The Hateful Love of Staffing

ThinkstockPhotos-467279883Are staffing companies and recruiting firms still seen as a necessary evil?

According to an October 2015 report by Staffing Industry Analysts, buyers gave their primary staffing suppliers a Net Promoter Score of -4%. A measure of customer loyalty, these scores can range from -100% to 100%.

As a point of comparison, US Airways, whose employees are known for rudeness and poor customer service, had a Net Promoter Score of -8% in 2014. Ever-popular Southwest Airlines scored 62% that same year.

So, based upon this survey, satisfaction of primary staffing suppliers is just four points better than US Airways, a negligible difference on a 200-point scale.

Now, compare that to comments from a panel of chief executives of four of the largest healthcare staffing firms. At the Healthcare Staffing Summit in Las Vegas in September 2015, these panelist agreed that their services are not currently viewed as a necessary evil. Instead, the consensus was that buyers value their companies’ contributions and partnership.

So, which is correct: the survey or the CEOs?

Most likely both.

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Right now healthcare facilities, like many businesses, have scores of open jobs and not enough acceptable candidates to fill them. Smartly, their leaders have turned to the staffing industry for additional help.

These same organizations often treat staffing as a commodity, pressuring their vendors on price. They can be quick to cast one supplier aside for another, even when the current one has done excellent work.

Shifting attitudes about the staffing industry reminds me of how many people feel about insurance. Calling insurance a necessary evil, they wish it were optional, especially each time the bill comes due. However, when they have a claim, they’re glad it’s there, expecting it to solve their problems quickly and effectively.

Even though many people dislike having to buy insurance, they know there are legal and business requirements to do so. That’s why the much maligned insurance industry has such high market penetration.

But what about staffing, a service that enjoys no such mandate to use its services? According to Eric Gregg, CEO of Inavero, its recent survey of buyers (with partner CareerBuilder) found that only 32% of companies used staffing this past year.

Many companies aren’t very good at hiring. When they hire on their own, their efforts come with zero guarantees. Yet, more than two-thirds still go it alone.

How can staffing and recruiting firms eliminate the hate and leverage more of the love of their services? What effect would this have on how many companies buy each year?

The key is impact. Firms that delivery more impact in more creative and sustainable ways have significantly higher NPS scores than those who do not.

Where should you start? There are five areas of impact. By honestly exploring each, companies can add or expand that impact.

In reviewing each area, I suggest answering these questions, along with creating a few of your own:

Impact #1 – Flexibility. How can we deliver more flexible solutions that solve more of our customers’ problems?

Impact #2 – Accuracy. How accurate is our matching of jobs and candidates? What do we need to change to achieve near perfection?

Impact #3 – Quality. Where is our quality of talent or service inconsistent? How we will leverage our strengths to improve our quality?

Impact #4 – Value. What is valuable to our customers? How can we deliver more of that value?

Impact #5 – Immediacy.  Customers typically need someone yesterday. How do we deliver more of the talent they need the moment they call?

The current low market penetration of staffing points to tremendous untapped potential that benefits all parties. Tapping that potential will only happen if staffing and recruitment firms increase their impact, getting rid of the hate and increasing the love.

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Scott Wintrip
Scott Wintrip is the president of the Wintrip Consulting Group and StaffingU. He was named to the Staffing 100 by Staffing Industry Analysts in 2011-2014. He can be reached at scott (at) ScottWintrip (dot) com.

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