A Staffing Provider and Customer’s Ultimate Game Plan

May 10, 2017 Posted by Bill Ryle

According to the American Staffing Association, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census, and Staffing Industry Analysts, there are an estimated 17,000 U.S. staffing firms and 12.9 million temporary and contract employees hired by them over the course of a year.

Organizations working to deliver new business initiatives use contract talent for several reasons: there may be a shortage of internal resources; there are existing gaps of subject expertise within their own organization; or perhaps the business is deciding to dedicate internal resources exclusively to their corporate competence, while engaging outside specialists to deliver support in areas they do not want to own.

What does this have to do with your organization?

Let’s look at a real-world example of contract talent being used. A manufacturer of golf club heads may decide to forgo hiring technical employees to deploy, customize, and maintain their ERP system, and prefer to outsource this responsibility to experts. Transitioning these responsibilities enables the manufacturer to focus all their efforts in architecting and building the sport’s best state-of-the-art golf club heads for golfers of all levels – including those like me whose primary skilled strikes are dub, flub, spray, dribble (my specialty), and shank. This is also the reason many organizations are now leveraging hosting services to fully dedicate their internal resources to the company mission and vision. They aim to do this while allocating extracurricular activities to specialists — kind of like a caddy carrying clubs for a professional golfer.

For all involved parties, including the contingent staffing providers, customers, and candidates, elements of the relationship must fully align in harmony. This alignment allows the staffing provider to identify and engage the right talent who is competent, available, and committed to complete the work the customer needs delivered. To create this harmony, it’s important that the provider and customer have a solid agreed upon relationship plan in place. Why? Because both parties are working together towards the same objective and if they are not working in tandem, neither party will benefit.  If neither party is benefitting, then the talent your customer needs will continue to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

What are key attributes of a prospering provider and customer-relationship game plan? In my experience, these six are some of the most important relationship elements required to deliver success:

  • Overcommunication – Today’s technology options enable efficient collaboration through several advanced channels including e-mail, phone, voice mail, chat, text, and wooden conference tables (aka face-to-face conversations – my favorite!). When a provider and customer are communicating with agreed upon regular cadence, updates are shared and progress (or lack of) towards agreed upon expectations are never a surprise.Overcommunication enables both the provider and the customer to eliminate wasted time, pivot their strategy if needed, and streamline a more efficient engagement process. This also provides candidates visibility to their job search prospects, enabling them to evaluate their options.
  • Aligned Expectations – Providers are paid for their expertise and ability to deliver in their respective field. Providers are accountable to educate customers relative to the candidate marketplace, pricing, compensation, timing, availability, and other important factors. It’s the provider’s duty to guide the establishment of appropriate, realistic, and agreed upon expectations for the relationship for each engagement opportunity. The most effective partnerships exist when the provider and customer establish reasonable and agreed upon milestones.
  • Select partnerships – When customers work with an abundance of providers, the relationships naturally become diluted and communication can become intermittent. Oftentimes, the provider may not have access to the manager(s) who rely on contingent talent to complete their objectives, leaving potential gaps in requirements and possibly delaying the talent acquisition process. The reason that some organizations do not advocate communication between providers and managers is understandable – the managers have their individual objectives to achieve and conversing with several providers throughout the day puts their workflow behind. With fewer, more established partnerships, the relationship has a shorter learning curve, deeper understanding of delivery expectations, quicker identification and resolution of challenges, and improved quality communications at a greater cadence – all of which create increased efficiency and more success for everyone.
  • Business Insight – Providers are also obligated to understand their customers’ business including industry trends, competition, financial performance, company objectives, community involvement, and other important elements. With this knowledge, more insightful and meaningful conversations happen during the customer requirement discovery. This knowledge also enables providers to more articulately educate and interview potential candidates. Providers should know the “Why” before the “What.”
  • Transparency – Through the recruitment process, things naturally change. Customer business problems shift and business priorities change. In addition, the candidate marketplace is in continual flux as most candidates in the contingent talent space are looking for new opportunities and typically have a pipeline of possibilities. When these changes are communicated across parties as they occur, harmony exists. In addition, if incorrect expectations by either occur, the risk increases that harmony you work to create in the form of a delivered start will not transpire.
  • Accountability – In successful engagements, all parties involved through the talent acquisition process hold themselves and each other accountable to the first five attributes in successful partnerships. Accountability is the framework which integrates these attributes into a successful engagement process.

When reviewing all six attributes, it’s clear that effective communication is the common denominator. As social beings, doesn’t it always seem to come down to communication? As George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Take a look at your current relationship with your staffing provider and ask yourself if these six attributes are present. To deliver success to clients, a staffing provider should be working towards building these elements within each partnership. If the current relationships you have in place today are not fully optimized, we can help. Connect with me on LinkedIn and lets talk!

About the Author:

Bill Ryle is an Account Executive with SmartIT with 18 years of talent acquisition and delivery experience supporting customers in diverse industry sectors including banking, financial services, healthcare, higher education, and logistics. Focused on what organizations need to advance their initiatives, Bill enjoys consultative, strategic, and educational conversations with customers.