In late 2014, Atlantic writer, Alana Semuels, penned an article titled, “A New Business Strategy: Treating Employees Well”. Describing how companies fluctuated their treatment of employees throughout history, Semuels wrote,
In the heady, post-World War II years, companies offered free turkeys at Thanksgiving and gave employees perks, hoping to recruit and retain the most talented workers. But as the pool of available labor grew, companies figured out that they didn’t need to keep employees for life: If one person left, they could hire someone else. And as activist investors pushed companies to downsize and distribute profits back to shareholders, many employers gave up on considering the needs of their employees when deciding how to run their business.
If one person left, they could hire someone else.
This was the mantra for many companies and business leaders. Economic conditions did not demand employers thought twice about their employees and so they didn’t. Yet, conditions began to change in 2014 as Semuels noted “Now, some economists say there may be a move the other way.” What is that other way? It’s a business world where people have options and opportunities. It’s a business world that cares about their people.
It’s a change that has clearly gained traction within the traditional business community. Entrepreneur Richard Branson chimes in with the statement: “Your employees are your company’s real competitive advantage. They’re the ones making the magic happen – so long as their needs are being met.
The Cost of Not Caring for Employees
Business leaders have begun discussing the cost of not treating employees well in an economy with options. Typical estimates put the cost of replacing terminated employees at 30% of the position’s annual salary; a total of thousands upon thousands of dollars. However you calculate it, it’s clear that it’s less expensive to retain than to replace.
The same is true in the staffing industry and caring for contractors. The American Staffing Association reports that temporary employee and contractor turnover is at the highest it’s been in over a decade, at 386% by the end of 2015. Contractor tenure is at just 10.7 weeks, the lowest since 2003. These numbers mean recruiters are being forced to work twice as hard to find replacement contractors. It’s not hard to imagine how staffing firms would benefit from contractors who willingly stayed for project after project.
The Impact of Contractor Care
Some staffing firms are seeing the clear message and are working hard to become human again. Their core strategy is “Contractor Care”. After years of horror stories involving poor contractor care and cutting stereotypes about the woes of recruiting, staffing firms are beginning to spend more time evaluating ways to care for their temporary employees and contractors.
One example is a shift in branding for one staffing industry giant: Aerotek recently went through a rebranding campaign that sought to once again place their people at the center of their business. Aerotek realized that despite their lengthy client list and well-recognized brand, taking care of their contractors needed to be a central part of their message moving forward.
Implementing and Measuring Contractor Care
So what does Contractor Care look like? At the heart of this concept is the caring and personable approach towards recruiting and communicating with contractors. It means a designated point of contact who takes the time to learn about the contractor’s career goals, values, interests, and life. It means regular check-ins, opportunities to provide feedback, and even social events for face-to-face time. It also requires flawless logistics, like streamlined timecard and payroll processes and quality benefits.
As contractors see more job options as the economy continues to stabilize, it is likely that staffing firms will struggle with dipping retention rates. As such, it’s important to thoroughly measure these rates (both retention within a single project and retention of a contractor from one project to the next) in order to evaluate how effective your Contractor Care program is.
At the end of the day, Contractor Care is key to building a foundation of trust and integrity in the staffing relationship. Neglecting this cornerstone best practice is the fast track to high contractor turnover rates and, consequently, burned out, overworked recruiters.
At echogravity, our team of marketers come from a staffing and recruiting background, which means we know what you’re experiencing in today’s market. We’d love to share our insight on how staffing firms like yours are attracting and engaging key players. Just reach out so we can learn more about you.