Relationships are critical to companies that rely on staffing firms

Employers that have struggled to build a strong relationship with companies in the staffing industry should analyze the net promoter scores (NPS) of the firms they have used, says James Krouse, Director of Marketing and Communication at Nesco Resource.

NPS is a business metric that measures how likely someone is to recommend a company’s products or services to friends or colleagues. It’s a metric considered more accurate than traditional customer satisfaction ratings.

“Satisfaction is subjective,” Krouse says. “It can mean just meeting a minimum standard for example. NPS is really about putting your own credibility on the line based on your experience. This is critical in the staffing industry because service to both employers and job seekers is a key differentiator.”

In the staffing industry, the NPS is separated between the client side and the talent side. These scores are generally very low for the staffing industry overall, Krouse says.

“Staffing firms are having difficulty finding the right people for the right jobs because the unemployment rate is so low,” he says. “But it goes deeper than that. A lot of staffing agencies are not offering the consultation on attracting and retaining that their clients need now more than ever.”

Smart Business spoke with Krouse about why the NPS is a useful tool for companies that fill positions through the staffing industry.

Why is the NPS low for the staffing industry?
There was huge growth in the staffing industry that coincided with the dip in the economy in 2008. A lot of companies turned toward contingent labor in order to help them survive and/or continue to grow their business.

Now we’re at a point where expertise is needed to deliver the high level of service that must be present through this economic cycle of low unemployment. Some staffing agencies haven’t been able to reconfigure who they are in order to deliver a more consultative approach.

Often staffing firms will commit to finding talent quickly. These are individuals who are available at the lowest rates possible, but they may come up short on skills or reliability. That experience would not garner a very high NPS.

Many in the industry point toward a low unemployment rate. That certainly is a factor, but the core problem is about communication. Is the pay rate competitive in the market? Is the timeline too tight to fill the order? Which skills are essential and which are not? In the end, companies tend to value communication and a good working relationship.

How does the NPS rate on the talent side?
The industry average on the client side is very low, 4 percent, but talent scores industry wide are only 24 percent. That leaves a lot of room for growth. Again, communication is key. It’s not just about someone walking into a staffing firm and then getting put into the first job that is available.

If there is not communication about what the job is going to be like and whether it is a good fit with the individual, it’s not going to be good for that person or the client. The worker is not going to be engaged in what they are doing and performance will suffer. That’s why it’s important to look at both client and talent scores.

What can staffing firms and clients do to boost performance?
There needs to be an emphasis placed on people and relationships. There need to be conversations with prospective workers about what they want in a position and where they feel they would be a good fit.

Expectations also need to be made clear with the client so that the staffing firm can identify candidates that are qualified and engaged in the available opportunity.

The staffing firms that rate highest in the NPS maintain a continuous dialogue with clients and survey the talent at the beginning, middle and end of their assignments to get a comprehensive analysis of how it worked out. Looking at the NPS for both the client and talent sides gives you a complete picture of how effective a staffing firm will be. It’s an essential combination for a successful long-term partnership in staffing.

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How hackathons help companies connect people with their passions

Take advantage of the passion that your employees bring to their work each day and the results will show in a stronger culture and more creative thinking that will ultimately benefit your customers, says James Krouse, director of marketing and communication at Nesco Resource. Nesco is the producer of the Cleveland Medical Hackathon.

“People are more passionate about what they do today than ever,” Krouse says. “If we can engage with them beyond their skills in ways that speaks to their passions, we begin to tackle large challenges that plague departments, companies, and even whole industry sectors.”

Hackathons were once only seen in the tech world, but they have quickly spread to other sectors where complex challenges and solutions are tackled in a relatively short, but intense period of time. Organizations use the concept to take hours and even days to eliminate all distractions and focus on identifying and solving challenges.

“Devoting a significant period of time to one activity can be difficult, but often, people can get a lot more done in eight hours than in eight one-hour meetings,” Krouse says.

Smart Business spoke with Krouse about how hackathons can strengthen your culture and boost productivity.

What is the goal of a hackathon?

The whole idea of a hack is to take something apart and put it back together to make it do what you want it to do. It’s an opportunity to engage people who are excited about what they do and are willing to devote eight, 24 or 48 hours to work on solving a problem.

The solution is typically not ready for market, but the process builds momentum to move the team closer to reaching that ultimate goal. You certainly have talent and expertise that can be applied to making changes and figuring things out. Why not leverage that talent to the advantage of your business and your customers?

How can hackathons be used as a recruiting tool?

Companies are continually looking for new and different ways to bring talent into their organizations. By hosting, sponsoring, and participating in a hackathon, you’re doing several things to engage with talented individuals.

First, you’re sending a message that you’re willing to take a different approach to how work gets done. That has appeal to people across generations, particularly millennials. You’re also presenting your company as a dynamic organization that is going to set forth challenges and then aggressively and collaboratively go about solving them. Finally, you have the opportunity to identify and engage with individuals who are interested in solving the same challenge you are. Again, it’s looking beyond skillsets to passions that drive people.

Do you have advice on hosting a hackathon for the first time?

If you are going to host an event that is open to people outside your company, you need to be open to not completely controlling the agenda. For example, making participants sign a contract that says anything produced at the event belongs to that company could shut out a lot of valuable creativity that makes these events worthwhile. Sometimes there is concern with using the word “hackathon.” If that’s a stumbling block for your organization, don’t be afraid to use another term to describe your event that’s creative and sends the message that this is not business as usual.

What’s the key to maximizing your return on the event?

Be sure to document and publish all the work that took place at the event either in print or online. That goes a long way toward building engagement. And if somebody creates a project that has growth potential, maintain engagement with the team to keep pushing it forward. Anything that recognizes the work that is being done and demonstrates a genuine effort to build on that momentum is extremely valuable. If you’re using the event as a recruiting tool, you need the infrastructure to put participants interested in joining your team who have skills that you’re looking for on the path to be hired. Hackathon participants are passionate about what they do and can be an important resource for recruiting talent in the near and long term.

Insights Workforce Management is brought to you by Nesco Resource