Staffing vs. RPO – What Do You Really Need?

A host of approaches exist to fill open jobs, and a plethora of tools allow companies to identify talent. However, to ensure that their strategy is successful, companies must understand which approach is the most appropriate for their culture and needs.

Staffing vs. RPO – What Do You Really Need?

Staffing vs. RPO – What Do You Really Need?

In a tight labor market, having an effective talent acquisition team and a strategy in place to hire the best candidate for your organization is critical. And a system that is scalable and one that is built for today’s knowledge-driven economy can ensure that you have the best opportunity to fill open roles with qualified, engaged employees. However, that’s easier said than done.

A host of approaches exist to fill open jobs, and a plethora of tools allow companies to identify talent. However, to ensure that their strategy is successful, companies must understand which approach is the most appropriate for their culture and needs. And here lies the debate between staffing and RPO. What’s the difference? Which one is better for your organization? Let’s examine the two options and see how they can help your business.

What Is Staffing?

Staffing refers to a formal, structured process that treats talent acquisition, training, and retaining as the responsibility of the managerial department. The main aim is to fill the open roles within the company with competent candidates.

In essence, some of the core staffing activities pertain to the profiling of the job position, selection of suitable candidates, establishment of performance standards, evaluation of their performance, and continuous training & development.

Notably, staffing can be carried out in-house or adopted as an outsourced function. The latter is handled by a staffing or recruitment agency. Of course, the capabilities of both approaches differ with respect to the extent of involvement, resources at disposal, expertise at play, and cost that the company incurs. However, in a nutshell, and in general, the viability of the staffing practice stems from the following attributes:


Considering the fact that staffing allows for the onboarding of a contract workforce on an as-needed basis, applicants can be employed at a fraction of what it would cost to hire full-time employees.


Staffing immediately works to enhance performance across organizational functions. Staffing also ensures that all the resources are utilized efficiently. For that, recruitment through staffing utilizes technology, capital, material, and more.

Process Management

The staffing agency can streamline the recruitment process from start to finish, including sourcing, screening and evaluation, and selection — while also heading the administrative tasks. This can lead to enhanced efficiency and the establishment of proper metrics.

However, staffing can also lead to issues such as:

  • Staffing can, at times, prove to be an ineffective team-building exercise
  • Contract buyout fees comes to the fore in case the business decides to keep the temp staff permanently
  • At times, the people at the staffing agency might not be adept at understanding the nuances of a particular industry

What Is RPO?

The process where companies outsource some or all the recruiting processes to an outside provider is known as Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). This recruitment technique is aimed at improving productivity and profitability.

Outsourcing companies do everything from writing job descriptions, screening candidates, improving employer branding, and conducting onboarding programs. Using RPO can help companies to fill long-term roles, cut extra costs, and make decisions faster. It is also noted that RPOs have a larger network of candidates to choose from than traditional staffing firms, which can be a plus for companies.

It’s noteworthy that RPO is a more strategic approach that can be implemented over a more extended period. Besides, expertise within particular industries is one of the key reasons that companies often turn to RPO. To that end, the RPO model works wonders based on the following attributes:

Data-Driven Approach

The modern-day RPO is driven by data where the partner employs Big Data analytics to identify, source, and screen candidates. Beyond the identification and screening process, this ensures that the engagement is long-term with measurable results, leading to improved hiring efficiency for the client.

Long-Term Results

This is unlike other staffing models where decisions are made on a day-to-day basis and the association for a short period. RPO services help businesses nurture their recruitment strategy, have a clear vision of the company’s needs, plan accordingly, and create a positive hiring experience for candidates. As such, RPO services drive the creation of talent pipelines that later can be leveraged to ensure consistent access to competent resources.


What stands out with RPO is the fact that this outsourcing model takes away the risk of getting it wrong. RPO service provider remains accountable for outcomes. In this context, the investment made by businesses to improve their employment brand value and candidate experience is the primary responsibility of the RPO service provider. 

Are there cons to using RPO? Well, there can be. Although RPO is a more strategic model, there are some cons that businesses need to be aware of, such as:

  • Giving up control of granular hiring decisions might not bode well with some managers. Hence, it’s important for them to evaluate the service provider for its ability to make decisions on their behalf.
  • Outsourcing talent acquisition can be tricky because no one knows your company better than your employees – or at least for the initial phase. Again, it comes down to partnering with a competent service provider.

So, Staffing or RPO? What to Choose?

So far, it’s clear that both staffing and RPO can help a business ease the burden of hiring. And, in fact, more than that. It’s noteworthy though that when you choose RPO, you outsource not only the hiring operations but also job profiling, staffing, and reporting, which helps you save time and money.

In any case, it’s best to cite what you need the most and then proceed with selecting the right approach. It’s also important to understand that while RPO is a more strategic model, staffing can be an effective solution for short-term projects and staffing gaps. Therefore, it’s prudent to decide on the right path depending on the needs of your business.

Connect with us to learn more about how an effective, data-driven people practice can yield better results for your business.


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