Every staffing leader knows that contractor care is crucial for key metrics like recruiting, retention and redeployment but, regardless of firm size, one inconvenient truth always gets in the way: scaling contractor care isn’t easy. The sheer volume of work involved presents a challenge to growing firms, and investments in contractor care teams are often perceived as a direct threat to profitability.
In our experience, contractor care doesn’t need to be costly or difficult. What we know to be true about caring for talent doesn’t need to be at odds with profitability and growth objectives. With the right strategy, contractor care can go from being a cost center to a competitive differentiator.
In this three part series, we will explore the reasons why contractor care is difficult to scale, and highlight solutions that the top staffing firms we work with have used to deliver exceptional contractor care at every step of the growth cycle.
When scaling your staffing firm and contractor care program, a human connection is one of the most difficult yet important things to maintain. In this first post, we’ll examine ways to maintain the human connection with your contractors as your staffing firm scales, and show how a focus on this soft skill can become a competitive differentiator for your growing firm.
At smaller, newer firms
Human connection is what gets many small staffing firms off the ground. Small teams are intimately familiar with the needs of their clients and talent, stay in close touch, and intervene before things go wrong. The beginning is an exciting time for a fledgling staffing firm and everyone is invested in giving clients and talent a great experience.
When a small staffing firm starts out, there’s a small, multi-talented staff who don’t focus in just one area, and works to make the entire staffing firm successful. These means that each internal staff member is thinking about winning over talent and actively striving to retain contractors. With everyone in sync at the early stages of building a business, it’s easier to predict and prevent problems contractors might run into.
As firms grow
As a staffing firms grow, more disparate teams take on specialized roles and will have a harder time seeing the bigger picture of success for the staffing firm as a whole. As recruiting and sales become more narrowly focused, maintaining a human connection with talent can begin to take a backseat.
For growing firms that have team members dedicated to contractor care, the staff can quickly become overburdened by an influx of new contractors and might be seen as a cost center that isn’t bringing as much to the table as the recruiting or sales. While a recruiter’s success can be measured in the number of onboarded contractors, it’s much harder to quantify success for contractor care.
Don’t drop contractor care
When contractor care is seen as a burden and cost center, it seems like an easy program to cut so that you can siphon money towards more “important” endeavors. While this may save money in the short term, the long-term impact on retention and redeployment rates as well as online reputation can be hard to recover from.
To maintain a human connection with contractors as your firm grows, you need smart measurement, automation, and proactive contractor care. If your staffing firm can implement these three prongs of a effective contractor care program, it’s possible to not only scale your contractor care program along with your staffing firm, but to maintain the human connection that makes small staffing firms such a success at the beginning of their journey.
Measuring contractor satisfaction is like taking someone’s temperature; it’s one way to measure whether your contractors (and contractor care program) are sick or healthy. As your staffing firm grows, it’s easy to lose perspective on how happy and healthy your contractors are, as it’s more difficult to connect with each contractor on a one-to-one basis.
Measure to connect
When you measure contractor satisfaction, you’re really looking for dissatisfaction. Where is the system breaking down? What can we change to improve contractor care?
Measurement lets your contractor care staff identify issues and enact solutions before those issues become damaging, wide-ranging problems. By solving issues early, you’re also maintaining your staffing firm’s reputation and protecting clients from ever seeing the problems.
Measuring contractor satisfaction has another bonus—each measurement is a touchpoint with contractors. Each touchpoint is a step towards maintaining the human connection. Each time you connect with contractors, you give them opportunity to be heard, while also letting them know that you’re there and ready to listen if they do have a problem.
As your staffing firm grows, contractor care teams don’t have time to keep up with the workload of staying in touch with individual contractors. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. This is where automation comes in.
The paradox of increasing human connection with automation
Automation might seem paradoxical to maintaining human connection, but that’s not the case if you have the right systems in place. Automation can make it easier for your contractor care staff to get in touch with contractors, automatically sending out routine messages and NPS surveys to measure satisfaction.
Automation makes your staffing firm run smoothly and will let you scale your contractor care with your staffing firm without hiring and training a large internal staff. Your contractor care team will run more efficiently and they will have more time for human connection by focusing on individual contractor problems through early detection. Automation doesn’t get rid of human connection, it just automates the tasks that don’t need human input and frees up time for genuine connection and problem solving.
The key to maintaining a human connection with contractors as staffing firms grow is shifting from a reactive approach to a proactive approach with contractors. Since you have a limited number of human contractor care professionals, it’s important to make sure that they are focusing their efforts where their attention can make a difference. And the best way to do this is to make sure they are proactively engaging contractors instead of drowning in routine tasks or putting out fires.
Reactive communication might work for small staffing firms when the entire team is fewer than 5 or 6 people, since small teams have an easier time staying in sync and have a sixth sense for what is happening across the business. But if you want your contractor care to function efficiently and not waste money, it’s important to develop processes and systems that allow your contractor care team to identify and solve problems proactively.
Proactive contractor care is possible when the right measurement and automation processes give your contractor care staff the perspective and bandwidth to identify and fix issues early on before they become bigger problems.
It may not be easy to scale contractor care and maintain a human connection in growing firms, but with the right strategy, processes and technology, it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Firms that use measurement and automation to enable proactive contractor care will have the bandwidth and insights to engage contractors at just the right moments, improving both loyalty and profitability.
Our next Hard to Love post will be about listening to contractors, and will explore how to take the data you receive from your measurements and act on them efficiently and effectively.