This is Where We Say Goodbye

There’s conventional wisdom that there are just things you never say at an exit interview. An understanding that for many reasons, primarily focused on preservation of relationships and references, it is difficult to leave behind meaningful feedback about why the decision to leave was made. There are few that have not experienced the exit interview and probably fewer who would argue that it is almost impossible to provide benevolent feedback to enable reflection within a saavy organization and provide improvement suggestions for the employment experience.

For the purposes of this article, let’s imagine ourselves as a saavy Contingent Workforce Management (CWM) organization in possession of that mythical realistic and freely spoken feedback provided by talent exiting the organization. What better of an industry to consider the impact of and solutions for this phenomenon than an industry comprised of professionals hired to manage hiring and employment processes. Would we be surprised by the experience reported at our organization and the feedback shared? And perhaps most importantly, how could we use it to more effectively attract top talent, retain their knowledge and commitment, and create powerful brand ambassadors for our organization?  

As do all relationships, the employment relationship begins with an intrinsic attraction to the nature of the role and so it’s important to build our approach with a perspective of what attracts people to CWM roles. Simply put, the CWM industry tends to draw those with an affinity to human resources and sales roles. How so? CWM roles offer a dynamic environment in which CWM professionals can create talent relationships and earn commissions while doing so. It is an industry that many professionals come to in the beginning of their careers or during a career transition - and the industry welcomes one and all. It’s also fair to say that the industry can be considered a diverse and inclusive industry in which there are roles for a variety of ages, genders, and cultures. However, it’s important to note that it is not at all uncommon for CWM professionals to “fall into” the industry and for CWM roles to be a “stop along the way” in career progression to human resources, procurement, and other roles.

Our first challenge then, as this saavy CWM organization, becomes positioning the industry as a target that the top talent in the market works towards joining. The branding of the industry continues to evolve and the major players in the industry are creating flashier sites that have the look and feel of social media. Certainly, these rebranding efforts are playing a role in the attraction of talent to the industry. Yet, there are further opportunities to position the industry as more of a thought leader and less of a transactional vendor that may be accomplished through collaboration among industry groups in staffing, procurement, human resources, managed service providers, and vendor management systems: meaningful research, innovative tools and services, and conference events focused on cutting edge conversation continue to be needed. The evolution of the industry must stretch beyond marketing campaigns. We must ensure there is more than prattle about being a highly engaging industry with competitive compensation, attractive rewards packages, and recognition of the importance of a positive employment experience.

Next, let’s consider retention. One of the key rewards cited by talent as contributing to why they stay is career development opportunity. There are a handful of accreditations that are of benefit to the industry including Certified Contingent Workforce Professional (CCWP) and the Professional Human Resources/Senior Professional Human Resources (PHR/SPHR) which are becoming increasingly visible among CWM professionals within the industry. However there continue to be significant barriers to CWM professionals obtaining these advanced certifications and as an employer, we can begin to remove some of the barriers to obtaining these certifications (such as cost) by providing sponsorship and empowering employees to pursue and dedicate their personal time to obtain them. 

Areas of the industry will continue to collapse and expand in the years to come and as a saavy CWM organization, we can recognize and provide the benefit of employment flexibility as an avenue for retaining the broadest industry perspective and expertise within our organization.  We can enable this strategy by supporting the growth of our talent into the newer roles currently being born in the industry such as those requiring FMS and talent cloud expertise; we should also allow for faster or slower career progression based on individual desire and current life situation. Caution must be exercised that roles are not narrowly defined and that contribution of ideas towards the development and execution of strategy are encouraged and engaged. There are few industries as well poised as the CWM industry to be able to draw from the depth and breadth their talent brings to these roles.

Within a truly saavy organization in any industry, several conversations about what it wouldhave taken to ensure talent didn’t exit the organization occurred prior to the day systems access is disabled and security badge is returned. Whenever and wherever these connections are being made within the organization, it is critical that a space and a process is created for authentic exchanges to be made.  From branding of the industry to attracting top talent to providing growth opportunities to motivate, excite, and retain said talent, the CWM industry has the good fortune of being able to leverage an infinite mass of talent management expertise to contribute to an informed evolution of the industry.