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Kforce taps the gig economy as one way to stand out in the staffing industry

Margie Manning

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Andrew Thomas, chief marketing officer, Kforce

Tampa staffing firm Kforce Inc. got more than 1,200 job referrals in the first few weeks after it launched an app-based referral program that lets users refer their contacts to job openings.

The program, KFORCEconnect, is one of several ways that Andrew Thomas, chief marketing officer, is using technology to help Kforce differentiate itself in the rapidly changing staffing industry.

Since Thomas assumed responsibility for marketing in 2017, Kforce (Nasdaq: KFRC) has refreshed its brand, grown its social media presence and won national awards. On June 11, he will receive a Silver Stevie award for Marketing Executive of the Year at the American Business Awards.

It’s a shift for Kforce, a $1.4 billion firm which provides professional staffing services to clients in technology, and finance and accounting. The company hadn’t had a chief marketing officer in about 10 years, although other people in the company were handling many of the marketing functions.

As CMO, Thomas is now responsible for communications, digital strategy, proposal services, sales enablement, and training and development.

While those are outward-facing activities, Thomas said his work starts internally, making sure everyone is on the same page with the company’s mission and values.

“There are wonderful things happening here and we want to communicate to people what those things are,” Thomas said. “Historically staffing firms were a feet-on-the-street effort with a lot of face-to-face visits with both client customers and job candidates. Those things still happen and we’re doing them constantly, but the idea is to really communicate with people as they are making their decision and where they are making their decisions. That comes in all different settings and using different technologies.”

Brand ambassadors

KFORCEconnect is one example of how the company is tapping technology to broaden its reach.

The company partnered with WorkLlama, an Atlanta-based company with a talent acquisition and workforce management platform, to launch the app-based referral program. The app allows users to easily refer their contacts to open positions and get paid up to $1,000 for successful hires.

“What it does is create a pure differentiator for us. It’s an app-based referral program. To our knowledge, this empowers us to be the only staffing firm, the only one of our kind that has this referral-based app that works externally,” Thomas said.

With the KFORCEconnect app, referrals are not limited to Kforce recruiters.

“We are in the gig economy and it can be a remarkable side gig for people who have very strong networks and are looking to earn another income or just the pure fun or it,” Thomas said.

He’s also focused on “shareable content,” tapping the knowledge of Kforce employees who are subject matter experts.

“We like to empower our people as brand ambassadors. Our people develop great content and they share that content with their network. It’s advertising that benefits people. People can learn from the advertising we are providing,” Thomas said.

The “shareable content” strategy led to a 496 percent increase in engagement on LinkedIn, according to a news release.

Community outreach

Thomas has worked at Kforce since 1997. He previously was executive director of the company’s finance and accounting product offering, where he oversaw strategy, operating model and critical activities.

As CMO, Thomas’ goal is for Kforce to earn the best recognition and top reputation in its peer group. Since the effort began, Kforce has been ranked as having the top brand recognition with IT consultants per Staffing Industry Analysts, a global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions.

In addition, Net Promoter Score increases have earned the firm repeat Best of Staffing awards and an increased Glassdoor rating by 43 percent.

“When you look at things like Net Promoter and Glassdoor, there are these wonderful tools that aid people in their decision-making,” Thomas said. “The voice of the customer is easier to respond to and to incorporate into decision-making and allow you to navigate and make the changes that are in line with your core values but also in the client’s best interest, whether the client is the job candidate or the client company. That level of transparency gives people more data at their fingertips to make better decisions, so reputation becomes extremely important.”

Kforce also has a renewed focused on corporate social responsibility.

“We’re looking at how we can create more impact on society, above and beyond our core competency,” Thomas said.

In March, the company opened its doors to the community, hosting a STEM fair for school children from throughout the Tampa Bay area, in keeping with its focus on “empowering people through knowledge-sharing.” At the end of the third quarter, the company plans a national day of giving, with workers at all of its offices nationwide participating. A sustainability initiative also is in the works.

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