Organizations hiring full-time employees dedicate significant time and resources to address jobseeker satisfaction. And it is increasingly common for them to employ a dedicated candidate experience or recruitment marketing team tasked with optimizing the practice. Leading brands realize they are not only competing for top talent, but there is also the potential for adverse consumer impacts of a bad candidate experience.

According to a recent Future Workplace and CareerArc Survey, 64% of workers said they were less likely to purchase goods and services from a potential employer who treated them poorly during the recruiting process. And in today’s hyper-connected society, one individual can broadcast a negative experience in real time to their networks, potentially causing significant damage to a brand.

However, given all the attention this topic receives, there are very few organizations that are transferring this strategic initiative over to their contingent programs, creating a significant opportunity gap. In fact, depending on an organization’s workforce, the number of individuals engaging with the brand as a contract worker could be comparable to those applying for full-time roles.

SIA’s 2016 Temporary Worker Survey showed that over 50% of temporary workers took assignments looking to land permanent roles; it is highly likely that a contract position could be a jobseeker’s first experience with an organization. Affirming contingent programs provide an outstanding opportunity to create a lasting impression on a significant pool of talent. In today’s highly competitive market, candidate experience represents a potential core differentiator leading to an array of financial and strategic benefits.

The Risks of a Bad Candidate Experience

A poor worker experience can negatively affect organizations, staffing firms and MSP providers.

  1. Worker retention, with a higher proportion of candidates not showing up for their first day or walking off an assignment early leading to lost productivity or revenue.
  2. Reputational impacts are not likely to be isolated only to talent that has been through a specific contingent program, as Talent Board Candidate Experience (CandE) benchmark research data has shown that 51% of candidates share positive and 1 in 3 share negative recruitment experiences online via social media (Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc.), which anybody could find running a quick web search.
  3. Staffing firms might experience an increase in recruitment costs as well as a lower applicant quality.
  4. The MSP provider could experience lower supplier prioritization of talent distribution.
  5. The organization might experience negative worker repercussions including an increase in talent costs (particularly for in-demand roles), loss of talent to competitor organizations in the same market or geography, and applicant or submittal quality.

These effects all have major financial implications and can significantly hinder an organization’s strategic initiatives addressing talent. Sales and recruiting entities receive incentives on placements, but this creates little (if any) focus on the candidate experience leading up to starting a new position. For those not placed, the experience can be even worse, leaving candidates to feel like a commodity not adequately represented by their staffing firm.

All Are Accountability

While there are more high-quality staffing firms than bad, negative stereotypes about how staffing firms treat candidates do exist. MSPs and the client organization has a role to play as well.

Staffing. The good news is that reasonable effort and some effective planning can go a long way toward making a candidate’s experience with a staffing firm stronger.

  1. Provide regular and consistent updates on the status of applications, interviews and overall candidacy. Apply this to selected, considered, submitted and interviewed candidates.
  2. Focus on effective communication and provide first day logistics. Greeting new starters with first-day swag improve connections. During a contractor’s assignment, set up regular check-ins on assignment satisfaction, performance and expected assignment duration.
  3. Encourage partner collaboration (staffing suppliers and MSP or VMOs) to review and action contractor or end client feedback for course correction.
  4. Use technology to enhance and advance candidate communication. Several emerging technologies provide modern, agreeable user interfaces, mobile-first solutions, and multi-channel communication flows (SMS, email, phone) to make staying connected and supporting engagement a more efficient strategy.

MSPs and Clients. MSPs and client organizations can enhance the contingent candidate experience, too. The hiring/client organization has an important part to play in the overall contingent candidate experience. Although hiring manager involvement in the worker selection process may vary, in many cases a candidate will interact with a manager before their assignment start date and this communication provides a direct link to the organizational culture.

What ‘Good’ Looks Like

Direct hiring candidate strategies offer many options to bridge the opportunity gap. Here is a short list of some quick fixes from the more popular direct-hiring initiatives.

  1. Create and distribute content (communications, etc) ensuring space and equipment is available and ready for a worker’s first day.
  2. Include all employees (permanent and temporary) in recognition and social events.
  3. Ensure employer-branding efforts include the contingent worker population.
  4. Confirm assignment managers have appropriate leadership and management training regarding interactions with contingent talent.
  5. Implement supplier and candidate level satisfaction surveys to help identify potential areas for improvement in the existing process and measure the impacts of experience-focused initiatives.

Reaping the Benefits

Organizations that implement talent solutions optimizing candidate experience can realize benefits. While compensation will always be integral, worker treatment will influence their decisions before, during and after assignment. Per SIA’s 2016 Temporary Worker Survey, aside from pay, temporary workers top criteria for selecting one staffing employer over another came down to “trustworthiness and honesty,” “communication about job opportunities,” “relationship with recruiter,” and “responsiveness and politeness.” In other words, firms that perpetuate a positive candidate life cycle may not need to pay top market rates to keep retention within optimal levels. Furthermore, a contractor’s assignment experience easily resembles an audition for permanent employment benefiting both the candidate and the organization. It is important to keep the contingent candidate experience top of mind because a candidate’s feelings during the hiring process can influence whether or not they would accept a full-time offer.

Lastly, organizations creating synergies between their permanent and contingent hires are taking the first steps on the way to a total talent solution.