Beyond resourcing: 5 ways your MSP should help shape your strategic workforce planning strategy
Joel Forrester

3 minutes

Beyond resourcing: 5 ways your MSP should help shape your strategic workforce planning strategy

Talent shortages across the US, UK and beyond have now reached unprecedented levels. An aging population, rapid shifts in skills demand and a ‘great reassessment’ of workers’ priorities since the pandemic have created a perfect storm. The simple fact is that organisations can no longer readily get their hands on the people they need to achieve their business goals.


Recruiting quality talent into your business is what an MSP does best. But that’s not all. Your managed service provider should be more than just a purveyor of people – it should help shape your entire workforce strategy.


At a time when supply of talent continues to fall far short of demand, and businesses report regretting almost half of their recent hires, the value that your MSP can add to your strategic workforce planning strategy can’t be underestimated.


Here are five ways that your MSP can help transform your strategic workforce planning strategy.


1. Enabling you to become a DE&I champion

Diversity-specialist MSP partners can help you to reach under-represented talent pools, enabling you to tap into fresh candidate pipelines while also becoming a DE&I champion. They’ll also tackle the challenge of tracking and reporting on progress in this area.

While businesses across the globe grapple with severe skills shortages, there are also a significant number of individuals who have dropped out and are consequently ‘missing’ from the workforce. In fact, a recent analysis by Harvard Business School and Accenture suggests there are currently around 27 million ‘hidden’ workers in the US alone – with ‘similar proportions’ in markets like the UK and Germany. The report recommends how leaders can improve hiring practices to uncover missed talent pools, close skills gaps, and improve diversity.

There are candidates out there in the market who, for one reason or another, are being overlooked or screened out of recruitment processes. For example, ex-offenders, military veterans, neurodiverse individuals, and older workers. According to the US Census Bureau’s report in June 2020, the over 65yr population in the US grew by a third (34.6%) during the preceding 10 year period.

By looking in new places to fill established roles, businesses can quickly bridge talent gaps. For example, here at Guidant Global we worked with Shop Direct on itsAll we need is you!’ recruitment campaign, which was centred on candidate personas. We researched our previous peak workforce to establish four key target audiences. Three of these reflected existing worker trends: Daytime Dave, Nightshift Nick, and Weekend Wasim. The fourth persona, Female Farah, was designed to target a potential gap in applicant demographics and increase the number of female workers by challenging stereotype perceptions of a warehouse environment – and in turn, increase diversity.

Companies such as waste, recycling and facilities management firm, Biffa, and high street stalwart, Marks & Spencer, meanwhile, have expanded candidate pools by inviting applications from those with previous criminal convictions.

You MSP should review how you can widen traditional criteria to open up talent pools exponentially. So much has changed since 2019, and if you are not actively pursuing groups that are under-represented in your business, your sector, or wider workforce, then you’re missing a huge opportunity.

2. Boosting candidate engagement and experience

Great candidate engagement has always been a smart strategy to ensure access to top talent. But in today’s hyper-competitive market, successfully building relationships with potential recruits has never been more vital.

Today, offering anything less than a ‘consumer-grade’ experience throughout the recruitment process and beyond will result in losing talent to the competition. Consider how engaging your advertising or assessment tactics are, and how you are keeping silver and bronze medallists engaged with your business.

Candidate engagement is the practice of building relationships with candidates across every single touchpoint throughout the recruitment journey. This encompasses everything from employer branding through to application and assessment, job offer and onboarding. It also means keeping unsuccessful candidates engaged so that they may consider joining you in the future if the opportunity presents itself. In short, it’s every communication a person experiences while looking to get a job with a particular employer - and this starts before any application is made.

While many mistakenly consider candidate experience to be most important where permanent hires are concerned, it’s vital that businesses do not side-line contingent workforces. In many organisations, temporary workers play a crucial role in filling skills gaps and are rehired and redeployed time and again for future assignments. As such, keeping this pool of talented workers engaged and loyal to your brand is crucial.

By approaching candidate engagement in a better way, hiring managers can ensure that active and potential candidates are left with a favourable impression of their brand, which should last way beyond a single recruitment cycle.

3. Building and nurturing your EVP

The proposition you’re offering potential recruits matters now more than ever. However, internal hiring managers and talent management teams don’t have the advantage of an objective perspective when it comes to things like average pay rates and the benefits and perks that top talent want. Formulating a winning employer value proposition (EVP) should be within your MSP’s skillset.

Effectively communicating what new recruits can expect from your organisation, not only in terms of remuneration, but also how you are providing meaningful work and development opportunities, is key. The starting point for your EVP, is one simple question: “why should an in-demand candidate choose to work for us instead of the competition?”.

Most organisations feel they’re a great place to work, and it can be hard for leaders to set themselves out of their current world and get an accurate picture of what’s going on in the wider market. An MSP can draw on its extensive experience and market intelligence to have honest conversations about what will make you a more attractive employer to potential recruits.

For example, post-pandemic, flexibility is a key driver of applications. A recent survey by LinkedIn found that a massive 98% of professionals would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. The same report notes that almost all employers (94%) report that productivity is the same or higher than before the pandemic. It’s no surprise, then, that research from the UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team has identified that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applications than those which didn’t. What’s more, agile working also aids retention. A study by Stanford Graduate School of Business found that work flexibility can reduce resignations by 50%.

According to research by Gartner, organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can reduce the compensation premium by 50%, and reach 50% deeper into the labour market when candidates view an EVP as attractive.

In summary, by defining a clear, compelling and attractive EVP, a business can attract more highly skilled workers, without needing to break the bank to do so. The same Gartner study also reveals that organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual staff turnover by 69% and increase the commitment of new hires by almost 30%.

4. Making full use of data and analytics

Data and the ability to analyse and utilise it, are key to workforce programmes that are strategic and future focused. Data-driven hiring is not a new concept, but in recent years the quality and availability of workforce insight has improved exponentially. Recruitment data analytics are helping businesses drive informed decision-making to achieve superior outcomes when it comes to strategic workforce planning.

The best MSPs will have the ability to provide you with data about your workforce, your suppliers, and your spending. Most importantly, though, they’ll have the expertise and experience to consult with you about what it all means, and where you should go next with your strategic workforce planning strategy.

Data and analytics can be harnessed to identify where productivity is being lost and who you are missing in the marketplace. Here at Guidant Global, we’ve the advantage of being able to learn from data from each of our clients’ programmes, as well as insight into 100s of brands across the globe through our partnership with leading-edge talent analytics platform Brightfield’s Talent Data Exchange (TDX).

5. Harnessing the power of automation

Automation in recruitment is transforming workforce management. Automation can reduce time to hire by transforming inefficient manual processes, while also helping to eliminate human bias. Advanced machine learning technology also means that organisations can now more easily learn from the past to predict the future. However, few businesses have the tech in house to benefit from these advancements – or the people they need to make full use of their existing technology. Here’s where your MSP can add real value.


Advanced applicant tracking systems (ATS) can be used during the recruitment process to not only record and monitor the progress of potential recruits, but also – thanks to the power of artificial intelligence –complete the initial screening of applicants, manage communications, schedule interviews, and handle background checks – all in real time. And bespoke chatbots and video interviewing can help reduce thousands of applications to a few hundred without losing the human touch.


However, technology does have its limitations. The above study by Harvard Business School and Accenture finds a major reason that so many individuals are missing from the workforce is the near-ubiquitous use of automated hiring platforms, which systematically screen out large numbers of job seekers. These potential recruits might be great employees but, for one reason or another, they are automatically discounted from shortlists due to not meeting so-called ‘essential’ criteria in the job spec or even because of biases learned by machines. This is why automation technology should be handled with care by true experts.


A catalyst for effective strategic workforce planning


As the examples above details, a great MSP is perfectly placed to not only ensure that vacancies are continually filled with quality candidates – but also help actively shape your strategic workforce planning strategy.


Best-in-class technology and human intelligence must work together to shape an effective talent management strategy. No algorithm or data set, no matter how complete or advanced, will capture the entire complexity of work. To be truly game-changing, people throughout the business must use these platforms correctly and unpick and understand what the data is telling them. Make no mistake: in today’s tight labour market, the value-add services that an MSP offers are invaluable for organisations seeking to enhance their talent management strategies for the benefit of their businesses.