Ignore your contingent worker hiring experience at your own risk

The value of the candidate experience in a talent short market is undeniable. These individuals are akin to paying customers: if they aren’t treated right, feel ignored and undervalued or clash with a particular individual representing the brand, then permanent damage is done.

Recruitment businesses are acutely aware of this – after all, they’re the ones who speak directly to the candidates. Data also supports the idea that a positive and consistent experience will benefit hiring.

Statistics from LinkedIn show that 52% of applicants who receive feedback were more likely to continue a relationship with the company or companies they dealt with – including recruitment firms. A further 48% respond positively to receiving interview information ahead of time to help them best prepare.

All of this information is being absorbed into permanent recruitment activity on a daily basis.

But what about the contingent workforce? And, perhaps more importantly, what about those who fall into the high-volume contingency market?

The forgotten masses

The challenge with high-volume contingency hiring is that the numbers are often so high, that the smaller details can be missed. So what if ten agency workers left the books last month – there’s more out there, right?

Historically this may have been the case and is unfortunately where the perception that these workers are a disposable commodity began to grow. For sectors that hired blue collar workers en-masse it was easy to quickly fill resourcing needs. Take the cleaning or hospitality sector, for example.

How many films have followed the story of an under-valued cleaner or restaurant server who was easily disposed of by their (often villainous) employer? The reality might not be as grim as Hollywood has depicted in the past, but the sentiment is arguably the same.

As technology improved the ability to increase the number of contingent and temporary staff being used, this issue only became more prevalent. It’s all too easy to just tuck these numbers away in the technology somewhere and forget about them until they’re gone or a compliance issue arises. But failure to give these workers the valuable experience and the time and effort that they deserve will be detrimental on a huge scale for global workforces, as much as recruitment businesses.

Changing mindsets

We saw during the pandemic that it is these blue collar workers who keep the world turning to some degree. Food deliveries ground to a halt without the drivers to get the stock to the store. Baggage handler strikes showed the world that the often under-valued workforce holds a wealth of power.

While attitudes to this segment of the workforce have started to shift across the general public, recruitment firms that supply high-volume contingent workers need to evolve mindsets both across their own business and within end client firms, or risk losing their most valuable asset.

The rise of legislation to provide better rights to these individuals shows just how important the contingent worker candidate experience should be taken. In the UK, Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) are in place to ensure no one is unfairly treated in a temporary agency role. The Temporary Worker Law in the US serves a similar purpose.

But what value does this regulation provide if people don’t want to work with a staffing partner in the first place because they’ve had a bad experience before? Or because the friend’s second cousin had a colleague who’d had a bad experience (after all, word of mouth travels fast and damages a brand almost instantly).

A positive contingent worker experience

No worker – whether temporary or not – should have a bad experience with a firm. Recruiters have a moral obligation to ensure the people they find roles for are treated ethically, but why stop there? Recruiters and blue collar contingent staff have something in common: both are often undervalued and seen as disposable.

While staffing agencies might not be in a position to fully control the experience temporary workers have with the end client (though they should certainly be acting as an advisor on this issue), they can ensure they are treated as valued human assets for their own business. Ensuring no one is lost in the numbers, people aren’t ignored because there’s too many workers on the books or leaving individuals feeling isolated because they can’t speak to anyone simply shouldn’t happen in today’s world.

In the current environment, the ability to find new workers to replace those dissatisfied with their experience isn’t always a viable option. No matter what level of worker, people shortages are becoming significant. So, stop ignoring the contingent worker experience and start giving it the time and focus it deserves.

James Lawton Enterprise Account Executive
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