Developing the Candidate-Employee Experience Continuum in Staffing

Three ways staffing leaders can build a seamless candidate and employee experience with a CX mindset.

Bridge from candidate to employee

Candidate and employee experience is a team sport. But without the right leadership, it can end up looking more like a game of hot potato. Responsibility to engage, serve and understand candidates and new hires gets flipped from person-to-person, landing on whomever is closest to the matter at hand.

It’s neither strategic nor sustainable that way, and it’s nearly impossible to measure and improve. But delivering poor candidate and employee experiences is a surefire way to shrink retention and future referrals.

You’ve seen it before: Recruiter A makes the intro and then Recruiter B ends up with the interview and extending the offer. Recruiter A meets the new hire on the first day and kicks off onboarding. IT gets equipment and access ready. Training tells the new hire which courses to take. The hiring manager shows them how to log into Slack; other team members tell them where the bathroom is. But no one explains where the coffee filters are until Lori from marketing walks in and recognizes the confusion.

And that’s just through day one of the experience!

Hot potato candidate and employee experience doesn’t happen because there’s a lack of process. It happens because there’s a lack of strategy. That’s why staffing leadership is so important.

But first, what does employee experience have to do with staffing?

Employee experience is often mistaken as something you only do as an employer. So, why does a staffing leader need to worry about it? Well, it’s not about you. Employee experience is how a person feels about the work they do, where they do it and how they’re supported, from the very first contact as a candidate until they walk out on their last day.

Semantics about whether they’re classified as an “employee” don’t matter here. It’s a feeling.

It’s emails, texts and interview invites, onboarding, computing power, diversity, inclusion, recruiter check-ins, watercooler chats, how capable their manager is, redeployment options, filing complaints, growth opportunities, safety, benefits, surveys, exit interviews and how good that coffee is.

Sometimes the term “employee” trips up staffing agencies. People you place aren’t “employees” the way an HR manager thinks of them. But as a staffing agency, you bear (at least half) the responsibility of supporting a quality experience. Particularly if you consider redeployment and referrals important.

So, is candidate experience different than employee experience?

In name and timing only. That’s the way we see it.

Candidate experience is the collective interactions a job-seeker has with your staffing agency across the hiring process, from sourcing and recruiting through interviews, offer negotiation (or rejection) into onboarding. It’s how they feel about your agency, the recruiter, the company they get placed with, the work they hope to do there and how they’re supported across the hiring process.

Employee experience is the next stage of candidate experience. Thanks to employment brand, it’s a continuum. It’s a seamless bridge between being up for the job and nailing it.

Done well, that continuum can set you apart as a staffing agency, improve your redeployment rate and exponentially grow your referral network.

And none of that happens by accident.

Candidate-employee experience requires strategy and — staffing leadership

Employment brand shows people what to expect from working with your staffing agency to find a job. It sets and manages expectations through consistent messaging and purposeful experiences, from the first moment a candidate lays eyes on your recruiter’s intro InMail.

Consider employment brand the backbone of candidate/employee experience. And it’s the responsibility of staffing leadership to solidify, evangelize and demonstrate it from the top-down. Employment brand sets and manages expectations for how recruiters should communicate with and support candidates across the continuum. It should also be what they see, hear and feel at their job too.

During the candidate experience, your employment brand makes promises about who you are as a staffing agency and what you stand for. So, it’s essential that your employment brand is an authentic expression of your company’s culture, mission and attitude.

The candidates you place will expect those pillars of your employment brand to be constants when they cross the bridge from candidate status to new hire — and onto any future redeployment opportunities.

Three ways staffing leaders can build continuous candidate and employee experience with a CX mindset

In today’s uncertain market, staffing leadership has an obligation to build engagement models for candidates and new hires with customer experience (CX) best practices at their heart.

Staffing agencies’ customers in this instance are candidates and placed workers. With that in mind, we’ve outlined three steps to help staffing leaders harness CX best practices and build experience-driven strategies for the future of work.

1. Research and feedback loops

Disruptive brands, like Apple, AirBnb and Amazon, didn’t revolutionize the way we live through magic or guessing. They asked people. They collected feedback. They tested hypotheses. And they repeat the feedback loop to continually innovate and get better.

The same can (and should) be done for your candidate and employee experience.

Even if feedback on your current experience delivery is bad news, you’ll never know how to improve, how to stop the bleeding of churn or devastating morale if you don’t ask. Make it a habit. You can automate check-in and feedback emails as part of candidate and employee engagement workflows or even tap into conversational bots to ask opinions from your staffing agency’s portal. Quick and regular polls can help keep a pulse on placed-talent sentiment. Thoughtful surveys can be planned across a year and automated as part of an engagement cycle, too.

One action step to get started: Implement three surveys this year. One during candidate experience, one after new hires’ first 90 days, one following redeployment.

Each of these anonymous surveys should be 1-3 brief questions. Build these surveys to help you understand how people feel about the specific experience, what went well and how it can be better. No dissertations necessary. Aim to take no more than five minutes of your customers’ time.

Over the course of a year, these small surveys will add up to enough experience-based data to set strong goals for the next year.

2. Set SMART goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive. It’s easy to say we want to “get better” at delivering a cohesive candidate and employee experience. But what does better mean? How will you know you’ve arrived?

Two places to start when setting these goals: redeployment rate and referrals.

For staffing agencies, redeployment depends on maintaining relationships with candidates you’ve already placed, understanding their career objectives, over the long term, as much as knowing their strengths and what opportunities lie around the corner. Like anything worthwhile, this type of relationship requires work. And plenty of communication.

Referrals meanwhile will rise and fall with the quality of the experiences you deliver.

Experience-based feedback not only helps staffing leaders understand candidates and placed-talent’s needs, but can help establish metrics for success and prioritize initiatives. It can also help you discover ways to engage your talent pool to achieve business goals and attract more qualified talent.

One action step to get started: Create a small group brainstorm to imagine how success can be measured when it comes to candidate and employee experience. Don’t just stick to recruiters. Invite at least 2-3 candidates and a few placed workers and even hiring managers. (Yes, this can totally be done via Zoom!)

Discuss what an optimal candidate and employee experience looks and feels like to them (remind them: it’s different for everyone). Then work together to identify 3-5 metrics that can help identify where the experience stands today and how you can build toward success over 3, 6 and 12 months.

3. Design experiences and iterate

To start, you’ll need to map your current candidate and employee experiences. Keep in mind, as noted above, different people have different experiences. That’s OK. They should! You’ll want to keep in mind how your staffing agency’s recruiters can meet them where they are when paths diverge.

For instance: digital transformation has made paperwork easier to process and faster for many people to fill out. But not everyone. Getting feedback from people with physical or visual impairments can help you learn how to make digital processes more accessible for all of the people you place.

To that end, technology itself isn’t a strategy. Efficiency isn’t inherent in going digital. Staffing leaders today need to look at candidate, employee -and- recruiter needs and then see how automation, full or self-service interfaces, chatbots, AI and other innovations can unlock value and efficacy in their processes.

Success here depends on identifying the right-sized solution that will help your staffing operation grow and scale.

One action step to get started: Map your current candidate and employee experiences. Go deeper than first-day paperwork. What does benefits education look like? How does a placed employee file a complaint? When are you checking in for the first time? How long until we start talking about redeployment? What do they do if they want to quit? Plot the person’s course from having the question and being satisfied with the result.

Using the SMART goals you established in step 2, review your experience maps to pinpoint how you will measure your performance. Identify who will collect the data and report on it. Get clear on when you’ll check in and put that data to work.

That’s where iterating helps. Your candidate and employee experiences probably aren’t perfect. And if they are, they won’t stay that way if you don’t continually improve and grow with the changing landscape of work, candidate and employee needs. Use regular check-ins to measure your progress and continue to tweak your formula for delivering better experiences.

Set goals, measure performance and meet expectations

Candidate experience is a powerful thing. It will make or break a person’s impression of your organization, whether they want to work there or ever refer qualified candidates for other jobs.

Above all that, candidate experience sets an expectation.

This is how this company makes me feel. This is how I’ll feel when I work with them to find a job. This is how my utterly talented friends will feel if I refer them, too.

But you have to live up to that expectation. That’s the power of employee experience.

Deliver bolder experiences

Curious how your staffing agency can deliver bolder candidate and employee experiences while realizing unprecedented levels of efficiency?

The WorkLLama platform supports each phase of candidate and employee experience from a single platform. It brings together all of your touchpoints, contacts, workflows and data to give staffing leadership and team members:

  • Visibility into performance and progress
  • Analytics on what’s working and how to optimize
  • Power to send messages, surveys, polls and alerts
  • AI-driven workflows and chatbot that get smarter with every interaction
  • Ability to deliver holistic experiences from a single platform

Schedule a demo to see how WorkLLama integrates with your ATS, automates cross-channel engagement (including conversational chatbot) and exponentially grows your talent pipeline with referral capabilities.

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