Staffing platform is a relatively new term used to define a rapidly expanding sector of staffing technology. SIA defines it as “a segment of the staffing sector representing the automated/online version of the offline processes conducted by staffing firms”. There are typically three ways an agency can go about this: build their own (Adecco’s Adia), acquire an existing technology (Indeed acquired Syft and rebranded it as IndeedFlex), or license from a SPaaS provider- Staffing Platform as a Service.
The dialogue around this kind of technology has evolved quickly. No sooner had the market defined it than it became seen as the future of the industry. SIA recently polled 160 of the largest US agencies, and 41% said they now consider staffing platforms to be the future of the industry. And with many sectors experiencing record years, there is an opportunity to start new endeavors where they aren’t constrained by their existing processes and technologies.
A cornerstone of the staffing platform experience is enabling candidate self-serve shifts through mobile app technology. But of course, the options for automation go well beyond that. Equipped with a true staffing platform, agencies can create a customized experience for each vertical while taking advantage of automation in sourcing, onboarding, deployment, communication, feedback, timekeeping and pay. Candidates and clients get information, control, and visibility that they never had before.
Where automation is not yet possible or undesirable, new roles are emerging at pioneering agencies to create great customer experiences.
The Question of Implementation
Even with staffing platform adoption on such a rapid rise, many agencies are still wary of a significant disruption to their business if they look to implement this kind of technology. There are a couple of paths to be considered here. At TimeSaved, we refer to these as evolutionary and revolutionary approaches. Both have their merit and both make sense for different types of agencies given their team, their goals, and their market.
With an evolutionary approach, agencies can simply lay staffing platform technology on top of existing processes as a way to increase engagement with clients and candidates. In this instance, staffing platforms act as an extension/optimization of your current operating practices, while the goal internally is to ensure minimal disruption to your team. With an evolutionary approach, you’re able to dramatically improve engagement with both candidates and clients, but legacy systems and processes may hinder your ability to realize their full power and ROI.
Candidate Experience with Staffing Platforms
A central ambition of staffing platforms is to provide candidates with the power and flexibility they’ve been conditioned to expect through gig platforms and other mobile on-demand experiences.
- The ability to control and share their own information
- The ability to self-select jobs that match their preferences
- A clear channel for communication and solution to the candidate “black hole”
- The ability to work with one agency that provides a steady stream of opportunity
- More visibility into time and pay
Client Interaction with Staffing Platforms
On a true staffing platform, clients have at least three ways to submit orders:
- Directly input them on the staffing platform (using a responsive site or native app)
- Automatically sync job orders and schedules from existing systems to the staffing platform
- Message, email, or call their agency representative (as they always have)
And clients have four ways to assign workers to jobs:
- Allow the agency to assign workers (high service)
- Directly assign workers through the staffing platform (client control, lower rates)
- Allow qualified workers to assign themselves (efficiency, retention, worker control)
- Allow the staffing platform to automatically invite or assign the best candidate (speed, scale)
With this approach, change management can seem more daunting, but ultimately adopting a unified platform is much easier than learning, managing, and integrating several single-purpose tools. It also frees internal talent up to explore new possibilities for their role. Sourcing analysts, candidate data specialists and a host of other more nuanced takes on typical recruiting duties will no doubt change the industry in the not-so-distant future.
New Recruiting Roles Emerge
Onboarding specialists can help guide thousands of workers a week through sign-up, vetting, and credentialing. App Install Ads and Automated Referral Programs keep a consistent stream of new leads coming their way, while automations take care of many of the common messages that they would otherwise have to send like welcomes, instructions, and first-day check-ins.
That frees up onboarding specialists to guide incoming candidates, answer their more difficult questions, start a conversation around candidates’ wants and needs, and align sourcing and onboarding outcomes with client needs. In other words, they can focus on the strategic and human aspects of their job.
As clients shift towards automated or self-serve methods, account executives and schedulers will shift away from spending so much of their time taking in job orders by email or phone. Instead, they’ll gradually shift to a Marketplace Manager role where they’re responsible for the health of the marketplace
They’ll spend their time-solving problems like:
- Are any of my clients struggling to fill job orders?
- Do we have enough qualified, available workers near their location?
- How can we direct our sourcing engine to fill those gaps in our workforce? Can we offer higher referral incentives in those areas?
- Is the client struggling with retention? Would they benefit from a rewards-based loyalty system?
- Are timekeeping, payroll, and billing all running smoothly?
- What kind of feedback are workers receiving? What feedback are they giving? Any problem areas to focus on?
- How else can I help my clients optimize their usage of the platform? Does their team need any personalized suggestions or resources?
A Day In The Life of a Marketplace Manager
Often the marketplace manager’s work starts with an accurate diagnosis. Then, they can choose from the technology tools and human resources at their disposal to solve the problem.
For example, Meredith the marketplace manager sees that a particular client location is struggling to fill their job orders. She starts with a worker search and is able to identify that the agency doesn’t have many active, available forklift operators near Cleveland. Meredith starts digging deeper to find out why.
Checking the sourcing funnel in that area, she notices that sign-up and onboarding completion rates are in line with the agency average, but there are just not that many candidates coming through. Referrals are accounting for 29% of new candidates, which is above average, so Meredith decides to focus her attention on their agency’s Google and Facebook ad campaigns.
Working with the marketing team, they adjust their targeting strategies to reach more forklift operators near Cleveland. Among other improvements, they decide to add expected weekly wages to their ad titles, a tactic that’s been working well for them. To track channel success, Meredith looks for a lift in the percentage of new sign-ups who responded “Google” or “Facebook” to the app onboarding question, “How did you hear about us?”
While waiting for the ads to start working, she checks in with the region’s onboarding specialists to ensure that new candidates are quickly vetted for that clients’ available jobs. Finally, she monitors the new leads’ job feed activity (which jobs they’re interested in, and which they’re not interested in, and why). If she has solved the problem, applications should start rolling in and the client’s jobs should start filling up. If she’s still not seeing those end results, Meredith can continue her diagnosis process and optimize for the client’s success.
While some larger agencies have endeavored to build their own staffing platforms, it’s not a feasible path for many. Enter Staffing Platforms as a Service (SPaaS). SPaaS providers are constantly improving your agency’s technology toolset for you and building enough customizability to serve all of your business needs.
At TimeSaved, we give everyone on our customer’s team direct lines of contact to our product team so that they can share feedback and influence the future direction of our roadmap. Many of our most impactful features were designed and developed in close collaboration with our customers. Paired with a rigorous user research and testing process, this ensures that we are always solving agencies’ real problems in a way that is easy to adopt and impactful on day one.
With a SPaaS platform, your team can have access to a dedicated customer success rep and a Help Center full of resources and videos that cover everything from sourcing to redeployment. TimeSaved also provides recipes to achieve specific business objectives, like re-activating an imported database of candidates or migrating spend away from job boards to your own channels