Four Ways to Become an “A+” Customer to Your Suppliers


With unemployment rates at the lowest mark this century, everyone is eager for strategies from HR to attract and acquire talent. Yet for contingent workforce programs, this means strategies involving the staffing suppliers that comprise the talent supply chain. Success will depend on ensuring your suppliers can attract the talent your organization needs. In pursuit of that success, here are four ways to become an “A” customer to your suppliers and ensure your contingent talent supply chain is effective in delivering top talent.

#1) Costs  Seek to balance competitive wages and attractive bill rates against the cost of unfilled positions. Realize that bill rates and pay rates need to not only be competitive but also attractive, because suppliers need to pay slightly above market rate in order to attract quality talent. Ensure your program enables you to have visibility into underlying pay rates.  Additionally, work with your MSP partner to use data to quantify the cost of unfilled positions so that rate discussions are considering the entire picture.

Expect variation in rates according to differing demand in different markets. IT professionals in a competitive market like Reston, VA where hundreds of employers need to fill thousands of positions can command the highest wages. However, so can general laborers, in a smaller market like Lexington Park, MD, where a handful of employers with a few dozen openings and only 100 potential candidates in the workforce compete against retail, hospitality or other entry level roles for these candidates. In either scenario, the supply chain must not only balance where their candidates want to go but where they and their candidate can achieve the most success.

So, understand the dynamics in your markets and make sure to examine bill rates in light of discounts and payment terms.

#2 SpeedOrganizations regularly impose service level agreements (SLAs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) on suppliers to govern how fast they submit or how quickly they initiate background screenings. In fairness to suppliers, establish corresponding KPIs for your hiring managers requiring them to provide feedback on resumes within one day, and schedule interviews in less than three. When performing an intake call with the hiring manager, take the opportunity to educate them on the challenges of filling particular roles and the market conditions they face. Block time on their calendars to review resumes and provide feedback. Then, follow up 24 hours after the first candidate has been submitted. Gather feedback and push to schedule interviews within next two business days.

#3 Examine the Total Talent Mix – For IT roles, structure the projects so that temporary talent has fixed duration and roles. Ongoing needs like project management and help desk roles are required for long-term support within your organization. Conversely, software developers or QA testers are only needed for specific, typically finite projects with specific skills. For general laborers, engage temporary workers during peak production or holiday seasons and provide a path to convert them to full time employees if the need is ongoing.

In all cases, create a culture where temporary workers have incentives to transition as needed to full time roles. Workers tend to stay on assignment in locations that are comfortable, where their skills and knowledge are growing, and where they feel valued. Incentives may manifest as flexible hours or shifts, parental leave, or even a great cafeteria. (Read more on this topic here.) Share your efforts and the results you achieve with your suppliers. Which leads to the last way to become an “A+” customer to your supplier.

#4 Create and Maintain Feedback LoopsNot just by role or by candidate but overall, solicit input from your supplier partners on a regular basis to identify their challenges. Build a plan to address those challenges and provide updates to the entire supply base on your progress. Suppliers are much more inclined to support a program when they are actively engaged and supported by a business partner. So be that partner.

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