Buyers want partnership ... what the heck does that mean?

I have always been intrigued and puzzled by the term "partnership" when it pertains to the staffing world. Anytime you ask a buyer of staffing services what they want from their staffing vendors, pat comes the answer: "we want a true partner."

OK, that has a nice ring to it, but what exactly does this mean? It's like the term "best practices." Sounds important, but... Anyhow, I digress. Back to what is partnership. I have never been able to get a clear answer to that question. I do have a faint suspicion that some think partnership = bill rate reductions. But that wouldn't be a fair partnership, now would it?

To get more clarity on this, in our 2009 Buyers' Survey we asked buyers of staffing services for some constructive advice for staffing firms. After reading through all their comments, I think I gained a better understanding of "partnership." Of course, buyers do indeed want lower bill rates. But once you get past that point, they are also looking for:

  • A staffing firm that can give them more strategic advice on how to run their contingent worker program rather than simply focusing on getting people.
  • A staffing firm that can delivery quality workers that actually fulfill the client's need. And for this, they are looking for staffing firms that truly understand their business.
  • A staffing firm that shares knowledge and training.
  • A staffing firm that works with the process set up by the client rather than against it. Read: don't try to call the hiring manager directly if there is a VMS/MSP in place.
  • A staffing firm that is professional and honest in its dealings.

You can read the complete report on this on our Web site. However, I am curious to know if, in your experience, the definition of "partnership" is different from what I have defined above.


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