The Hateful Love of Staffing

No comments

The Hateful Love of Staffing

In October 2015, the experts at Staffing Industry Analysts released a report rating primary staffing suppliers. The report was chock full of useful, interesting information, but I’d like to focus on one primary area I found compelling—the Net Promoter Score, a measure which rates customer loyalty.

Scores on this metric can range from -100% to + 100%. Buyers gave their primary staffing suppliers a Net Promoter Score of -4%.

That’s not very good.

To put these numbers in context, US Airways, whose employees have a reputation for rudeness and poor customer service, received a Net Promoter Score of -8% in 2014. In sharp contrast, Southwest Airlines, whose employees are well-known for their courtesy and stellar customer service, received a score of 62% that same year.

Based on this survey, satisfaction among primary staffing suppliers is a mere four points better than the infamously rude and universally maligned customer service representatives at US Airways.

Again, that’s not very good. Without pulling any punches, I’ll go ahead and say it outright: that’s just plain bad.

Let’s compare these numbers to comments made by a panel of chief executives from four prominent staffing firms in the healthcare industry. At the Healthcare Staffing Summit in Las Vegas in September 2015, panelists agreed that their services were not viewed as a necessary evil, but rather, the consensus among executives was that buyers were satisfied with their services. The prevailing view was that their clients valued both their contributions and their partnership.

These conflicting views clearly beg the question: which is correct? The data in the survey, or the insights of the CEO’s?

As with most things in business and in life, the truth is most likely a combination of the two.

In the current economic landscape, healthcare facilities have scores of open jobs and not enough acceptable candidates to fill them. Healthcare leaders, like leaders in many businesses, have turned to the staffing industry for their specialized expertise in solving their hiring issues.

But these organizations, across the board, often make a mistake in the way they approach the staffing industry. They treat staffing services as a commodity. They pressure their vendors on price. They go from one company to the next, like a rug merchant in a busy open-air market. They cast one supplier aside for another based on price alone, even when the current one has provided nothing but excellent results.

These quixotic, fickle attitudes about staffing providers remind me of how many people view insurance: it’s a necessary evil they wish was optional, especially when it’s time to pay the premium or renew their policy. However, when they have a claim, they do an about-face. They’re glad it’s there, and they expect their insurance provider to solve their problems without any hassle. They want their claim settled and they want their adjuster to cut them a check yesterday.

The insurance industry occupies a unique space in the business world. Customers don’t want to buy policies, but legal and business requirements mean they have to buy policies. That’s why the insurance industry—which everyone loves to complain about ad nauseam—has such high market penetration.

But what about the staffing industry, which offers a service virtually no one is legally bound to acquire?

Eric Gregg, CEO of the business survey provider Inavero, recently conducted an appraisal in partnership with The results? They found that only 32% of companies used external staffing services this past year.

In the staffing industry this number can be seen in two ways: first, as a mistake on the part of the companies, and second, as an opportunity for staffing firms.


Because many companies simply aren’t very good at hiring. When they hire on their own, their efforts come with zero guarantees. Yet they insist on going it alone.

You can change this, but first, you have to change attitudes about staffing services. It’s incumbent on the everyone in the staffing industry to eliminate the hate and leverage the love.

How do you do this?

The key is one word: impact. Firms that deliver impact in creative and sustainable ways have significantly higher NPS (Net Promoter Score) than those who do not. Remember, NPS measures customer loyalty.

And that’s what you need to stay ahead: adding more and more loyal, repeat customers.

Where should you start?

I’ve identified five critical impact areas that can help you eliminate the hate and leverage the love. An in-depth exploration of each area will help you maximize its impact on your services.

To make best use of this process, I suggest you review each area carefully. Ask yourself the questions I’ve provided. Answer each question with unflinching honesty. Then, take it to the next level by creating a few of your own.

FlexibilityImpact #1 – Flexibility
How can we deliver more flexible solutions that solve more of our customers’ problems?

AccuracyImpact #2 – Accuracy
How accurately do we match our jobs and candidates? What do we need to change to achieve perfect matching?

QualityImpact #3 – Quality
Where is our quality of talent or service inconsistent? How can we leverage our strengths to improve our quality across all areas?

ValueImpact #4 – Value
What do our customers value most? How can we best learn what they value and deliver more of that?

ImmediacyImpact #5 – Immediacy
Customers typically need someone yesterday. How can we deliver more of the talent they need the moment they call?


Final Thoughts

Keep this number in mind: 32%. That’s the number of companies using external staffing services. That low market penetration represents tremendous untapped potential. Tapping that potential will only happen if staffing and recruitment firms increase their impact.

The best way to maximize impact?

Eliminate the hate and leverage the love.


Scott WintripThe Hateful Love of Staffing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *