As companies continue to hire at record rates, people are now the priority. Talent is both the biggest competitive advantage and the scarcest resource for any organization. And in the staffing industry, the talent is the foundation of our success. At Salo, a national staffing and consulting firm, our focus is on creating a people-first culture and strategy to ensure that talent knows how much we value them. This is the foundation for how all our strategic decisions are made and our priority when working with our consultants and clients.

The goal should be to create a meaningful experience for the consultant and client — and focusing on what matters most to each consultant is vital. Some may want career opportunities that enable them to stretch, some may be looking for flexibility and balance, and still others may want to work in new industries. At Salo, we are their career partners, and our goal is to offer career projects that align with their individual goals. Here are a few ways we do this:

Listening and matching. Our secret to making strong talent matches is having ongoing conversations with every consultant and really listening to their responses. By being curious about the desires, skills and goals of each of our consultants, we can then find the right project and business partner that blends their needs with clients’ goals. We know ongoing professional development is important to our consultants, and we want to be sure that our project assignments provide a meaningful experience to continue to elevate their career and leverage their expertise.

Building relationships. These conversations begin early on when individuals considering a consulting role attend one of our info sessions or talk with us one on one. We’re very clear about what a consulting lifestyle includes, what types of opportunities are available at Salo, what our clients expect and what our consultants need to deliver.

Many of our consultants come to us after working more traditional 40-hours-a-week jobs, thinking it is the only work model available. We show them that project-based consulting can be a great option that provides flexibility and can contribute to their well-being and personal preferences.

Our consultants tell us that our focus on relationship-building is working and that they feel heard — on how they want to be presented in the marketplace, how they want to work and what kind of projects they want to work on. If we happen to get it wrong, we listen and refine the next assignment.

Collaboration and peer feedback. Our relationship-building crosses many channels, but I’m extremely excited about a new online collaboration tool we just introduced called Structural. No matter where they are across the country, the tool links our consultants together as subject matter experts. If a consultant is experiencing a challenge or wants to brainstorm ideas, they can go online to share what they are thinking and hear great feedback from other consultants who have ideas and experiences to share.

We’ve also developed a more formalized approach to collaboration with our consultants through the creation of our Consultant Advisory Board. This small group of consultants acts as a guide by providing Salo with feedback and ideas. They help serve as the voice of our consultants, and we leverage their expertise when considering key business decisions, including the introduction of our new brand last year, the creation of our referral program and other process improvements.

People-first culture works. Feedback from our consultants tells us that our focus on creating a people-first culture is working. Our consultant satisfaction is high, with 97% of those participating in SIA’s Best Staffing Firms to Work For survey saying they are moderately or highly engaged and 99% saying they are proud to work for Salo.

Our consultants are critical to helping solve clients’ business challenges, and our commitment to building strong one-on-one relationships helps them feel heard and valued and sets them on the path to provide great solutions for our clients.