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These Are the 3 Biggest Trends in Workforce Innovation

Keeping up with the changing world requires constant innovation — and this includes hiring. Evolving technology, the shifting generational makeup of the workforce, and a candidate-centric market[...]

February 18, 2020

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MSPs Give Talent A Voice

Is anyone listening?

When he’s not lecturing at Stanford, noted labor economist Robert Reich tours the nation seeking insight about the nature of talent in the 21st century marketplace. Over the past few weeks, he’s met a broad swath of people who have expressed a growing feeling of dissatisfaction with their sense of influence and acknowledgement in the current political, social and employment landscape.


  • A security guard struggling with his financial security told Reich that he doesn’t know what he’ll be earning from week to week because his firm keeps changing his schedule and his pay. “They just don’t care,” he said.
  • A traveler in the Dallas Fort-Worth Airport had been stranded for eight hours, yet the airline responsible refused to accommodate another flight departing that evening. “They don’t give a hoot,” she lamented.
  • In North Carolina, a voter explained to Reich that he has stopped participating in the election process because he perceives that officials no longer respond to the needs of average constituents. “They don’t listen,” he said.

“What connects these dots?” Reich asks. “As I travel around America, I’m struck by how utterly powerless most people feel. The companies we work for, the businesses we buy from, and the political system we participate in all seem to have grown less accountable. I hear it over and over: They don’t care; our voices don’t count.”

For MSPs attempting to balance all the moving parts of a program -- not to mention all the different managers and stakeholders across practice groups and departments -- ensuring that workers feel valued and listened to is an obvious concern. The good news is that worker support is an inherent advantage within the MSP structure. Contingent talent, as employees of the staffing curators engaged in the MSP program, have access to built-in advocates -- not a faceless corporate board handing down obscure directives, or an army of supervisors and managers with wildly varying agendas. In this article, we’re going to look at the ways staffing suppliers can make sure that every complementary worker has a voice -- and that those voices are heard.

The high stakes of unhappiness

According to the latest Gallup polls on the labor force, over 7,000 working adults surveyed said their workplaces were “miserable.” At least 50 percent of that group attributed problems to poor or disengaged management. Even more telling, about 65 percent of the managers admitted unhappiness at work, too. The problems extend beyond the obvious threats to a worker’s physical and mental health -- they cost employers. For example, workforce studies performed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and countless others have found a direct correlation between unhappiness and attendance problems. For the average U.S. employer, research shows, absenteeism costs an estimated $3,600 per hourly worker per year. Worse, employee turnover usually isn’t far behind. Replacing a vacated position can cost employers up to twice the former worker’s annual salary to cover the job search, complete the hiring process and bring the new individual up to task.

These risks aren’t isolated to the world of full-time employment. High turnover rates of contingent talent in an MSP program lead to operational disruptions, decreases in productivity and hard costs for replacing departed workers. And yet, satisfaction rates for complementary talent are higher, while turnover is lower.

As we’ve discussed in past posts, workers who’ve turned to the contingent lifestyle are happier: 81-percent of those who abandoned full-time employment were found to be pleased with their new roles, according to a landmark study. They have more freedom. They have greater work-life balance. They have more authority in charting their own career paths. Many have realized higher earning potential. And with the right staffing curators engaged, contingent talent have a voice.

How staffing curators offer superior support to workers in MSP/VMS programs

Meaningful recognition and attention. Today’s talent, particularly those in the millennial generation, seek recognition for their efforts, contributions, output and positive impacts on the organization. In large enterprises, employees often become disengaged because they lack the attention of managers who are themselves busy responding to requests, replying to emails or trying to cover many issues at once. Employees also become frustrated when having to answer to multiple managers with conflicting needs and initiatives. For those workers who are acknowledged, the recognition often arrives in the form of an impersonal letter from HR or boilerplate email from the company’s communications team.

In an MSP program, where numerous stakeholders are involved and communications are centralized by a VMS, one might expect the same challenges to arise. This is precisely where engaged staffing suppliers make all the difference.

The MSP brings order to a company’s chaos. It focuses on program structure, supplier management, cost containment, quality, compliance, uncovering additional program value, analyzing data, reporting on metrics, centralizing communications and more. Not only does this bstreamlined process allow client leadership to concentrate on the business, it frees suppliers to focus on their primary area of expertise: people, and not just recruiting more of them. Learn more about how MSPs are masters of collaboration.

The best suppliers understand and cherish their roles as the employers of their talent. They know these workers. They’ve sourced them, recruited them, branded them, placed them, coached them and continue to support them. Staffing professionals can assume the mantle of dedicated talent evangelists -- a position unlikely to exist in the average enterprise. The structure of an MSP program constructs an organized system of responsibilities, delegates, communications and roles. This gives suppliers the time and opportunity to focus on their people: to provide positive feedback and encouragement, interact with their talent privately and in peer groups, share information, communicate needs between workers and the MSP, and motivate their professionals.

Constructive feedback and coaching. Not only do today’s talent want their achievements acknowledged and publicly recognized, they seek constructive feedback and transparency. As workers in an MSP engagement, they are expected to contribute to the program’s success and commit themselves to achieving the objectives critical to the mission. They also crave the same in return. Unfortunately, in a dynamic business world that’s constantly innovating and changing, workers typically receive feedback in the form of an annual review or in response to an issue. Staffing curators can prove instrumental in facilitating communication and keeping their talent in the loop.

They receive direct and frequent input from the MSP team, and their role in the process allows them to meet with their talent regularly to impart new visions, upcoming changes, real-time performance appraisals, guidance, consistent direction and critical feedback for continuous improvement. Not only does this benefit workers, it paves the way for preventative maintenance to strengthen the program -- identifying and resolving problems before they come to a head. Tomorrow's top talent will crave interaction and dialog, while rejecting Intrusion.

Keeping promises. In the Gallup study, researchers found that a great deal of workplace dissatisfaction stems from unfulfilled promises. Workers cited offers of pay hikes, promotions, accommodations and perks that never materialized. It would unfair to call these failures to deliver intentional slights. Today’s business cultures are fast paced and busier than ever. Competition is fierce, fluctuations occur more rapidly and as organizations strive for leaner operations, decision-makers and managers are stretched thin. Still, the end result is poor morale, which ultimately impacts productivity, retention and growth. Motivated and involved staffing suppliers are afforded a unique position in MSP programs, which allows them to champion the needs of their talent.

Through the VMS system and MSP’s guidance, staffing suppliers receive crucial data about their workers’ performance, compliance, satisfaction of key metrics, attendance and other indicators of productivity. Each supplier knows how its talent are meeting or exceeding their obligations. And this also empowers them to push for pay rate increases and even promotions within the boundaries of the program. Because the MSP structure allows suppliers to focus on their workers’ needs, they have the time and leverage to see promises through.

Open doors and open ears. It’s true that workers seek recognition, yet they also want to be regarded as active contributors. Unhappy talent say that hectic managers don’t often have the bandwidth or willingness to include their ideas in strategy discussions. In cases such as these, workers feel as though their attempts to spur innovation, fuel growth and shape the organization’s practices are dismissed. The very nature of the MSP solution accommodates their inclusion.

The presence of an MSP frees corporate leaders and department managers to tend to their tasks with precision -- workforce issues, supplier management, fulfillment and hiring duties all fall on the MSP.

  • To keep the program thriving, MSPs turn to their suppliers for input and updates.
  • Top suppliers, in turn, maintain active relationships with their talent, hearing their concerns and opinions, documenting their needs, helping them formulate their ideas, and promoting those concepts to the MSP.
  • Hiring managers rely on MSPs to report all aspects of the program -- including thoughts on how to drive it forward and uncover greater gains -- as their central communications channel. Corporate leaders set time aside to meet with their MSPs. They are more willing to listen. And in this way, the partnership between the MSP and its supplier partners gives talent a voice that will be heard, without distraction.

In the workforce solutions industry, our talent echo the same concerns as their full-time counterparts. We see a heightened emphasis being placed on employment brands, business acculturation, interpersonal connectivity, socialization and renewing the message that “employees are our greatest assets.” Yet, by treating them merely as assets, we nearly contradict this statement.

Economic recovery aside, times are still tough for America’s working classes. Yet, the ongoing spike in contingent work -- of talent choosing to freelance, contract or take assignments as agency temps -- has given rise an unprecedented complementary workforce. And one could make the case that these professionals aren’t merely searching for flexible schedules and autonomy -- they’re yearning to be liberated from environments that have become tone deaf to their input. As Robert Reich notes, “Our economy and society depend on most people feeling the system is working for them.”

And in well-oiled MSPs programs, with engaged supplier partners, today’s talent have a system that acknowledges them, hears them and appreciates them.

Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, thought leader and influencer who is transforming the way companies think about and acquire talent. Blending vision, technology and business skills honed in the most innovative corporate environments, he has launched a new model for recruitment called Crowdstaffing which is being tapped successfully top global brands. Sunil is passionate about building a company that provides value to the complete staffing ecosystem including clients, candidates and recruiters.
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