Apex Systems is a scientific, technology, and engineering staffing and services firm with a presence in over 70 staffing markets across North America. Since their founding in 1995, they’ve been committed to their relationship-centric approach to their placed talent—including their “three Cs”: client managers, candidates, and consultants.

ClearlyRated’s partnership with this award-winning staffing firm began in 2011, when they decided to use Net Promoter® Score (NPS®) surveys in order to better understand their placed talent’s experience and execute on their company goal to “do the right thing.”

Click here to learn more about NPS in the staffing industry >>

As Apex has evolved from the tenth-largest IT staffing firm in the U.S. to the second largest, ClearlyRated’s partnership has evolved along with them, growing from that initial annual survey (2011); to a monthly, touchpoint-based Talent Engagement process (2015); to an ongoing, daily survey program (2020).   

In March, we reached out to Erica Woods, Apex’s Director of Contractor Programs & Philanthropy, to learn more about how Apex has centered the voice of their placed talent in their organization and what advice she might have for other staffing firms hoping to do the same.

Phase One: Apex Begins Annual Client Surveys (2011)

When Apex began surveying with ClearlyRated back in 2011, the staffing firm’s initial intention was to learn how they could improve the service they provide to clients and talent.

Apex was founded on the premise that it was possible to create a good experience for both clients and placed talent, and that doing so would attract and retain the best people in the field. According to Erica, Apex saw ClearlyRated’s NPS surveys as an opportunity to ensure they were meeting their own expectations.

She told us, “We want to build a culture that honors the service standards that Apex was founded on. By monitoring and acting on the feedback we receive through ClearlyRated’s NPS surveys, we’re ensuring that we stay focused on our values as we continue to grow.”

Phase Two: Apex Invests in a Talent Engagement Program (2015)

Apex’s annual survey program continued with great success, and as an organization, Apex began to see an opportunity to further leverage these insights with the consultants they were placing in the field.

In 2015, Erica and her team piloted a Talent Engagement program. This approach to soliciting feedback empowered Apex to survey their consultants (placed talent) at three critical touchpoints: during onboarding, mid-assignment, and at the end of assignment.

The pilot program quickly demonstrated the power of real-time feedback, offering more clarity about their team’s performance across the consultant journey, more positive feedback from consultants to recruiters in the form of “Shout Outs,” and more powerful testimonials and online ratings to credibly support Apex’s reputation as a firm that cares deeply about the candidates they place.

After the pilot’s conclusion, Apex expanded the Talent Engagement program, operationalizing it as part of their Consultant Relationship Building Process (CRBP). This system is a proprietary blend of ClearlyRated’s implementation support, feedback from placed talent, and Apex’s internal resources and best practices, with operationalized touchpoints at every step of the journey, from candidate to consultant to completion.

The CRBP also includes a Detractor Protocol, which helps Apex’s individual locations respond consistently to negative feedback across their 70 locations in a way that is most likely to address underlying issues, rebuild trust with consultants, and improve the location’s NPS from placed talent.

In fact, one of the most tangible benefits of implementing a Talent Engagement program is an increase in NPS—on average, staffing firms see a 28% increase the first year.

For Apex, the combination of their internal CRBP and ClearlyRated’s Talent Engagement program has resulted in award-winning levels of service, which netted Apex Best of Staffing for Talent Satisfaction in 2017 and every year since.

And because ClearlyRated’s survey technology is able to pinpoint Promoters and ask them to provide additional feedback, we’ve been able to help Apex credibly prove the world-class service they provide to placed talent. During our conversation, Erica mentioned that the Talent Engagement survey process has resulted in hundreds of positive reviews and testimonials in the online spaces that matter most.

Phase Three: Integrating ClearlyRated with Bullhorn ATS (2020)

Erica and her team integrated their survey process into Bullhorn, their ATS, in early 2020, allowing Apex to automate deployment and target their survey delivery based on individual timelines.

This integration allows firms that utilize Bullhorn to automate survey deployment from their ATS based on ongoing, individualized touch points for their placed talent. Additionally, Bullhorn users can pull survey feedback directly into the ATS environment by activating the ClearlyRated within a contact record.

Learn more about the benefits of the Bullhorn integration here >>

One of the primary benefits of the newly integrated survey program for Apex is how much easier it is for Erica and her team to operationalize feedback from their placed talent.

When Apex surveyed talent annually, they fielded more than 3,000 survey respondents at a time. Implementing a Talent Engagement program helped, but Apex Recruiting Leadership was still fielding hundreds of responses in a single day.

Now, with the integration enabled between Bullhorn and ClearlyRated, Apex is sending surveys on a daily basis, with deployment triggered by critical touchpoints in their consultants’ journeys. This real-time survey cadence means that feedback from consultants is being fielded, and addressed, real-time on a rolling basis.

Erica explained, “The best thing about integration is that you’re actually able to do the feedback you receive justice. Dispersing the survey responses with the Bullhorn Integration means you can give each response the attention it deserves.”

As an additional benefit, Apex has seen a 5% increase in NPS from their consultants since integrating their Talent Engagement survey program with Bullhorn.

Erica credits the automated, real-time nature of their integrated survey program with this lift. The ability to automatically deploy a survey to consultants at the most critical moments in their journey has created real value for Apex’s Talent Engagement program.

Integration also simplifies the behind-the-scenes work necessary to implement an ongoing Talent Engagement survey cadence. Instead of having to manually pull lists in order to survey critical touch points, the integration automates the process, sourcing the data and delivering it to the appropriate channels for survey deployment.

Apex’s Advice for Implementing an Ongoing Talent Survey Initiative

We’ve been proud to help Apex Systems live up to their core values, center their most important relationships, and build their online reputation through our NPS Talent Engagement survey program. But one of the most incredible things we’ve witnessed is how Erica has used our tools and resources to operationalize the process and allow Apex to embrace NPS as a daily tool.

As Lauren Petersen, our Director of Client Services, told us, “Erica has done an AMAZING job of integrating NPS into the Apex culture. And she has really been my sole key contact for the project. We often get feedback that clients don’t think they have the bandwidth to implement a project like this—but she is a testament to how one person can take this information and run with it!”

Here are a few key recommendations that Erica shared:

  • Make sure there is a committed employee that owns the survey process and results. Whether that person is analyzing the sentiments uncovered in the survey, advocating for change based on results, or operationalizing the process (or all three!) it’s critical to make sure that someone is responsible for moving the project forward.
  • Organize feedback in a way that matches the priorities of the organization. Erica has synced survey feedback with business rhythms to ensure that results get the attention they deserve. From the CRBP itself to a monthly report card, periodic calls with leadership especially for low performers, and ongoing NPS driver coaching for leadership, there are a variety of channels where this information gets shared.
  • Do as much (or more) with the positive feedback that’s received. By highlighting peak performers at all-hands meetings, on recognition boards, and through their social media channels, Apex is able to create clear links between their highest performers’ impact and their company’s core values.

Taken as a whole, Erica’s internal NPS infrastructure makes it possible for Apex to uphold their commitment to their placed talent and their original vision for their company—and do everything within their power to continue to grow.

We can’t wait to see what they do next!

Interested in Implementing an Ongoing Talent Engagement Survey?