My last blog post started the discussion of communication and why it’s so critical to get it right with temporary and contingent workers. The ability to keep regular messaging going out to your workers as a recruitment agency is a key business imperative. But it’s not as easy as sending a text or email.
Different people prefer different forms of communication, through a range of channels and at varying times of the day or week. Any touchpoints also need to feel personal if they are to have a positive impact on the candidate and temporary worker. Juggling this isn’t simple and, of course, it can take a lot of a consultant’s time to manage – particularly with a large temporary workforce that is distributed across multiple sites.
In episode 16 of the Staffing RecOps podcast I spoke to Cameron Edwards, SVP client strategy and operations at Matlen Silver – an IT services and IT consulting company based in the US – about the firm’s own experience with this issue and how technology has been an enabler.
So, how can recruitment agencies use a range of technology to improve their communication with candidates?
Getting communication right
The need to provide a top-notch candidate communication strategy is a no-brainer in my view. It’s common-knowledge in the recruitment sector that one of the biggest bug-bears of workers is the lack of communication. This is an issue across a range of points in the candidate journey. Applicants are put-off when they don’t hear back after applying or fail to be given feedback following an interview.
It is also common within the temporary workforce to hear employees complain that communication ended from day one of their placement. When we consider that these individuals are on a contract with a set end date, failing to communicate with them once they’re on a placement could have a negative impact when it comes to redeploying them for future projects.
And while you might not be communicating with workers, they will be talking to one-another. Where large groups of temporary workers are thrown together for a project, word-of-mouth will soon spread. If another agency who has supplied workers for the same contract is in regular contact with these individuals, your temps and contractors will soon find out. And what’s stopping them from jumping ship if they see another firm seemingly taking better care of their applicants?
Clearly a robust communication strategy is needed, but doing so without the right technology and automated systems is almost impossible. The amount of engagement that recruiters need to manage is often beyond the scope of normal working hours.
Being able to use tools to automate much of this is becoming increasingly valuable, but before you do so, it’s important to set the foundations up correctly. As Cameron shared, there are a number of key steps that need to be followed:
- First and foremost, have an honest conversation about your communication. Look at the current situation and get feedback from your recruiters. Find out what prevents them from communicating as often as is needed and what their experience is. Seek insights from your onboarding teams around regular challenges and proactively ask for feedback from your candidates.
- It’s also important to be prepared for negative feedback. This doesn’t mean that nothing is working, but without this honest insight, meaningful change can’t be delivered.
- Get all departments involved in the process, from onboarding and TA teams to the marketing department and recruiters. Anyone involved in the communication process needs to input into what improvements are required if they are to also buy into changes in the long-term.
- Put the end user in the driver seat. The candidate and recruiters will be the ones most heavily impacted by any automation, so make sure they have control. Ensure any communication remains personal.
- Accept that it’s a process of trial and error. As Cameron explained, it’s an on-going journey. Success in the world of communication doesn’t happen with one change. It requires regular evolution and adjustments. It needs to evolve as people’s own communication preferences change.
While it can certainly help with the communication process, it is important to add that staffing firms should be mindful of the fact that certain things shouldn’t be automated. Calls and meetings still have significant value in strengthening the relationship with workers and these need to very much be led by consultants. What Cameron did highlight that I found particularly interesting, though, is how the business uses automated messages internally as reminders for the team. Essentially, they are using technology to remind them to be human.
Recruitment agency communication
I will say, in the Matlen Silver’s example, the firm had a large team managing the change, but not every recruitment business will have the resources to deliver this. But that’s why technology can be an enabler of change at both the planning and implementation stages of communications strategies.
Where and how your firm’s journey on this topic starts may vary, but it needs to start somewhere. Once you miss an important touchpoint with a candidate, the relationship is damaged. Using technology can offer continuity of communication without overburdening consultants. And it prevents human error from impacting the experience. When juggling a multitude of workers with staggered start and finish dates, it’s impossible for one person to stay on top of everything by themselves while also maintaining relationships.
It may sound odd, but automaton and technology can help create a more humanised approach in recruitment.