Sevenstep Blog

Three Ways to Build Trust and Flexibility into Your Talent Solution

By David Chapleau, Executive Director, Client Services, Sevenstep



Employers struggle with talent planning in a volatile business environment. Skills evolve quickly. The economy and the job market remain uncertain, and budgets are under a microscope. At the same time, expectations for growth and performance remain high.

An outsourcing strategy can provide the answer for navigating conflicting markets and talent demands. Unfortunately, many employers hesitate to outsource or do not utilize the full capabilities their provider has to offer. The result can be an inability to shift gears quickly for changing needs, a frustrating experience trying to manage suppliers using internal resources, or costly delays or quality issues in securing permanent or contingent talent.

How can employers position themselves to adopt and fully utilize an outsourced solution? The answer comes with building trust and awareness by following three practical mechanisms. Together, they help make that outsourcing decision and quickly establish a flexible, problem-solving relationship with a provider.

Bring Third-Party Expertise into the RFP and Planning Process

Employers know better than anyone how their permanent or contingent talent needs affect their business and often seek solutions based only on filling those needs. The pitfalls come when translating open roles into a defined solution.

RFPs often lack some of the details to provide a best-cost or highest-impact solution. One of the easiest ways to gain a new perspective is to ask RPO, MSP and total talent providers to send you what they believe is a good example of an RFP they have responded to. Review and understand what makes a proposal work. Make sure questions allow providers to differentiate themselves and avoid or minimize repeat ideas. The result can be an RFP that enables more specific apples-to-apples comparisons between provider offerings and solutions that go right to the heart of your workforce challenges.

If you already have a solution, the RFP is not the issue. Instead, planning for the next quarter or year’s strategy is the main challenge. For existing solutions, the workforce solutions provider may have options to help you reduce overall talent costs, access different skills or reposition roles or assignments to better target a larger talent supply.

To build trust, consider approaching your solutions partner with your challenges rather than dictating what you believe is the hiring solution. With our clients, giving us a chance to provide frequent, strategic input yields a significant impact.

For example, a healthcare client needed 65 hires with IT experience, and they needed them quickly. That was a tall order in an industry struggling to meet talent needs, given that they could not offer top pay to attract them from across different sectors. Rather than set up operations for difficult permanent hires, we recommended a mixed approach, using half contractors to fill the need.

The plan worked, and the client met their goals with 50% contractors – 20% of whom were later hired as permanent employees. Today, they manage a larger rate of hiring, at one point more than 1,000 roles, with a 75% permanent and 25% contingent mix. We worked together and arrived at a solution that delivered.

Establish Data Transparency and Clarity

A successful collaboration is one where the client and provider can tackle problems early or apply creative strategies to solve persistent challenges together. Neither would be possible without detailed and current data to see the issues, diagnose causes and apply precise solutions.

When a role or assignment does not meet time-to-fill goals in a review, the causes could range from a low-performing recruiting team to a changing market, a non-competitive salary or slow hiring manager responsiveness. There is room for finger-pointing, but without detailed data, there is little information to solve it.

Our experience supporting clients with our Sevayo® Insights data integration platform shows that detail makes the difference. Before a recruiting effort turns into overdue hires, we can isolate the weakness. It could be a particular location, a slate that does not advance quickly or an anomaly where diverse candidates are unrepresented. When pinpointing outliers, the client and provider can take specific actions, whether deploying different recruiting resources, consulting with hiring managers or adjusting the job definition and requirements.

An example of that data-driven capability is a function we built into our Sevayo Insights platform that analyzes a recruiting requisition at its creation to determine, with 87% accuracy, whether it is likely to age. If it is a high-risk req, we deploy specialty recruiting resources and strategies to strengthen our delivery on that assignment. In a highly challenging hiring environment with one client, we used this approach to reduce the portion of aging reqs from 40% to 6% and reduced the time to fill by 18 days. We did this without the stress of guessing or finger-pointing, and the results strengthened a trusted relationship.

Build Access to Services into the Relationship

HR and procurement leaders are often surprised by the breadth of services their solutions partners offer. Over time, companies in successful outsourced relationships rely on their RPO or MSP provider for everything from employer brand development to recruitment marketing, research, technology consulting, training and strategic development.

Our experience shows that by the time a company feels the need for support, there is usually some urgency. They have little patience for reinventing contracts, navigating lengthy approvals and negotiating costs. We have provided an onramp for clients to engage our services in the future by pricing them in contracts and proposals. This approach enables them to avoid repeat permissions and approvals for an already-established relationship in the right situation.

Likewise, learn about your solution partner’s capabilities. For example, many clients have recognized and requested our robust training resources for their internal recruiting teams or hiring managers. That training can have a lasting positive impact on the client. Another example is market research. When planning a facility in a new location, the people you hire will be one of the highest costs. Your provider can assemble an accurate picture of talent availability, demand and costs in that area, helping to ensure that a strong workforce supply in that location can support your investment in a new facility.

A provider offers broad capabilities, but clients do not necessarily need to “order” services. Instead, define the issues you face or the outcomes you need and trust the provider to consult with you and develop a best-fit solution. That solution may be a mix of services or something different that addresses a root cause you may not have noticed.

Finally, trust that a reputable solutions partner has a self-interest in providing services that deliver cost-effective outcomes. These capabilities and the support we provide are more than add-ons; they are vital to the trust and strength of our client relationships.

Foundations of Trust Lead to an Agile Solution

When a workforce solutions provider delivers on key support areas without hesitation, employers will view them as a high-trust partner and allow them to solve problems instead of taking orders. Build trust into the relationship, and put the total value and capability of the provider to work in a way that enables the business to navigate change.

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