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Highlights and Trends in the HRO Market in H1 2014

The HRO market is always buzzing with activity. With the first half of the year over, it’s a good time to examine the key trends by service area.

Benefits Administration:

Benefits administration was a hotbed of activity in H1!  Contracts were awarded across various service lines in the U.S. as well as in the U.K. There was a solid stream of pensions and retirement administration contracts including TRO activity.  In addition, demand for benefits administration SaaS was quite strong.  Examples of deal announcements include:

  • JLT won the DB and DC administration contract by Santander UK covering 100k employees
  • Fidelity won the DC administration contract for FirstEnergy for 21k employees
  • WageWorks expanded its contract with Lowe’s and is providing spending account administration and COBRA administration
  • Towers Watson renewed its retiree exchange contract with Eastman Chemical Company
  • Capita expanded its contract with Wood Group in the U.K. to include occupational health services.


The level of RPO activity continues to be strong.  Like benefits administration, deals flowed steadily from the U.S. and U.K.  Contract examples in H1 include:

  • FutureStep and TalkTalk: 2-year deal in the U.K. including internal and external recruitment as well as contractor and permanent roles
  • Hudson and United Biscuits: 3-year multi-country contract covering end-to-end recruitment processes including specialist role recruitment and executive search
  • Alexander Mann and Statoil: initially focused on Norway, the contract will extend to the U.K., Canada, North America, and South America to recruit ~5k hires per year.


Payroll continued its steady deal flow worldwide with wins across the mid and large market sectors.  Examples include:

  • SafeGuard World and easyJet in the U.K. for 8k employees
  • Aditro and Fennia in Finland for 1.5k employees
  • MidlandHR and Hope Construction Materials in the U.K. for 800 employees.


After a long hiatus, activity for learning services really ramped up in H1. Over the last few years, demand for learning services seemed to come mostly from the public sector.  H1 showed a healthy level of learning activity in both public and private sectors.  


MPHRO activity was also abundant in H1, where the activity was centered around HR administration and payroll services.  Activity consisted of new contracts like Zalaris and Statoil for statutory leave and reconciliation of HR accounts (for Norway), travel & expense services (worldwide), and HR reporting.  Other activity included vendor changes such as NGA HR and BMS.  Also notable is the volume of mid-market MPHRO deals.

The level of M&A activity was in line with H2 2013.  Much of this was in the benefits and RPO areas, which is where we are seeing outsourcing activity.

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