What Leonardo da Vinci taught us about Temp Recruitment

TempBuddy CEO Roderick Smyth has an article in this month’s Global Recruiter magazine. Telling the TempBuddy story and how an attitude of innovation has helped re-imagine the world of temp recruitment using current technology and cultural trends.

In a busy office awash with bright colours, the busiest coffee machine in the known universe powers TempBuddy’s talented people who have created 2 brilliant things. The first, is a wall dedicated to people who inspire us. Artist’s, cartoon and game characters, musicians, inventors, designers, business moguls and Bill Boorman all have a place on our “Wall of Heroes”. One person on the wall is Leonardo Da Vinci, the person who inspired the second thing, here’s he thought us about innovating the temp recruitment process.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Many years ago we thought, as many still do, that temp recruitment was similar to permanent recruitment. We tried, as many still do, to fit a temp solution around a CRM product. We tried, as many still do, to apply technology to the most obvious part of the process, online timesheets.

We realised, as many still don’t, that this was wrong and we’ve done something about it.

Temp Recruitment Inspired by Innovation:

Drawing inspiration from other industries helped identify the problems with the contingent recruitment process we have completely reimagined temp recruitment software, we are not CRM or end to end services for agencies, we have built a Temp Experience platform.

Mobile apps have been game changers in many industries so we asked ourselves why hasn’t the recruitment industry really capitalised on it. We have geo-location, cameras, 3G and more recently 4G capabilities that people simply never leave home without. Whether it’ is the click of a mouse, the tap of a screen touching two phones together or sending messages to your heating system before you arrive home from a busy day. People of all social classes are becoming digital immigrants and living with surrounded by the internet of things. In fact anyone under 20 years of age is a digital native. There entire world can be managed from an array of devices serving a variety of purposes whether it’s gaming, organising their life or working.

With this in mind we created a mobile-first technology platform for workers and agencies that brings them closer together. We’ve taken a traditional industry, indentifiied it’s problems, like many before us have (the knowing) and applied the technology of today to completely turn it on its head.

Uber is a great example, not only can you hail a cab from anywhere to your exact location, you can hail a cab and a driver that you would like, the type of car you like and then rate the experience. Uber can learn more about you and they use this data to provide all of its users with a better service. In short, Uber learns.

It took the taxi industry and completely flipped it disempowering the ranks and empowering the customer each for their own good. The customer gets value for money, the company can provide a better, techno-centric service that is essential in the digital age and thereby grow their businesses. So how do we apply the same logic to temp recruitment?

Connecting the Who, the Why and the When:

Recruitment offices the length and breadth of the country are still swimming in paper, spending millions of pounds doing work that does not add any value and more importantly, stifles the growth of their business. On the other side of the coin temps are failing to work at their full availability because of the volume of administration and the lack of one simple method of managing their availability. Similarly agencies struggle to deploy their contingent workforce relying on ring-a-rounds, emails and SMS. (Sound familiar?)

In creating TempBuddy, we first had to create a methodology that could re-interpret a business process and apply to it all of the technological, cultural and environmental trends that exist ‘Now’. So what we created was a methodology, vast in scope that delivers simplicity as a result, in a way that doesn’t require complex habitual change, that could be applied to almost any business.

We start by looking to the origin of each element to a process, breaking it down by asking what the motivation was for creating this process in the first place and then asking what makes this motivation still relevant today. We would then look at where cultural and technology changes could impact this motivation and in turn whether individually, or as a sum of the parts, this impact could drive a natural efficiency in the process.

We did this for each step of the temp process, always starting by developing an understanding behind the reason each piece of the process existed. Take for example timesheet signing. The reason agencies want timesheet signed by a manager is so that procurement will pay the invoice. The reason procurement want it signed is so they have a trusted person (their manager) confirm that the right person (the temp) turned up at the right place (the workplace where they report to the manager) at a particular time. We call this The Who, The Where and The When, and we realised that the sole overriding reason for the entire process of timesheet signed and approval was to satisfy procurement that The Who, The Where and The When is accurate.

Armed with this we were able to apply current technologies and cultural habits to answer these questions. Smartphone GPS for The Where, taking a selfie for The Who and atomically precise data in real time for The When.

Technology that works vs. Technology you can work with:

Agencies that can connect their front office and back office seamlessly with their clients and temps will undoubtedly free up resources to such an extent that they will be able to redeploy their time and efforts in to their ultimate, goal growing their business. The millions of pounds spent on chasing invoices, booking and rebooking, seeking approval and other tasks will be a thing of the past but the existing solutions that all of which solve one specific problem do not solve the problems that exist in agencies, they alleviate them without adding any additional value.

No agency, regardless of their sector or indeed type of recruitment would market themselves as having a highly efficient front, mid and back office to attract new talent. The bulk of marketing spend and sales effort is attributed to convincing a would be worker that your agency is the one that will find them work time after time, the efficiency is secondary but essential to the temp experience.

Clients are becoming more discerning with who they work with on PSLs asking agencies to show that they have the capability to come up with something, anything, that is new or different that they have never seen before to get them the right people. However, when most agencies make technology decisions the focus is couldn’t be further removed from innovation, patching up their broken office set-up rather than getting closer to the people that matter most.

Once again, taking our methodology and empowering temps to look after their availability, billing, expenses and approval using a mobile device we have taken a once highly fragmented process with several parties involved and simplified it in to a series of clicks that you can count on one hand.

Secondly, not all workers and clients are created equal, employers don’t just need bodies to simply deal with a sudden increase in work. Similar to permanent recruitment, they need capable, reliable and efficient people and the worker needs to know that they will fit in to a company comfortably. They deserve a candidate experience that has long been attributed exclusively to full time staff.

Capturing this information means that there is an entirely new set of metrics for the the temp workforce, performance management that gives the client and worker an anonymous forum to rate each other. If the client and temp match up it’s likely they would like to work together again and agencies know who they can rely on, where they fit in and charge an appropriate fee for that temp. And there you have it, something truly unique to get you on to that PSL.

The Sum of all Parts:

We know, as many still don’t, that innovation does not come in creating a platform for agencies combining all parts of the recruitment process in one. We’ve done that, it’s very nice but retrofitting new problems in to an old solution cannot work.

Da Vinci also stated that “people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” It is a philosophy that seperates us from the many that still don’t.

It is by creating worker-centric mobile platform we are not retrofitting but adapting the current technology to fit the digital age rather than dealing with it. Changing your systems year in and year out will never solve the problems you have and never get any agency the seamless integration it craves because existing technology does not address the cultural and environmental shifts that have occurred with mobile devices and the availability of data.

Technology will move on regardless and we realise that for all the CRM, Payroll and support systems in place that no matter how many features you get there is no real competitive advantage because they are static by their very nature. In the digital age the pipeline that has served recruitment agencies so well in the past will be replaced by a data driven recruitment funnel that will not only attract new talent but retain them by learning what it is they want and need.

Unlike Uber and other mobile apps, the solutions that exist today do not learn they merely collect information on users that quickly expires, they don’t apply the data they have to gather new insights, that is what will set your agency apart.

This article was republished in February 2015 issue of Global Recruiter magazine