Fall_in_Love_with_an_MSP“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”

— Vincent Van Gogh

Labor of love

In this industry, in this human-centric sphere of business, we invest heavily in talent — and those investments come from the heart as much as the mind. We constantly seek new ways and novel approaches for inspiring, motivating and driving the workforce to its greatest potential. Yet in business, we rarely seem to invoke love. At the essence of our labors, though, isn’t it love that fuels our successes? The best jobs, the most meaningful innovations and our proudest achievements all spring from outcomes rooted in love: the passion we feel for our work, our colleagues and the mission we share. Pursuing a profession in human resources, and its many derivations, is a choice that surpasses mere career selection — it’s a deeply felt desire to develop, inspire and help other people. In short, it’s a labor of love.

Despite these values and commitments, the current state of affairs in the global economy has thrown its share of obstacles in that path. HR leaders seem stymied by the constricting and increasingly automated structures that businesses have adopted to regain lost ground. They’re mired by evolving compliance standards arising from new regulations and processes. Meanwhile, procurement professionals struggle with containing costs while attempting to deploy strategic staff augmentation initiatives. And hiring managers, who need quality talent in the face of skills shortages, are drowning under the increased operational responsibilities imposed on them. It’s what researchers have termed “time poverty.” And the effects ultimately impact workers, who feel dissociated and marginalized.

According to Gallup’s 2014 year-end report, over 70 percent of American working professionals admit feeling disengaged. Not only are two-thirds of the nation’s talent dissatisfied, their active disengagement costs companies between $450 and $550 billion per year.

So where has the love gone? It’s still there, even though it may seem remote. To rekindle that spark, it’s more important than ever for organizations to embrace MSP programs. Managed Service Providers and their staffing partners have one prime directive — people. They understand that while technology enables the hiring process, relationships and interpersonal connections empower it. In an era of time poverty, the nature of an MSP program creates a team of people leaders who are time-wealthy when it comes to talent. We’re going to look at the reasons why now is the moment for hiring managers — and talent — to fall in love with MSPs, and feel the love in return.

Love in the era of time poverty

The old adage “time is money” seems quite literal these days. Our working hours are financially quantified, so we worry more about wasting or saving them, and using them prudently. When economies and incomes fluctuate, time becomes more precious. It’s not just a matter of perception, it’s a problem of distribution. Shifts in the way people work and live have changed how time is experienced and valuated. Hiring managers are desperately seeking top talent to fill in-demand positions, yet time seems to conspire against them. Their workloads have become more demanding, they’ve been stretched thinner by lean operations that attempt to curb overhead, and they have fewer people in critical positions to perform the work, which is backing up and piling higher.

During the recession’s slow recovery, enterprises focused almost exclusively on improving the customer experience. Today, they’re scrambling to enhance the candidate experience as talent concerns have become the top priority for most businesses. The ongoing rise of contingent workers — who now represent 40 percent of the country’s labor force and over 25 percent of the average company’s resources — has helped. And yet, time poverty remains a significant constraint for hiring managers, procurement leaders and HR. To compensate, they find themselves under mounting pressure to automate people processes through technology — something many consider distant and impersonal, especially talent.

While we marvel at the advances of Big Data and predictive analytics, time poverty may be fostering over-reliance on them alone. The Atlantic’s 2013 article, “They’re Watching You at Work,” may have predicted the absence of love some are feeling today. In that piece, Xerox VP Teri Morse warned: “Some of our hiring managers don’t even want to interview anymore — they just want to hire the people with the highest scores.”

Big (impersonal) Data?

Business leaders seeking to streamline processes and bolster efficiencies are pushing data-driven recruitment, hiring and human resource management processes. Employers can utilize Big Data to evaluate candidate skills, experience and knowledge — removing bias from the process — before shortlisting prospects and scheduling interviews. When interpreted correctly, these datasets can also predict success based on matches between a candidate’s characteristics and similar traits found in the target group. They improve critical KPIs such as time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, diversity, retention and productivity. Recent research from Bersin by Deloitte, however, finds that only four percent of organizations accurately predict or model their workforces through Big Data.

At the end of the day, algorithms amount to an array of correlations. The right tools are worthless without the right people to analyze them — or the time to do so. And correlation alone, as an elementary principle of research, does not imply causality — though it can lead to false positives and negatives. For example, data would tell us that eating can make us overweight, which correlates to the presence of food. That doesn’t mean we should stop eating food.

Here’s another example. One system that analyzes candidates’ social media data flagged a profile picture of a same-sex couple kissing as “sexually explicit material.” The photo was not lewd or meant to be provocative. The technology simply couldn’t take into account a committed non-traditional relationship and reconcile the image as a normal expression of love — not “graphic content.”

With time becoming a scarce commodity, it’s convenient to allow technology and Big Data to make hiring decisions. Yet, these systems are not intended to replace the human dimensions vital to interviewing, hiring or firing — even if organizations are allowing them to. They can’t relate behaviors to how specific tasks are accomplished, they can’t determine how individuals interact with one another, and they can’t fully engage candidates in opportunities. Unlike human staffing professionals, computers can’t see resumes as expressions of aspirations, desires and personal goals — only a matrix of skills, degrees, industries and employers.

It takes a village

The beauty of an MSP program for time-strapped, overwhelmed clients is that it unifies technology, people and processes in harmony. MSPs bring the humanization of human resources through careful data analysis, tracking and reporting of performance, compliance with labor regulations, cost containment, and a high-touch approach that cultivates interactions and engagement with talent. And everyone feels the love. MSPs are unburdened by the internal corporate demands that have left hiring managers, procurement leaders and HR executives time impoverished. In fact, their time is devoted to shouldering those burdens and focusing on people objectives, freeing client managers to concentrate on business objectives.

“It takes a village,” the saying goes. With MSPs and their staffing allies, clients receive a virtual town. The shared services structure offers accountability and flexibility, facilitating rapid responses to service or performance concerns, while ensuring optimal staffing levels. MSPs handle all the responsibilities of managing suppliers and contingent workers — they oversee reporting, metrics tracking, supplier selection, requisition distribution, billing, the transformation of fixed costs to variable costs, and more. Most MSPs also have teams of analysts to curate Big Data in the program for stellar results. In that manner, they prevent communication breakdowns and have the ability to connect with people on a real and meaningful level.

What MSPs create for their clients are not outsourced workforce management programs, they’re talent communities. And their staffing partners are the architects, coaches and tour guides for these communities. They don’t merely recruit by gathering details that will be used to match talent to employers when position needs arise — they engage talent. In essence, the process becomes the curation of jobs: interacting with candidates, capturing and maintaining their interest, communicating job prospects, developing their personal brands and online profiles, and all other aspects of facilitating the placement process.

When MSPs enlist elite staffing curators, there’s even more for hiring managers to love. Staffing professionals are early adopters of innovations in sourcing technologies, online talent marketplaces and recruiting platforms. Their involvement in these communities, coupled with their willingness to explore new technologies, helps them identify burgeoning categories of talent and skill sets. They also begin engaging with this talent earlier than hiring managers and corporate recruiters, allowing them to cultivate relationships and build networks.

Staffing curators talk to prospective candidates — both active and passive — to identify talent who will be suitable for current and future positions with a variety of clients. They engage candidates and compel them to talk about their backgrounds, skills, qualifications, accomplishments, work experiences and career goals first. Based on this approach, staffing curators quickly ascertain which talent will present ideal matches for clients, and whether or not to pursue candidates further.

Job seekers don’t want to be courted by impersonal recruiters who churn out poorly correlated job descriptions from a mill of keywords and titles that may have triggered loose results in algorithms. They want to form relationships with people who can discuss a position in depth, who have sway in the hiring process and who can engage in meaningful dialog about the opportunity. They want to feel the love, and in well-oiled MSP programs, they do.

All you need is love

To succeed in this new era, especially as socially conscious Millennials take center stage, we need to find ways of gaining trust, acceptance and nurturing relationships — making love, not war. Today’s candidates are different, and so are their philosophies, goals, motivations and job-seeking processes. They expect socialization. They want to feel a sense of belonging, connection and passion for their work. And that’s what they get in an MSP engagement. For hiring managers, this translates to a culture populated by talented, motivated and happy professionals — where the complexities of workforce management, compliance, analytics, and cost savings are easily and lovingly handled by people dedicated to the business of people.