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An Interview With The Founder Of People*Strata, A Recruitment-Automation-As-A-Service Firm Creating The Future Of Talent Acquisition

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George Marc-Aurele founded People*Strata to help companies solve for the mis-alignment he recognized in the models that have traditionally been utilized to recruit and hire talent. After two decades as a leading HR and talent consultant and ultimately as a Chief People Officer winning 18 company culture and ‘Best Places to Work’ awards, George brings a wealth of expertise and a unique perspective to design and implement custom programs for each business that he works with.

In People*Strata, George has created a unique utility model that provides companies with immediate “bolt-on” access to top-level expertise in talent acquisition that is dedicated as a fully functioning recruiting department. People*Strata partners closely with company leadership to design a custom program and then operates as an embedded, seamless extension of the company talent brand. This professional services model delivers superior quality hiring outcomes for less total investment than hiring a team.

Below is our recent interview with George Marc-Aurele, founder of People*Strata:

Q: Do you think enough C-Level focus is given to the importance of the talent acquisition function in general?

A: I think the answer is both yes and no. Yes, in that talent acquisition generally draws attention from leadership when it is perceived to be not working as well as it should.

But also no, because in my experience as both a member of C-Level teams and as an advisor to them, I have been part of many planning and strategy sessions. At some point the question of how to effectively invest in and conduct talent operations – sourcing, recruiting, hiring and the people, tools and software necessary to efficiently do so – will come up and be discussed, and I generally ask the group this question –

“Since all companies can only achieve their goals through the employees that execute the daily operations and strategy, is anything more critical than identifying and ensuring that we only make high-quality hires?”

Leadership teams nearly always agree that quality hiring protocols and results are of utmost importance. But so often CFO’s and/or COO’s tend to view employees in two groups – revenue producing and non-revenue producing. And as planning sessions continue, the focus inevitably shifts to fortifying the teams that they consider revenue producing, such as sales, account management, etc., but notably not HR or Talent Acquisition. What most leadership teams fail to grasp time and time again, is that whoever recruits, hires and cares for the revenue producers and operators are literally the architects that are building and maintaining the revenue engine of your company.

So the ultimate answer is no, most C-Level leadership does not view high-quality recruiting in the proper light. But this has been changing over time, especially with the new generation of founders and CEO’s, and that is good news for everyone.

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Q: What is the danger of a ‘bad hire’?

A: The quality of a company’s selection and hiring process affects the entire company, as a very bad hire can negatively impact many others across multiple teams. Most times these are not bad people, but they are misaligned to your firm’s values and/or the role they find themselves in, and will usually create a great deal of collateral damage. Several bad hires can actually put a smaller company on the road to bankruptcy. Research shows that your best performers will quietly resign rather than work with those they believe do not share their values or professionalism. Many times the trend continues for long periods before leadership will realize what is happening. Without solid feedback loops, managers are left to wonder why their best people have decided to leave. And worse yet, the steps required to cure the situation can be even more costly, in lawsuits, business disruption, reputation and brand damage and sometimes loss of key clients.

Q: You call the People*Strata model a ‘bolt-on” talent center of excellence. What does that mean?

A: People*Strata is a ‘Recruitment Automation as a Service’ (RAAAS) firm, offering a completely unique model to HR, Finance and Operations leaders. First and foremost, we are a utility much like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud services. Each company’s need for hiring has peaks and valleys. The need for recruiting is never consistent or static, so we solve that with our model. Our veteran team partners with clients’ leadership to design and deploy fully aligned and integrated talent acquisition systems that raise hiring quality and efficiency across the board, and scale up or down depending on the business cycle of each company.

People*Strata operates as either a complement to current internal resources or as an entire talent acquisition department seamlessly embedded as a “bolt-on” to clients’ operations. ROI accrues from day one, as our professional services are 1) billed within a flat monthly structure, 2) perfectly scalable to align with your changing business needs, and 3) allow for unlimited hiring with no additional cost or risk – ever.

The best part is that our services are delivered at the same cost or less than hiring employees.

Q: What are some of the metrics by which you feel CHROs should be measuring their talent acquisition efforts?

A: I think that all too often CHROs look toward volume-related metrics vs. efficiency-related metrics and the reason is twofold; #1 – All hiring managers like volume, but especially hiring managers that are not trained well in hiring practices. They have a habit of trying to “compare” as many candidates as possible, sort of like shopping for produce. That is not a good model for candidate experience or data-driven decision making. #2 – Volume is easy to measure. But more is not always better. Accurately measuring the man-hours invested in extra interviews is time consuming, but reducing those by 50% will give all of that time back to the interviewers to perform their job that contributes to the company bottom line. So that is an extremely valuable metric. And the same with Time to Productivity. Almost no company measures it because they generally have no idea how to do something like that. At People*Strata we challenge clients to hold us accountable to metrics that matter. Examples are…

• Time to hire
• Quality of Hire
• Cost per Hire
• Interview Efficiency
• Time to Productivity

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Q: What are the benefits of the People*Strata model compared to other Talent Acquisition models?

A: Well, I think the easiest way to illustrate the benefits is to walk through the most common models that companies utilize and note how the People*Strata model solves for their limitations.

In-house recruitment team: I always think of the chicken and the egg question here. To build an in-house function requires your company to dedicate time, energy and resources to do the very thing that the company recognizes it does not have the ability to effectively do. So the company “rolls the dice” and hopes to identify and hire properly to create this ability. Once the team is hired, one or more of the leadership must be tasked with the management of the function. Very large companies with a CHRO will generally have recruitment live there, but important to note is that talent acquisition is a completely different function from HR, but that is a different conversation. So the issues that arise here are many; such as when a recruiter resigns, you must find a way to refill that position immediately and your talent acquisition efforts stop cold during that period resulting in huge losses in productivity. Cost rises every year as the salaried recruiter(s) desires career path and compensation increases. The need for recruiting is not static, it rises and falls but you must pay your recruiters consistently throughout all the lower volume periods. Bottom line – recruiting is a critical function for your business, but recognize that the expertise lies outside of your actual business mission. Seeing recruiting as the utility/commodity that it actually is and partnering with an expert is the ideal solution.

Contract recruiters: Typical Contract recruiters are specialists in one or two disciplines (such as Tech, Finance, etc), and they can have difficulty fulfilling the total hiring needs across an entire company. They are paid per hour, every hour, for as long as their contract is in force, so they are actually incentivized to perpetuate the length of their engagement rather than produce excellent outcomes. This creates mis-alignment from day one. Also, as with any contractor or employee, you are always at risk of a resignation for a higher paying role, many times at your competitor.

Contingency ‘fee-for-hire’ recruitment agency: And here we have the worst of all worlds! Almost zero alignment exists here because these agencies know that they can never do all of your hiring under their exorbitant fee structures. So they are motivated to have you hire as many people as they can as quickly as possible before they are deemed unaffordable. Most will schedule as many interviews as possible with your hiring managers with little quality control so as to increase the chance of that transactional hire and fees. A huge amount of time is taken up during these interviews, versus that time being productive in your core business mission, and many times a hire ends up being made through pressure tactics by the agency. They love to tell you that the candidate will be accepting another role soon, “but you are their first choice!”. These agencies are paid in full as long as the new hire can last 90 days in their role.

People*Strata: People*Strata becomes an integrated partner that is 100% aligned to providing talent that drives your business results. Our team becomes wholly versed in your culture and values, recruiting in market as a seamless extension of your core team, allowing your business people to remain focused on executing their core business mission. This approach solves all of the issues present in other models – cost, risk, alignment, etc. – and for that reason People*Strata is the future of talent acquisition.

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