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November 17, 2021

Staffing Tech: Less Engagement and More Functionality and Enablement

Job seekers are consumers. 

It’s not a common way for those in the industry to think about candidates, but as technology becomes an ever more deep and meaningful part of the staffing experience, it’s a mindset shift that will eventually need to take place.

Many of the industry’s innovators and early adopters look to Silicon Valley for tech-driven inspiration. Often this is a good thing, as much of staffing aligns with what the biggest names in tech are trying to do. Other times, however, the processes and goals are very different, which can steer a staffing firm somewhat off track in their search for tech-driven success.

In order to gain some clarity, let’s take a look at the future of staffing, and how tech might help us to get there.

Taking the right inspiration from tech giants

Amazon is always held up as the prime example of the modern consumer experience, and for good reason – it provides a smooth, simple, and complete experience. So successful has Amazon become in delivering this experience, that they’ve set a new bar for all businesses, staffing firms included.

Candidates now want to get their metaphorical job boxes delivered to their door, as soon as possible, and in just one click. They want a staffing firm to understand what they’re looking for, and for that opportunity to be presented to them.

Then you have the perfect transparency of the Domino’s pizza experience. Every stage of the ordering, creation, QA, and delivery process is tracked, to give the consumer a more immersive and transparent experience.

In the age of data, transparency is becoming a fundamental tenet of business. In 1986, when Microsoft launched their IPO, they used the word ‘transparency’ exactly zero times. In their 2012 IPO, Facebook used the word five times. In 2021, GitLab used ‘transparency’ a total of 43 times in their IPO paperwork.

Finally, the staffing industry needs to become less concerned with checkboxes, and more concerned with outcomes. This frees our minds to imagine entirely new and unique ways of doing things, rather than sticking to the same safe yet clunky processes. New, simple, frictionless, and repeatable: this is the direction staffing and recruiting experiences need to be heading.

Fun vs functionality, engagement vs enablement

“I’ve dealt a lot with PEOs and staffing firms both here and internationally,” says Scott Poeschl, Vice President of Partnerships at Avionte. “When developing their candidate and client experiences, people often ask things like ‘can I put a video here?’, ‘can I make this element pop more?’, ‘how can I add a bit more color and interest?’ The focus is on how fun and attractive things can be made. But it shouldn’t be.”

Ask yourself: are you really looking for fun when looking for your next job? Or would you rather the task be as effective and frictionless as possible? ‘Fun’ doesn’t put someone to work, nor does ‘fun’ ensure a person will show up for a job that they’ve been hired to do.

Candidates aren’t looking for fun, they’re looking for functionality. They aren’t looking for engagement, they’re looking for enablement; the opportunity to do more for themselves, more meaningfully. They aren’t looking for fluff, they’re looking for transparency; processes that tell a jobseeker exactly where they are in their journey, and that light the path ahead.

If your staffing and recruiting firm can deliver all that, you’ll develop serious trust and loyalty.

Engagement isn’t the Goal, it’s the outcome

Enablement drives engagement. If I’m enabling a candidate, I’m giving them control and putting the power in their hands. With greater control over the process, they’ll have greater trust in it. I’m drawing the candidate through the process, rather than pushing them wherever I want them to go.

What does this look like in real terms? Perhaps a jobseeker outlines the sort of work they’re looking for, and your firm replies by saying “hey, we have that sort of job, but here are a couple of skills that you’ll need, and here’s how to get them.” The talent then uses that information to make themselves job-ready. This can take real weight off a recruiter’s shoulders, transforming them from talent hunters to relationship managers, and their pool of candidates constantly upskills to meet changing client demands.

Instead of strong-arming a semi-interested individual into an open role, place an offer in front of them with all the relevant information – the responsibilities, the hours, the location, the salary – and add an opt-in button for those that feel the opportunity is right for them. Those that click it will know that this is a job they’re capable of doing, that fits their schedule, that is within a short drive, and that pays at a rate they’re comfortable with.

“Firms that do this see show-up rates increase,” confirms Poeschl. “As someone in the staffing tech space, when I look for technology partners, I work to understand the high friction places, the gaps, the drop-offs, the things that talent wants to do but can’t, then I look for partners who can solve those problems and meet those needs. I always aim to enable talent.”

And once they’re enabled, they become so much more engaged in the process.

You Own the Experience Podcast - Listen Now

‘Hey Siri, cancel my shift’

Given where the future of staffing looks to be headed, what exactly does that future look like?

Imagine a world where a candidate can rate an employer to keep them accountable, and where an employer can rate a candidate to inspire better performance, perhaps even offering salary incentives to those with a good rating. You’re putting the power in a talent’s hands to increase their salary – enabling them to earn more through good performance.

Imagine a world where a jobseeker can say ‘hey Siri, cancel my shift’, where a pool of standby candidates is then notified of a shift opening up and given the opportunity to secure it, and where the recruiter is notified if the shift isn’t taken after a prescribed amount of time. You’re enabling a candidate to have more control and flexibility over their work, and you’re enabling an employer to enjoy a more reliable stream of workers.

Imagine a world where the technology tells the candidate:

  • ‘You've canceled the last two day shifts – are you confident in accepting this one?’, helping the end-user notice trends in their own behavior.
  • ‘This job you’re applying to requires X skill set, here are some courses you can take to gain the necessary qualifications'.
  • Exactly where they stand amongst the competition as far as a specific opening is concerned.

We can also take inspiration from the way Amazon acts not only on an event but a lack of event:

  • ‘You haven’t taken your basket to checkout, if you do it now, we’ll deliver tomorrow.’
  • ‘You were looking at this item but didn’t purchase – it’s discounted right now, would you like to take advantage of the offer?’

The system prompts you to act, and the same can be done to encourage candidates through the hiring process in the most helpful of ways.

Enabling lifestyles, enabling dreams

In summing up, Poeschl takes a step back and looks at the bigger picture. “We want technology to enable the talent to place themselves quicker, to make themselves job-ready quicker. But ultimately we’re looking to enable their lifestyle; to enable them to feed their families and to go after their dreams.”

Sure, take healthy inspiration from the tech world’s biggest and brightest, but when you’re looking to enhance your firm with technology, stop thinking in terms of engagement.

You’re not Facebook or TikTok – you’re a staffing and recruiting firm. Your aim is to be functional rather than fun. But if you enable your candidates through transparent, frictionless, and ultimately successful experiences, engagement will naturally grow.

Check out episode 40 of the You Own the Experience Podcast to learn more.

Topic(s): Podcast