In 2018, the Crown Commercial Service, an executive body and trade organization within the UK government’s Cabinet Office, engaged managed service provider Alexander Mann Solutions to manage its $1.4 billion contingent workforce program. The result was the creation of the Public Sector Resourcing marketplace, which connects contingents to government work. The program serves 90 customer organizations across the government, engaging 12,000 workers through 350+ staffing providers and many alternative routes to talent. The idea was to take the mystery out of recruitment for the contingent and make it a transparent, digital process.
At the 2019 CWS Summit Europe, held March 26-27 in London, Alexander Mann’s Matthew Rodger and Crown’s Maggie Tonge discussed the program’s development. Contingent Workforce Strategies 3.0 features an excerpt from that conference session transcription, edited for clarity and brevity. In the June 5 issue, Tonge and Rodger discussed the complexities of developing such a vast program. Last week, they discussed the mechanics of the complex marketplace. The series concludes with the discussion the brand, the rewarding nature of government work and the approach to launch.
Maggie Tonge: The brand — PSR, Public Sector Resourcing — was something that we identified as part of our market engagements. We started to call that project way back with the early market engagement with departments and suppliers. And we worked with industry bodies as well.
So we had the brand out in the marketplace, but it hadn’t really come to life as a living, breathing thing. I think it was like more of a project name. So, we’re excited to see it morph into now something that’s going to be more attractive and stickier to help us drive the right outcomes.
Matthew Rodger: In the background, our employer branding folks conducted a huge amount of research, talking to public servants, contractors and temporary workers who worked in the public sector as well as those who worked in the private sector. A number of themes came through very strongly in that research. One was that [public-sector] work was highly rewarding, that people really enjoyed performing the work that they were on assignment doing.
And probably the most important thing we learned was that people felt they were engaging in something that was for the greater good, something that was making a contribution on a social level much more than any private-sector environment could generate.
We also considered how we wanted PSR not just to look, but also to feel. And during our research, these folks told us they wanted it to be open and easy to engage with. They wanted it to be friendly, upbeat and informative.
Finally, they said they expected clean and fast communication. They didn’t want jargon. They just wanted clear, concise, quick communication to explain what was going on.
The Talent Narrative. So, we set about creating a very colorful narrative. In this iteration of the PSR brand, every color represents a different set of opportunities. So, when folks come to the marketplace, it’s fairly easy for them to visually identify with where they want to go, and what that particular color stands for.
Then we thought about the purpose and the call to action. And what we came up with was, “Be part of something bigger, go public today.” That was our thinking behind doing something for the greater good, contributing something to society, or doing something that was much bigger than just the job itself.
One of the things that we’ve been bringing out on the website is that the compelling reason for software engineers to step forward is to work in the universal credit program, the single biggest digital transformation that’s going on in the UK right now.
There’s a whole range of beneficial programs and exciting opportunities within those programs where someone can make a difference.
Tonge: It’s exciting to work in the public sector. This is why we need to get out there.
How the PSR program works
Rodger: Essentially, we’ve got two different types of managers: reactive and proactive. The reactive manager is typical in contingent labor, where I have a need, I have that need right now, and it’s got to be satisfied today. And it’s easy for them to log into [the VMS] to create their job requisition, which is exported directly to the marketplace. Typically, that attracts a very active candidate who’s looking for a job right now.
They’ve probably landed in Google, then found PSR through searching. They see a job, they apply and, essentially, they get instantaneous feedback each step in that application process.
And then there’s the other type of manager, the proactive one, who is slightly more thoughtful, who’s got an eye for the future in terms of what may be coming down the pipe in their program. They are thinking: “I might have a need at some point in the future.” And what they’re saying is, “Help me plan, help me think about this and help me to build a talent pool.” Typically, the types of candidates who would be interested in these types of opportunities are the more passive candidates.
So, we have features and functions within the environment that allow the talent to come and browse, to create an account, to create a profile, to upload their resume, to set their preferences. And then, we can curate those talent pools behind the scenes and engage with those candidates when it’s appropriate to do so, when that particular line manager’s requirements come to fruition.
Tonge: For me, as a client, that helps me get access to what’s going on for skills in the marketplace day to day . But it’s also what are we building, and in what locations and in what skills sets and what provisions. So, this is really helpful data to feed back into the strategic workforce plan and network that exists across civil service. It also helps to know where we’ve got hotspots or just nothing much happening in certain locations as well. So, we’ll want to utilize this data in a more active way when it starts to come through.
Rodger: This phase launched in March, and we’re in soft launch [at the time of the presentation]. We’ve launched a range of functions and features that we were just describing. Things like job posting, job search, Google Adwords to direct people to where they’re going. Very shortly, there’ll be programmatic advertising.
We soft-launched with 25 requirements. We’ve got 75 applications. We’ve got 200 folks registered. And we’ve made a start. We’ve got some plans for the future. In 18 months’ time, we’ll have video, real-world stories of public servants describing what it means to them to make a contribution for the greater good. So, a much more thoughtful, sensitive, meaningful, engaging narrative for folks that really want to understand what it means to come and perform an assignment for government.
Tonge: What ticks the boxes for me, of course, is the direct engagement with UK government work. We’re also going to be getting better analytics, more qualitative analytics that’s going to help us with our workforce planning, insight and support for departments, which is extremely important for them. Of course, this could be significant cost savings for all you tax payers in the room. So, being able to swap and change the routes to talent ratio that we’ve had in government.