What does strategic leadership mean to you?
John – Strategic leadership to me means fostering the personal and professional development of the team with whom I am working, while, at the same time, maintaining a focus on realizing the long-term goals of the organization to which we all belong.
Ruth – My idea of strategic leadership means never settling for what has been done before, but always looking at what has worked in the past and what has not; it means understanding the challenges and successes that we have had and using those experiences to help us grow as an organization, and to help grow in the services that we offer to our clients.
What are the operational challenges that you most frequently encounter?
Ruth – The nationwide aspect of our operations can be challenging. We have to know the regulations for every state in which we operate, the health-care requirements, the pay differential between exempt and non-exempt employees, the holiday allotments; and of course there are a vast number of municipality regulations. And if that wasn’t enough, they are always changing. We like to be able to take that regulatory burden off our clients so they can focus on growing their business.
John – I think the biggest challenge in operations is the constant change in regulations as they relate to human capital solutions; whether they be new compliance forms or tax forms, minimum wage requirements, the laws associated with interviewing practices or candidate selection practices. We are going through a constant cycle and if we are not on top of it, it can produce long-term problems for us and our clients. So that is something that we are keenly focused on. Another challenge we have found is that from a recruitment standpoint. You have to have an intimate knowledge of what works and what does not in each of the geographies in which you are recruiting. We might use a different platform or a combination of different strategies to support our recruitment efforts in California, for example, as opposed to Pennsylvania. Understanding these nuances help us maintain our success rates when working with individual clients.
Can you give me an example of a customized delivery process that has been used for a recent client?
Ruth – Every service delivery that we provide is highly customized. One of the significant benefits of working with Headway is that we can make the process work in whatever form our client needs. When a client asks me about our operational processes, about our interviewing and hiring practices, and who is responsible for what, I respond by saying: “That is up to you, we need to figure it out together because we need to be an extension of your HR team. We want to make the process seamlessly integrated with your own operations.” For some clients, we do the interviewing and hiring and for others we might hire back-ups and attend job fairs. Truly, every service we provide is tailored to what the specific project or client needs.
How do we source our proprietary database of candidates? What processes do we have in place to vet them?
Ruth – We source frequently and often. Our first go-to for every project we recruit for is our proprietary database of over two million candidates. All of these individuals are searchable by geography, keyword, as well as previous experience. We can also search for candidates with certain profile characteristics or linguistic skills, for example. Every time we consider a candidate, they go through the vetting process again; we want to make sure that our clients have all the necessary up-to-date information they need to make the best hiring decision and that they can feel confident that they are getting the highest quality candidate. It also allows us to ensure that each candidate has the appropriate certifications and is assessed according to the client or project specifications outlined at the project launch. Our database is also expanding on a daily basis, so it is an incredibly effective source for locating high-quality, experienced candidates in specific geographies really quickly.
What are the benefits of CORE?
John – The real benefits of CORE lie in the customization and consistency of our processes. Over the years we have accumulated a significant amount of knowledge, of awareness, while working with similar clients. It is this deep understanding of the industries that we support that allow us to customize responsive solutions that can provide a consistent delivery model across all fifty states and Puerto Rico. This is a significant advantage over many of our competitors who don’t have this capability, who require their clients to communicate with multiple points of contact across regional geographies. At Headway, we have one dedicated account manager supported by a customized, responsive process that can be implemented nationwide.
What are the benefits of having dedicated account managers?
John – A dedicated account manager allows the client and Headway to have a relationship that is built and can be fostered and measured over time. With one individual dedicated solely to the needs of that one client, we are able to learn the nuances of a client’s operation. It is also great from a customization standpoint, because we are able to adjust our processes on the fly to meet the evolving needs of our clients. We can do this because our dedicated account manager has a detailed understanding of not only the client’s operations but also their needs, priorities and particular challenges. We are really proud of the successes of this program, and that many of our clients have multi-year service delivery contracts; they stay with us because they see our processes working so effectively for them. In fact, our top ten customers have an average tenure with Headway of almost 20 years.
Ruth – I think the other element which is important here is that we also think very carefully about which dedicated account manager we pair up with which client. For example, we make sure to provide managers that are extremely detail-orientated to clients that need that kind of support. Some clients work best with managers that are innovative and can improve their processes. It is a strategic decision of pairing the needs of our clients with the skillset of our managers. It also means that every client has one person that they can call at any given time with any question they might have; as opposed to calling an 800 number and not knowing who is going to answer the phone. We don’t want that here. We want our clients to get exactly the help they want at the time that they need it. This also allows for an efficient communication channel, so that if there are any issues we can begin addressing them immediately before they become a problem for our client.
What differentiates us from our competitors?
John – Headway is a privately-held small business, which means there is, essentially, a lack of red tape as relates to customization options. If Client X wants to make a change to their time and expense entry system, we don’t have a standard process that we have to follow. We have processes that we follow internally, but it can be a matter of walking down the hall to our program developer, having them work on it, test it, and release the revised product to our client within a matter of hours. Sometimes tech companies take weeks or months to release new products or make changes to existing ones. Our size and setup enables us to provide a rapid and customized response to our client’s needs as they arise.
How are you using technology to increase efficiencies and streamline processes and what advances do you see on the horizon that might be of benefit to operations?
John – Everything that we do is based on being cost-conscious, and not only just to manage our internal costs, but our ability to share those cost-savings with our customers. Our video-interviewing process, for example, allows us to effectively recruit from across all fifty states in a cost-effective manner. The improvement of video technology over the past few years has allowed us to reduce the hiring costs for our clients. Instead of having to travel across the country to find a best-fit candidate, we use recruiting robots and sourcing tools that work behind the scenes to reach out to candidates to gauge their interest in open job opportunities. This helps drive efficiencies and reduce costs when there are large volume requisitions to support.
Ruth – We have also found that online job fairs have been a great source for us insofar as recruiting goes. These are relatively new to the recruitment scene and enable us to get in front of thousands of candidates at one time, instead of just one. This allows us to make rapid contract with a large number of job-seekers, which in turn vastly extends our reach on behalf of our clients.