Taking a more holistic approach to talent teams in 2021

Despite the strong argument for refocusing the efforts of in-house talent acquisition specialists to internal talent programs or other areas of the business, many recruitment teams were downsized during 2020. Some businesses were concerned that the team structure did not have the flexibility to respond to post-pandemic, volatile market conditions, others simply needed to dramatically reduce overheads.

Unfortunately, while hiring activity may have slowed or ceased, rising unemployment meant that application volumes were at an all-time high during 2020, and scaled back talent acquisition teams struggled to provide a timely response to applicants and ensure a good candidate experience.

As Australia recovers, employees and job-seekers will remember those companies who supported them, who responded to their job applications, and who provided constructive feedback following an unsuccessful interview. They will also remember those that did not.

When reducing headcount costs, we need to take a more holistic view of the future costs we incur in doing so. It’s not just lost skills and knowledge; a damaged brand and reputation can take years (and a lot of money and effort) to repair.

How can HR and business leaders right-size their talent teams to deliver a quality service to their hiring communities and job applicants, and maintain the flex they need to respond to further changes in the market?

With ongoing border controls, physical distancing, and approved vaccines, the outlook for 2021 looks more positive. However, COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on our economy requiring CEOs to proactively manage their working capital and supply chain on a long-term basis. Rather than focusing on individual people programs, taking a more holistic view of talent acquisition and management offers significant opportunity for cost reduction.

To help manage peaks and troughs in demand, it may be worth considering engaging with an external provider of talent solutions. An outsourced talent solution will give you the opportunity to reduce your fixed costs and, if designed and managed well by an experienced provider, will also reduce spend on recruitment agency fees, advertising, technology, and contingent workers.

There is also a wide range of non-cashable benefits that outsourcing your talent function to an expert provider brings. From best practice processes to improved compliance and workforce management, a partnership with an experienced talent provider can have a significant impact on business productivity and efficiency.

With experience, comes quality…

When you outsource talent acquisition and management to a specialist provider, you will immediately benefit from their experience, networks, and knowledge in niche areas such as employer branding, employee experience, talent sourcing, onboarding, internal mobility, retention, and diversity and inclusion. For a business navigating economic uncertainty and reduced budgets for hiring and training, access to specialist skills in these areas can be transformational in terms of the quality of service you offer your hiring and candidate communities.

….and cost reduction.

Recruitment outsourcing models are designed to improve efficiency and reduce costs. There is a range of outsourcing models available, from permanent recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and managed service programs (MSP) for contingent hiring to short-term and flexible project recruitment solutions.

Typically, you’ll pay a fixed monthly management fee, which gives you certainty of service delivery, plus a transactional fee for each successful hire, which ensures that your talent model is flexible and is always right-sized to your organisation’s hiring needs.

So, is outsourcing right for your business?

From a cost perspective, for an average business with around 600 hires per year, spread across professional and managerial hires and volume roles, an RPO could achieve annualised cost savings of $1.1m. In a year of rebuilding, re-energizing teams, and refocusing on customers, that’s a significant contribution to much-needed programs.

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However, it need not be a question of in-source or out-source. Many businesses are opting for blended models that bring in specialist support for certain projects or areas of the business, or that add flexibility to a recently reduced-size talent team. An outsourced solution can also offer a temporary bridge until you feel confident to make longer-term people decisions.

My advice is to put your customer first. Consider the needs of your hiring communities, your staff, and your candidates, and think about what sort of talent acquisition and management service you want to offer. What are you prepared to forgo, and what aspects of your service are non-negotiable? Most importantly, take the time to evaluate the opportunity cost of any reduction in staffing or service levels - the decision you make now could dramatically affect your business’s ability to bounce back from 2020.


There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but we know that 2021 will continue to demand flexibility, agility, and resilience. We can help you make sure your talent team is built for the same.

At Harrier, we offer a wide range of support models together with a team of Australian-based virtual talent advisors who can quickly support customers across the country with specialist advice and support on an ad-hoc basis.

If you’re interested in how much an outsourced talent solution could save your business, you can access Harrier Talent Solution’s free online calculator here. You can reach out to our team to discuss support and outsourcing options using the form provided.


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