core staff, whilst recruiting for c.900 roles per year during our peak and delivering added value daily.
“Replicating a similar RPO model, albeit in a completely different industry, has enabled us to work on developing a first-class recruitment service at the club, which also allows us to focus on the complete talent journey. Having tasked Kirsty and her team to quickly fill a backlog of roles, combat costly agency fees and deliver value for money from day one, we’re now focused on adding layers to our partnership and building on this great foundation by developing the club’s employer brand.
“Football is king, which naturally garners the club’s priority focus and investment, but we’re now broadening our scope and taking our employer brand out to market by focusing on elevating candidate experiences, digitising the recruitment journey, proactively taking steps to continue diversifying our workforce, and building future-focussed pipelines of early talent at grass roots level. We’re adding value throughout the entire talent journey by working with hiring managers to attract the right people for long-term careers with the club and sharing the stories of our exceptional talent that sit behind the scenes.
Kirsty added: “Reaping the benefits of an RPO requires a partner whose focus is to solve the clients’ end-to-end talent challenges, and that’s exactly what we’ve delivered and continue to deliver. There are no roles that don’t come to us; bar the players, of course!
“Yet sourcing the right talent doesn’t mean taking the skills from another club. We identify the transferable skills needed to do the job and find those skills within other roles, brands and sectors. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach – we bespoke every hire as the broad range of roles that we recruit for require their own tailored talent attraction campaign that leverages the relevant external networks.”
Sarah concluded: “The pandemic has blurred everyone’s jobs, with the talent team supporting with HR initiatives and conducting welfare checks with staff – and even fans! We’re a united front both on and off the pitch, and the club couldn’t have done any more to support its people. It’s a message that speaks volumes with candidates, especially those who aren’t as confident moving into new roles in such a volatile market, and it’s one that Kirsty, the team and I will continue to share. We’ve come so far and I’m excited to build on the foundation that we’ve laid and continue to evolve our talent model, together.”
RPOne is powered by Morson Group, which for more than 50 years has supported sectors around the globe in sourcing the very best talent, overcoming their recruitment challenges and capitalising on new opportunities with innovative talent solutions.
RPOne is the recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) delivery arm of global talent solutions specialist, Morson Group.
As a boutique facility with 50 years of expertise behind it, RPOne is a complete resourcing service that wraps around an organisation’s brand to redefine its talent strategy.
Placing our client’s ambitions at our heart, we become one with businesses. We listen, understand and curate individual solutions with truly embedded teams that solve challenges whilst filling organisations with talent, expertise, and knowledge for long-term success.
Our mission is simple: offer a flexible RPO solution that scales on demand. Our purpose is empowerment: we enable brands to transform their talent strategy today, tomorrow, and into the future.
RPOne: more than just recruitment, we are your partner to the possible.