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October 28, 2020

Creating a Human Resources and Staffing Firm Dynamic That Will Secure Top Talent

The interplay between a company's human resources team and staffing firm has always been an interesting topic. Sometimes these parties work perfectly together, forming a symbiotic relationship that produces win after win. At other times there can be a disconnect, resulting in what we’ll politely describe as less desirable outcomes. If you’re in one of those “less desirable” situations, here’s how you can turn that relationship around.

To know good staffing is to know your yourself

Getting the best out of any relationship is about first understanding what you bring to the table: views, goals, strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between. The bond between an internal HR department and a staffing firm can be seen in the same light: in order to create a healthy and fulfilling relationship, you must first gain a deeper understanding of your organization.

The process begins by understanding your business outcomes: what are the strategic goals for the organization? What is driving it forward? With these broad goals defined, you can then work backwards, identifying both the hard and soft skills that you need to realize in years to come.

Once you understand who you are, dive into who the company you’re working for is and why they do what they do. “I tell my department that we don’t want to recruit for today – we want to recruit for the future,” Priscilla Torres, Director of Organization and Talent Development at Health Choice Network, instructs. 

“It isn’t enough to simply know the skillsets that you need,” stated Torres. Culture arguably plays a more important role, particularly in a job market currently awash with talent. It’s important to find a recruiting partner who will act as a true advocate for your organization: one that understands your culture and the employees who will thrive within it.

In an ideal world recruiters will act more as an extension of an organization rather than a simple supplier of talent.

Using data and staffing partnerships to grow

A combination of extremely low turnover rate and high engagement scores indicates that the strategy Health Choice Network put in place is working. Using such a data-driven approach is key, as it also facilitates ongoing adaptability and  allows companies to identify trends, understand where the market is moving, and adapt quickly during a pandemic. Although, an adaptation like the one we are going through now is no easy feat – after partnering with a staffing firm, Health Choice Network has gone from posting 5 open positions and receiving minimal responses per year, to  receiving 400 candidate applications a week.

In order to move forward in such a time of hardship and growth, “it’s important that a HR department understands its own limitations,” says Torres. “We oversee all functions of HR; recruitment is just a small part of what we do. A team of three can’t deal with 400 candidates per week.” That’s where the right partner comes into play.

As a staffing firm, your next job is to sift through those 400 candidates to find the most relevant candidates for the job openings. This drives home the importance of a company partnering with the right firm: a recruiter who has talked to the internal HR team and has taken the time to understand it’s culture will be able to find those talented needles in the haystack. More transactional recruiters, who don’t invest time in understanding candidates nor clients, will not, which will lead to higher turnover.

“How can a staffing firm advocate for Health Choice Network without… getting a sense of the culture? The bright colors, the open plan, our state-of-the-art gym, our wellness rooms – I’m excited about these things, so it’s about finding an organization who can help drive that excitement. Those are the relationships you want to foster, because they’ll ultimately be a representation of your own team and organization.”

Good for the candidate, good for the company

At a time when certain recruiters and HR professionals are simply ‘ghosting’ candidates due to the sheer number that are looking for work, Torres firmly believes that every candidate should have at least one touchpoint, even if it’s ‘hey, we don’t feel as though you’re a good fit… here’s why.’ From the candidate side the recognition is appreciated and constructive criticism can prove invaluable. This approach enhances the employer brand, and can even turn unsuccessful candidates into ambassadors. The touch points should continue for more successful candidates. With recruiting activity exploding, it’s time to take a step back and assess how to provide a scaled-up, repeatable experience. If you don’t have a software platform to assist you, it’s vital to provide recruiters with a way to deliver a streamlined onboarding experience. An onboarding checklist can be helpful here, one that identifies what is required for a new team member to be successful in the first 90 days. As a simple example, an onboarding process might be made up of the following touch points:

  • Create a simple application with as little clicks and fields to complete as possible
  • Make signing paperwork easy: It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to complete
  • Get the paperwork signed
  • Deliver a welcome pack
  • Meet the team and organizational stakeholders
  • Assign a buddy
  • Undertake training
  • Meet clients/external stakeholders
  • 30-day check-in
  • 60-day check-in
  • 90-day check-in
  • Solicit feedback on the process via a survey or interview

To some degree this process is self-serving – bringing a good level of detail and structure to onboarding helps the new worker, which in turn sets the organization up for success.

The perks of being a good citizen

Uncertainty, limited opportunity, increasing competition; times are tough for candidates, who might feel a sense of hopelessness in their current situation. With a background in teaching, Torres brings a heightened sense of empathy to her role, and always looks to help anyone who reaches out, whether a student, a podcast listener, or an unsuccessful candidate. And thinks that empathy is an important part of the recruitment process.

“Candidates are yearning for that connection. Whenever someone wants to connect or ask a question on LinkedIn, I always take the time to respond, because you never know if that question is going to give them that next opportunity.”

But the benefits of altruism extend far beyond the warm and fuzzies – these conversations can be a source of valuable long-term relationships. With a buzz of activity in the space, now is a great time to think about how to network.

If you’re out of a job and unsure of what to do, jump on LinkedIn and reach out to people in your industry. The same goes for those of us looking for talent. LinkedIn groups are a great source of specialized professionals: if you’re looking for a CFO, join a CFO group, introduce yourself, build relationships, and eventually ask for referrals.

You’ll be surprised at how open people are to your questions.

The keys to a happy human resource and staffing firm relationship

Here is a list of final tips to develop a better relationship between your staffing firm and an internal HR department:

  • As a staffing firm, you must care for the candidates. If you treat candidates as numbers, you obviously aren’t invested in candidate quality and will rarely provide the best fit. Humanity must be retained in the process.
  • Gather as much information as possible from the company. Put in the work and research company goals. Get to know the culture and understand what exactly they are looking for in a partner and if you are capable of meeting those expectations. This way, the recruiter can properly represent that company and paint an accurate picture: one that the right candidates will want to be a part of.
  • Use integrated tools to bring components of your recruiting and onboarding processes together, making them more efficient and candidate-friendly (e.g. switching from paper to digital documentation.)

The quality of a HR/staffing firm relationship is so often a reflection of how well each party understands the other: how they work, what their role is, and potential areas of overlap. It could be argued that the similarities of these teams is often where differences arise.

Torres is one professional who has a deep understanding of the HR/staffing dynamic. To hear more about how to make the relationship a winning one, check out Episode 14 of the You Own the Experience Podcast.