In the past, Recruitment Agencies and Talent Acquisition Teams have rarely played nice. Competing priorities sprinkled with a healthy lack of trust has made it less a relationship… and more a wrestling match in many instances.
But… in the current candidate driven market and the abundance of opportunities for the flexible career professional, it’s very clear that Agencies and TA are developing more productive and respectful relationships to work closely together. It is also important to explore the role of the Hiring Manager and the Contractor Management solution as we enter an unheralded period of reliance on the contingent workforce.
Most Talent Acquisition functions that have a Contingent/Contractor workforce run hybrid models where the preference is to source internally, and supplement with a panel of trusted Agency partners to navigate the overflow.
What is interesting is that businesses are adopting very different strategies to engage contingent talent:
Edan Haddock*, formerly at FlyBuys (Loyalty Pacific) Senior Manager – People Solutions, tells us that they partner with one agency for optimum results with their Contingent recruitment
‘Having one trusted fully integrated partner that really is an extension of our team, ensures they are communicating the right message to the right talent at the right time. They know the leaders well and can talk to candidates in a detailed manner to help them decide if they would like to join us. This is especially important in today’s challenging Talent market.’
At Cognizant – one of the largest Global Technology Professional Services Firms they incorporate an MSP provider that coordinates Contingent recruitment. Allégra Moore (Talent Director) says ‘Our MSP manages and guides our agencies on panel for Contingent hires. We have a cross section, from generalists through to pure specialists for niche skill sets.’
Cholena Orr (Product Owner – Talent & Culture) says that at ANZ, they utilise their panel arrangement in a flexible fashion to ensure the best recruitment outcome.
‘…Most of our recruitment is via either a specialist agency, or larger generalist firm which provides us with global reach. Those who provide better value act as partners and take time to truly understand our work and provide a high level of candidate care.’
At Papercut Software there is a different strategy again. Laura White (Head of Talent) tells us that wherever possible her internal team manage Contingent recruitment. When they do engage an agency they ‘…don’t have particular agencies we work with, it depends on the role and the location. The best value we get is from advertising the role ourselves and then paying the agency to payroll the contractor.’
So, interestingly from these responses we see four very different strategies:
- Engaging with one valued partner.
- MSP taking ownership over a panel arrangement.
- A panel of specialist and generalist suppliers.
- Contingent run primarily internally with agencies selected on specialisation for support.
Collaboration with Hiring Managers
Hiring Managers are another area of interest when running a Contingent recruitment process. Historically, a shorter and less rigorous process than permanent recruitment, Hiring Managers were often bypassed for contractor hiring, but attitudes are changing.
The Contingent workforce is on the increase. There is evidence suggesting that contracts are being extended at greater rates and the opportunities for ‘contract to perm’ arrangements, coupled with candidate short markets, companies are being forced to treat the recruitment process differently.
At Papercut Software Hiring Managers are front and centre in the recruitment process. ‘Hiring Managers are asked to take the lead on Contract/Contingent recruitment… We have recently implemented a contractor onboarding workflow in Enboarder as this was the biggest pain point for both Hiring Managers and the new starter. The Talent Team also negotiate and sign off on the terms from the agency. That is not only to assist the Hiring Managers but to ensure consistency across agency engagements…’
ANZ also include their Hiring Managers in the Contingent recruitment process.
‘Managers are responsible for briefing our contract recruitment teams, interviewing and making selection decisions. There’s always room for improvement in any recruitment process. The more we can make sure that we’re looking to provide high levels of candidate care the better. As an industry we need to make sure we’re providing accessible and inclusive recruitment processes.’
Cognizant views Hiring Managers as an integral part of the recruitment journey and doesn’t differentiate between contract and permanent in Hiring Manager involvement.
‘Hiring Managers play a vital role – from participating in the briefing of our MSP partner, to interviewing (if longer term contract) and being involved in the offer process. This has improved during the course of 2021 as we encourage and work towards stronger partnership in decisions around our Contingent workforce.’
For FlyBuys (Loyalty Pacific) the process ‘doesn’t differ. Our Hiring Managers partner closely with us to ensure we are finding the right talent as they would for Permanent roles. More often than not our Agency Contingent workers have the opportunity to stay on with us in perm roles, or at least are given the option to explore opportunities when they become available throughout the teams.’
There is a clear movement towards Hiring Manager involvement across the process as businesses look more strategically and long term in relation to their Contingent talent. This helps at the front end of the journey. It makes sense that the person responsible for managing the new hire is involved from the outset – whether the engagement is Permanent or Contingent.
A more inclusive candidate experience
The treatment of Contingent staff across the board has also undergone a change. Formally, particularly in the Tech sector, the non-permanent workforce were often neglected once onboarded. The attraction piece was focused solely on money and interesting work. Companies now are offering a more holistic and inclusive experience for the Contingent workforce as they attempt to engage longer term.
Edan Haddock formerly at FlyBuys (Loyalty Pacific) tells us. ‘Our Contingent workforce really do feel like a part of the family. We take a lot of pride ensuring our entire workforce is integrated and receives the same level of employee experience. We are proud to be 100% inclusive. From all team huddles, social events and even our onboarding journeys.’
At ANZ the brand is very strong, but they have added layers to their value proposition including purpose engagement. ‘I believe what attracts Contingent staff to ANZ is the opportunity to work on meaningful and interesting work. Whilst this is largely dependent on the role, we have a strong sense of purpose at ANZ and a strong connection to our customers and the community.’
Cognizant has its own point of difference when attracting Contingent professionals to work with them with their ‘point of difference being consulting, the projects are challenging and often ground-breaking and the technologies, for the most part are new (no one wants to work with antiquated tech stacks).’
Laura White from Papercut Software points out that they believe that the same things attract permanent and Contingent hires ‘I think it’s the same point of difference we have when attracting perm staff – amazing company culture, passionate people and products that promote making a positive impact on our environment.’
Businesses are continuing to strategically expand their Contingent footprint. In an environment where there is simply not enough Contingent supply to meet demand this has become and will continue to develop into a focal point for years to come. The components of attraction, retention and management of the Contingent workforce are at the forethought of most enterprise and corporate Talent Teams.
The opportunity for TA Teams, Agencies, Hiring Managers and Contractor Management Providers to work together has never been more relevant than now. There are a variety of options, all with demonstrated success. What is abundantly clear is the need for simple, efficient and cost-effective partnerships that put the needs of the Contingent Workforce at the forefront.. with the key focus on effective collaboration. The future of work is now.
*Edan Haddock is now founder of Rubberband an online Talent Community focused on connection and wellbeing.
Guest Post: Craig Watson, host of Oncore’s podcast: Flexing Up – The Future of Work is a Director & Founder at #Recstra. #Tapod podcast co-host & creator.