Onboarding a Successful Placement for your Staffing Clients
By: John Rossheim
Onboarding should be much more than just completing forms and telling the worker how to sign in at the front desk. That’s especially true if you’re looking to create a successful placement for your staffing clients.
In fact, contingent workers need a similar approach as new employee orientation, including:
- Training on the often idiosyncratic systems of client companies
- Familiarity with all resources required to do the job
- Orientation about the company’s culture
We spoke with staffing firm executives to learn how they -- and their clients -- work to ensure 360-degree preparedness for temporary associates.
Everyone wants to see temporary workers get productive ASAP. It’s critical for the staffing agency to get client buy-in on effective onboarding. “It’s in our mutual best interest that candidates become productive more quickly,” says Sandy Mazur, a division president at staffing firm Spherion.
Delve into the client’s orientation process. Client companies have widely varying ideas about what constitutes an effective employee orientation; it’s the staffing agency’s job to establish the minimum requirements.
“We look at what the client would typically provide for orientation, then maybe make recommendations,” says Cassie Viau, marketing manager at staffing firm CoreMedical Group.
A couple of ideas for an effective orientation: “We sometimes give candidates site tours and both oral and written guidelines on what it takes to be successful,” says Mazur.
Put the temp’s role in context for the client’s full-time staff. It’s important that the client communicates to its internal team why contingent workers are being brought in and exactly what roles they will play. If this doesn’t happen, full-time staff may feel confused or even threatened.
“We’re there to be the middleman,” says Corey Pinkham, Northeast region recruiting director for Randstad Technologies.
Invest resources into the temp’s critical first day on the job. An agency may need to go the extra mile at the start of an assignment. In some cases, one of Randstad’s staffing professionals will accompany the IT consultant to the client site for day one on the job, which “takes the edge off those first meetings,” Pinkham says. “Then we check in periodically.”
Temps need as much training as FTEs do. Some clients may naively believe that temps need less preparation for the job than full-time employees do. Agencies need to persuade their clients otherwise.
“Every job in every company needs some degree of training,” says Mazur, and it’s the agency’s job to assess whether that training is being delivered. If software is required for the job, for example, Spherion makes sure there’s documented proof that the worker received training, Mazur says.
Ensure that the temp has access to all useful client resources. Temp workers can’t utilize tools that no one has told them about and yet this is a common shortcoming in onboarding. Staffing firms should work to ensure that their associates are granted access to all client resources that are required to get the job done.
“We also encourage clients to train contractors as they would full-time employees,” says Pinkham.
Keep communication lines open. It should go without saying -- but in the real world, it often doesn’t -- that staffing firms serve no one’s interest by leaving newly assigned associates to their own devices.
“Communication is about making sure the consultant understands the client’s true expectations,” and that’s ultimately up to the client, says Pinkham.
Don’t forget the little stuff. Temporary workers naturally will have a lot on their minds when they head to a new assignment; the agency and client company should do all it can to reduce distractions to the work at hand. This is essential temp management.
“Where do you park? Is it OK to bring in a bag lunch? These are the things that the client can quickly take off the candidate’s mind,” says Mazur.
Keep the conversation going. When can a staffing firm safely stopping asking associates how they’re doing? Never. Even when the temporary associate appears to be settled in an assignment, Spherion keeps asking how it’s going with questions like: Are you doing what you thought you would do? Are there any challenges?
Sell clients on the value that only they can add. Many of these practices require client companies to devote resources to each incoming temp. Clients need to be sold on their contributions to the onboarding.
“Clients are willing to invest the effort once they see they get an ROI for it,” says Mazur.