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24 November 2021

We sat down with Denise Armstrong – Project Manager for Star OUTiCO’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing service – to talk key RPO service benefits, focus on digital capability, and adapting to deliver for clients during the pandemic.

Q.1. Hi Denise, first off, just outline your career history to date.

I fell into the Recruitment industry after returning from maternity leave over 25 years ago, and in that time have managed some high-performing and very successful Recruitment teams across various industry sectors.

While I am experienced in both perm and contract volume Recruitment, I feel that in the last 10 years I have really found my niche within RPO contract Recruitment delivery for the healthcare sector.

Q.2. You head up Star OUTiCO’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) offering; for anyone not sure, just explain what it means.

RPO stands for Recruitment Process Outsourcing. It’s a cost-effective way for organisations to strengthen and enhance their HR and Talent Acquisition team strategies by outsourcing part or all their Recruitment end-to-end processes; from talent sourcing and attraction, on-boarding, screening, offer management, employee engagement and retention once placed.

Prior to the COVID pandemic I developed Star OUTiCO’s IR35 strategy, which led to the successful delivery and implementation of IR35 for our clients and contractors.  We created a series of audits, workshops, and IR35 clinics to educate and advise on the new legislation to ensure all parties were well prepared and aware of the changes. This really allowed our clients to access talent using different contracting models and engagement methods in a compliant and ethical way.

Q.3. What would you say are the key benefits for our RPO clients who take advantage of this service offering?

As specialist recruiters in Pharma and Medical Devices, we work in harmony with our clients as their RPO partner to effectively deliver a streamlined and blended service tailored to their needs which ultimately means that:

  • Clients can utilise an embedded and agile projects resource team that can be scaled up or down in size, depending on clients’ hiring needs.
  • Targeted pipeline and delivery of quality talent into their business which reduces their time to hire

Clients will benefit from cost reductions and saving of their management time using an RPO model as they become less reliant on multiple agencies supplying resource.

  • Only 1 supplier to manage
  • Their ‘Employer Branding’ and compliance is upheld and protected
  • Live reporting and analytics of hiring data, identifying market trends and challenges to come in the market

All of which are under-pinned by Governance and compliance of the RPO contract.

Q.4. What challenges have you and your clients faced over the last 18 months? And how have you positively overcome those challenges and how are you using this to springboard into the future?

Due to the pandemic we immediately expanded our internal project and HR teams to add more resource, so that we were able to facilitate and advise on both a one-to-one basis and collectively for all our contractors and client groups. Using the power of technology, we communicated effectively throughout by using Microsoft teams, Social Media blogs and Digital Platforms.

Undoubtedly the biggest fears we all faced were:

  • Feelings of isolation and separation due to remote working
  • Job security
  • Concerns for loved ones & missing our friends/family
  • Impact of juggling work with home schooling
  • Financial impact and fears of the unknown

We worked hard to address these issues:

  • Offered financial support – created a new policy to support covid sickness and changed our policy for carrying over unused holidays
  • Offered flexibility for those that were dealing with home schooling
  • Encouraged the use of our Employee Assistance Program to all contractors
  • Quarterly Employee Engagement Surveys to listen to the needs of our contractors and action their feedback
  • Listened to our clients so we could mirror their strategies

We conducted weekly contractor events to improve mental health and wellbeing:

  • Remote coffee breaks to ease the pressure and feelings of isolation No agenda just coping with lockdown
  • Seated Yoga and meditation sessions
  • Photo Competition – photos from a recent walk / WFH set up Team quizzes, Digital wellbeing & mindfulness (blog posts) Wellbeing meetings – 1:1 meetings with HR

We partnered with ‘I AM HERE’ a platform which enables cultural change in organizations prioritizing mental health and wellbeing.  It’s ok to say that you’re not OK.

Q.5. The Star OUTiCO RPO offering provides full Recruitment function to our clients. How has the emphasis on digital capability changed the Recruitment process post-COVID, and how has Star OUTiCO adapted its approach?

We upskilled our field teams with a suite of tools to drive digital engagement with healthcare professionals.  Traditional sales techniques became less effective, and HCPs became more willing to explore digital online engagement as opposed to virtual face-to-face meetings, which were halted due to UK lockdown restrictions.

We accelerated our DICE service. ‘Digital In Call Excellence’ improves remote selling capabilities and gives 360-degree insight into field reps performance utilising real health care professionals. 

The new age of digital engagement which Star OUTiCO had been developing for the last 10 years suddenly had a stage and a captive audience. 

Digital engagement had arrived, interviews took place using Zoom and Teams, and new hires joined remotely and managed to convert their home living space into their new office/education workspace.

Q.6. Lastly, what do you feel has been, and continues to be, Star OUTiCO’s key strength in providing the RPO service offering over the last 18 months and beyond?

We have demonstrated our ability to continually develop, embrace and adapt to change through uncertainty. Like so many workplaces in the UK and worldwide, the workplace boundaries that we all knew had changed drastically. 

Technology and people learnt to adapt with a back-drop of uncertainty. As a business we will continue to invest and evolve to add value for our clients and contractor workforce and utilise new technologies and identify effective employee engagement solutions. 

In unpredictable times driven by world changing events, one thing that won’t wain is our passion to overcome obstacles; our agility to react to the unknown.

We will continue to learn and strive to deliver best-in-class market-leading solutions that continually empower our clients and contractor workforce, that ultimately will impact healthcare professionals and patient outcomes.


Connect with Denise on LinkedIn here.

Find out more about our RPO offering here.

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