Talent Solutions


RPO vs Staffing Agencies — What’s the Difference?

May 25, 2023

​​In today’s hyper-competitive labor market, organizations struggle to attract and hire the talent they need to remain productive and grow the business. As a result, many employers seek outside help to fulfill their hiring needs. While there are plenty of staffing solutions out there, they’re not all built in the same way or for the same purposes. Knowing which one is right for your business can mean the difference between developing a long-term strategy that delivers top talent or relying on short-term solutions for critical hiring needs.

To help you understand the different options you have when it comes to talent acquisition, let’s go through the three primary hiring solutions you’ll find: recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), staffing agencies, and recruitment agencies.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing

When you outsource your recruiting process to an RPO service provider, they take on part or all of the responsibilities to help you drive productivity and efficiency, enhance the candidate experience, and increase the quality of each hire. In contrast to traditional staffing services, an RPO firm acts as a long-term business partner, working with you to develop a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy and proactively strengthen your candidate pipeline.

RPO recruitment is also designed for flexibility. Whether you need an immediate staffing solution or continued full-lifecycle support, an RPO partner allows you to scale with ease to accommodate low- and high-volume periods. Plus, you gain deep industry knowledge, expertise in niche skill sets, and valuable insights into global hiring trends to attract and secure only the best talent for your organization.

Staffing Agencies

When companies need to expedite the hiring process to fill essential positions on short notice or hire workers for an upcoming project, they often turn to a staffing agency. These agencies typically focus on finding temporary workers, also known as contingent staffing, through an applicant database.

While staffing firms can support your team and secure short-term workers for critical operations or services, the pricing models often mean they’re motivated to hire efficiently, not necessarily effectively. In other words, because you pay a staffing company for every hire, their business model tends to focus on finding the fastest placement rather than the most qualified candidate.

Recruitment Agencies

In contrast to contingent staffing agencies, a traditional recruitment agency specializes in hiring full-time employees. These recruiting services emphasize their ability to attract and retain long-term employees who add value to your organization. However, working with a recruitment agency can lead to the same pitfalls as a staffing firm.

While recruitment agencies offer a pipeline of active candidates to quickly fill open positions, it may be redundant for companies who already have one built out. Additionally, these agencies often use a similar fee system to staffing firms, focusing on a speedy hiring process instead of ensuring each candidate has the skills and personality to fit your company.

The RPO Difference

So, what sets an RPO company apart from other staffing solutions? The main advantage of outsourcing your recruitment process is the lasting business relationship you will develop with your RPO partner.

For instance, when you work with Envision, you’ll get a dedicated team of RPO recruiters who spend time getting to know your business. We live and breathe your company to ensure that every candidate we assess has not just the necessary hard skills but also the crucial culture fit to mesh with your organization. We also monitor and report on key performance metrics — such as time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, candidate experience, and retention levels — to provide you with peace of mind and exceptional results.

When you go RPO, you get:

Proactive Sourcing
Whether you’re contending with fluctuating staffing demands or struggling to meet a consistent hiring need, RPO providers offer a wide range of talent acquisition services to accomplish your business goals. It starts by enhancing your employer brand and streamlining processes to make the hiring process as painless as possible. Then, recruiting experts work with you to strategize and build a proactive pipeline that delivers the right talent when you need it.

Reduced Recruitment Costs
RPO recruitment offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing you to scale your services and workforce to achieve your business goals. When you leverage the power of an RPO partner to handle all of your recruiting needs, you can significantly reduce the use of third-party staffing solutions altogether. In addition, you save even more money on indirect expenses, such as the time it takes and the cost of a bad hire.

A Dedicated Talent Acquisition Partner
With in-depth knowledge of your entire business, your RPO recruiters act as a seamless extension of your internal recruitment function. As the partnership evolves, an RPO partner helps you develop efficient processes and attractive employer branding. When it comes time to engage with candidates, they’ll only communicate on your behalf and always act with your best interests in mind.

What’s the Right Recruitment Strategy For You?

While it’s easy for us to say the right choice is RPO, the real answer will depend on your business’s specific situation. Staffing and recruitment agencies certainly have their place, providing short-term support for seasonal or immediate placements. If you’re seeking a simple transactional relationship to fill a few roles, then contract staffing could be a good solution. But if you want to evolve your recruiting strategy and create proactive processes for competitive talent acquisition, an RPO partner may benefit you more in the long run.

Overcome Your Talent Troubles With Envision

Envision is a leading provider of global talent acquisition solutions. Our flexible RPO models cover everything from short-term hiring projects to full-lifecycle support and more. With deep knowledge of recruiting in a wide range of industries and niche skill sets, we partner with you to source, assess, and secure the best talent for any position.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to the Envision team today.