How to Measure and Improve Quality across Your Contingent Labor Program

This is the first in a 4-part series designed to help contingent program managers understand and implement analytics to support the QECR Performance Framework developed by Staffing Industry Analysts.

The QECR framework is designed to help define and measure the performance of contingent worker programs across four dimensions—quality, efficiency, cost, and risk. Using the framework, you can get a firm grasp on the current state of your contingent labor program and drive improvement toward future goals.

Let’s start with quality.

Quality is a top priority for many program managers—53% identify it as their highest concern and 73% rank worker quality as a top 3 consideration. Driven by a major shift in the US economy—the talent shortage—sourcing managers and suppliers are challenged to find quality candidates to fill their contract and contingent needs.

Put simply, to attract high-quality candidates, you need to run a high-quality program. And to run a high-quality program, you need to establish and track smart metrics from top to bottom.

Here are 4 areas you can start measuring to assess the quality of your contingent labor program and boost workforce performance and success.

1. Requisitions

Sourcing contingent labor starts with a requisition, so that’s where your quality measures should start as well. A good req gives your vendors—and their candidates—everything they need to determine who will best fit the role.

Here are 3 ways to measure and improve the quality of your requisitions:

  • Vendor inquiries – Frequent vendor questions indicate room for improvement in your requisitions to make candidate sourcing easier. If you’re not getting feedback, ask for it. Ask your vendors what information they need to fill roles properly and update your requisitions accordingly.
  • Job descriptions – If hiring managers are adjusting job descriptions, look for those with better quality candidate submittal rates versus negative rejections and disengagements. You may find a model for a great job description that can be applied across similar positions or managers hiring for the same roles.

Tip: It’s best to compare managers within the same department and region.

  • Skills sections – Review changes to skills sections and qualification summaries, especially in cases where managers continuously amend them. It may be time for a global update to ensure uniformity and quality across your requisitions.

Tip: If your analytics show a high proportion of underqualified talent, work with your managers to update minimum skill requirements.

CTA banner on closing the skills gap

2. Vendors

Not all vendors are created equal.

Distinguishing your top-performing vendors is an efficient way to give managers access to better contingent candidates. While many staffing agencies can provide suitable labor, your program analytics will dictate which vendors are the best fit within your organization.

Here are 3 ways to assess vendor quality:

  • Incoming talent quality – Most programs have a managed service provider (MSP) or internal recruiters that screen incoming talent during the procurement process. Based on their screening results, you can track trends across vendors to see which agencies submit top talent and which submit every resume under the sun.
  • Worker disengagement – Disengagement reasons are an effective measure of worker quality across vendors. While a few negative disengagements don’t necessarily signal an issue, a pattern of poor disengagements for a given vendor merits additional scrutiny. On the flip side, trends like contractor conversion rates and positive disengagement reasons can signal a high-quality talent supplier.

Tip: For workers with negative disengagements, set a “do not return” flag in your vendor management system (VMS). This will disallow them from submission for future roles and save other managers time, frustration, and money.

  • Vendor responsiveness – A good vendor interacts promptly with requisitions, communicates readily, and attends to your needs. Use data about the frequency and speed of responses to gauge how committed your vendors are to you as a client. Unresponsiveness may indicate that they’re not a full-service supplier or are selective about which requisitions they fill.

Tip: If vendors are selective, limit their access to requisitions or replace them with a vendor that puts higher emphasis on your account.

3. Engagements

The competition for quality talent is fierce, so it’s more important than ever to retain high-performing contractors. Use these key engagement analytics to determine top-quality workers to keep on file for re-engagement.

  • Engagement extensions – Frequent extensions are a sure sign of high-quality talent. Repeatedly requested candidates not only perform well, but are also acclimated to company culture. By continuing an engagement with existing talent, you save both selection and training time.
  • Worker evaluations – Manager evaluations of worker quality are absolutely essential and should be a routine process within your contingent labor program. (That’s why vendor management systems automatically trigger them.) Ensure your managers know how to provide meaningful feedback so you can compare workers across consistent measures and identify top performers.

Tip: Add top performers to a shortlist of workers to contact when new opportunities arise.

  • Cultural fit – As part of a disengagement, capture the manager’s willingness to rehire the worker. A worker may perform well but still not fit into the organization’s culture.

Tip: Mine feedback about successful engagements for insight into candidate characteristics that signal a good fit.

4. Managers

Even though they aren’t technically part of your contingent labor workforce, the managers to whom your contract and temporary workers report are the linchpin to your success.

By finding ways to assess manager quality—and then coaching underperforming managers—you can dramatically boost positive engagements and elevate the quality of your program as a whole.

But how can you identify managers who need coaching?

  • Time to fill – Time to fill is the number of days between issuing a requisition and engaging a worker (or the worker’s start date). Managers who take a long time to source talent may need help writing job descriptions and defining desired skills, or reminders to complete their steps in the approval process.

Tip: Establish guidelines for candidate review to prevent managers from becoming bottlenecks in the selection process.

  • Contingent worker performance – Across your program, which managers seem to excel at spotting top talent? And who falls short? Every manager has the occasional bad engagement, but with coaching you can help ensure they’re not repeatedly engaging poor candidates or inadvertently driving negative engagements through their management style.

Tip: Compare managers within departments or regions to isolate differences in selection and management practices.

Tip: Track trends and mine your analytics to determine the root causes of contingent turnover—for example, ineffective onboarding, poor manager interactions, lack of development opportunities, or compensation rates not up to market standards.

Launch your Quest for Program Quality

These measures will give you powerful levers to elevate your contingent labor program. By looking at metrics on your requisitions, vendors, engagements, and hiring managers, you can drive quality and gain access to the talented workers you need.

Sounds like a win to us!


Meet the Expert
Taylor Ramchandani – VP of Strategy

Taylor Ramchandani is responsible for the management and strategic planning of the VectorVMS vendor management system. Taylor is committed to client satisfaction and to ensuring VectorVMS technology meets the current and future needs of clients and managed service providers (MSPs). She uses market research and in-depth industry experience to create products and services that make extended workforce management efficient and intuitive. Taylor oversees product development, marketing, and business partnerships for VectorVMS and is responsible for driving innovation for contingent workforce management. Connect with her on LinkedIn.