In the midst of what most folks describe as a talent shortage, it's not surprising that many companies are choosing to outsource their human resources functions to specialists to help locate the right hires and bring them on board.
One company that has done so is Eastman Kodak. Elizabeth Petro, its director of talent acquisition and strategy development, discussed the company's experience at the Outsourcing Institute RoadShow in Chicago, hosted by the Baker & McKenzie law firm, which I attended earlier this week.
Kodak employs 27,000 people, 53 percent of them in the U.S. It had already supplemented its internal HR function with outside providers, says Petro, largely because internal folks focused so closely on cost control during several years of downsizing that they "forgot how to hire." After conducting a detailed examination of its hiring process flow, Kodak realized it had too many service providers, with too many hand-offs between them. And it was failing to meet its time-to-fill and diversity metrics. Kodak decided to centralize hiring under its shared services organization and began looking for a single supplier that could handle its needs.
On its short list of criteria: It wanted a provider that could provide end-to-end HR capabilities, from sourcing to on-boarding, preferably one that could provide both permanent and contingent hires. The provider had to be global in scope, financially stable, possess compliance expertise, include an IT solution as part of its offering, and be able to help Kodak meet its diversity objectives.
Kodak made its decision in an impressively short time frame, launching an RFP early last July and selecting an HR outsourcing provider in less than two months. Why the aggressive time line? Contracts with its existing suppliers were expiring, says Petro. While you can let an RFP "go on and on and on," she says, it's better to streamline the process by spending plenty of time defining what you want before ever issuing the RFP.
Assisted by the Outsourcing Institute, Kodak started with a list of 50 potential candidates, which it whittled down to seven and then to four. The four contenders gave presentations to Kodak in late August. After selecting two finalists, Kodak conducted site visits, checked client references and performed other due diligence. It announced its choice, Pinstripe, in September. Implementation got under way in October, and Pinstripe took over Kodak's HR functions on Jan. 1.
Kodak's hiring process is now simpler and involves far less paper than in the past, says Petro. It is attracting more candidates with the right kind of experience. A key metric: It more than doubled its hiring volume during Q1 . Still on the company's to-do list: creating a new and more positive hiring brand, developing employee orientation and referral programs, and hiring in new areas, including Europe.
The brave Petro agreed to have much of Kodak's vendor selection process videotaped. Though I made a premature exit to catch a flight, and thus didn't see the entire video, I did view a 2-minute preview aired during Petro's presentation. The soundtrack and film editing are obviously designed to build maximum tension -- someone involved in the project has seen a few too many movie trailers -- but I suspect the actual process included its share of dramatic moments. Though companies have gotten pretty good at outsourcing, there will probably always be enough uncertainty involved to make it an inherently dramatic process.