As client relationships mature, coming up with new ways to create value and strengthen partnerships can be difficult in any industry. But creating added value for clients and end users can be especially challenging for staffing firms, because after a few years, most of the opportunities to lower costs and improve service delivery have been identified and implemented.
Here at eTeam, we’ve come up with a solution to this difficult problem. We’re distinguishing ourselves from our competitors and forging stronger alliances across the entire supply chain by supporting the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives of our clients.
Re-investing a generous portion of our net profits in client-led educational, philanthropic and social initiatives not only not only fosters alignment on a tactical, strategic and operational level, it creates emotional alignment and karmic relationships with managed service provers (MSPs) and staffing clients.
Most relationships between buyers and sellers are transaction-driven according to research by Dr. Joseph L. Cavinato, professor of Supply Chain Management at Thunderbird School of Global Management. Creating a charter of jointly held beliefs and values engenders trust and interdependent relationships that not only survive, but thrive over time.Most importantly, by playing an active role in our clients’ success, we’re demonstrating our sincere interest in helping our partners succeed.
What tangible benefits do clients reap from our enthusiastic support and investments? Here are six ways that sponsoring clients’ CSR initiatives creates shared values and stronger alliances.
1. Workforce Development. CSR initiatives generate interest in specific industries and careers by providing education and training to prepare the next generation workforce. For example, we’re supporting our end client in San Diego by investing in “Thinkabit” lab equipment for middle school students to stimulate interest in STEM careers.
We also sponsor training initiatives that help returning military veterans acquire new skills and transition to civilian careers. Over time, investments in education and training programs not only increase the size and quality of the local labor pool, they deliver superior service and customer satisfaction by improving time-to-fill, cycle times and submittal rates. Making joint investments in our future labor force has given us a seat at the table and given our relationships with MSPs and their clients a higher purpose and altruistic focus.
2. Customer Engagement. According to a May 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, 82 percent of U.S. consumers consider an organization’s social responsibility when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop. So sponsoring social initiatives not only helps our clients win new customers, it drives top-line growth.
3. Differentiation. Embedding CSR into your supplier base validates your firm’s commitment to fair and ethical business practices and raises your cachet and visibility. Given the growing importance of CSR in today’s business world, having fully engaged staffing partners creates a competitive advantage for any organization.
4. Community Goodwill. Participating in outside activities fosters goodwill, strengthens ties with the community, and gives everyone across the supply chain the opportunity to rub elbows with local leaders. For example, we recently sponsored a golf tournament, raised more than $140,000 for Sacramento children’s charities. Supporting the communities we jointly serve is essential to building and maintaining public trust.
5. Employer of Choice Status. Employees, especially Millennials, value opportunities to volunteer and they are attracted to companies that practice social responsibility. Studies also show that CSR improves employee morale and is a key driver of engagement. With CSR becoming the main way organizations attract and retain talent, uniting staffing suppliers and clients in philanthropic endeavors can give both parties an edge in recruiting by enhancing their reputations as employers of choice in the eyes of quality candidates.
6. Higher Scores. To encourage supplier involvement, clients are integrating CSR metrics into their balanced scorecards. Researchers claim that the strategy is important for formalizing a shared vision and driving joint participation in activities. Of course, having a higher tally on balanced scorecards is the ultimate benefit for clients because it means we’re also providing quality workers and top notch service at competitive rates.
When done right, through the spirit of partnership and shared values, staffing firms can help their clients achieve their CSR goals, enhance their reputations, and achieve better business results.