Trends in Transformation: A Q&A with Rhona Driggs

Rhona Driggs

COO, Board of Directors, Empresaria Group plc

Rhona Driggs, COO, a member of the Board of Directors at Empresaria Group plc, has spent her 26 years in the industry building a sustainable client delivery model for long-term workforce management and staffing solutions with many of the world’s most highly respected companies.


Whenever possible, the RIX team checks in with Rhona Driggs, president of Volt Consulting Group and executive Vice President of Volt Workforce Solutions, to get her take on current industry trends. With more than 25 years in the industry and as a prominent advocate for women in staffing, Rhona brings a unique perspective that promotes both reflection and action on issues impacting recruitment leaders. Here, she shares what’s on her near-term radar, from #MeToo to MSP market shifts.


RIX: To get us started, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think the most powerful trend to shape staffing in 2018 will be.

Rhona Driggs: One thing that will absolutely shape the industry this year is the collective #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. It truly has the potential to shift power dynamics and level the playing field regardless of gender, which is vital to increasing productivity. I’ve been thinking a lot about the responsibility of recruiters in this environment and how we have an obligation to influence the world of work.


RIX: As the leader of a global firm, how are you proactively addressing this topic at Volt?

RD: We’re fully committed to having real, open, and engaging conversations—both internally and with our clients. With more than 700 people reporting up to me, I’m expected to be a leader of change and that starts with creating awareness and ensuring it’s not a “hush hush” or taboo topic. I’m not just talking about putting the burden on employees to disclose if they don’t feel they are being treated fairly in terms of compensation or working environment, but about making it an institutional priority to listen and respond with integrity.


RIX: Let’s turn our attention to MSP and talent management trends. Eighteen months ago, your role expanded to lead Volt Consulting Group in addition to the Workforce Solutions business. How has this changed your point of view?

RD: I’ve reinforced the fact that spend management, risk analysis, and compliance are table stakes in MSP. Speaking for the industry, most MSP providers are already really good at providing those things. Where we need to improve overall is understanding the talent acquisition landscape and addressing our clients’ pain. If our clients aren’t getting best in class talent, we’ll lose out. That means we need to get strategic and come forward with different talent vehicles that deliver the best of the best, including statement of work [SOW] projects, independent professionals, and freelancers. Total talent management is disruptive but it’s exciting.


RIX: To that end, what sort of reception are you getting from your own clients about incorporating these different vehicles into their talent supply chains?

RD: It’s mixed. Our bigger clients, the Fortune 100 companies, are a bit leery about it. Smaller companies who are willing to look at creative alternatives are finding it more palatable to adapt to a hybrid talent acquisition model.


RIX: Now that more clients are buying these services at scale, what are the biggest threats to the MSP delivery model?

RD: The biggest threat I see is there’s a very big trend in clients self-managing their programs. Of course, that’s only a threat if you’re just getting by with the basics. If you’re bringing in amazing talent, the threat of a client taking their program in-house is almost nonexistent. Clients may be able to manage the logistics, but being a subject matter expert in talent acquisition is not a core competency that most our clients have or even want to have.

Now, it’s not about getting the lowest price provider, it’s about getting the best talent. That’s why MSP providers shouldn’t just be managing to SLAs, they need to think about the different talent pools they can leverage to get the best talent. That’s why you’re seeing some VMS providers selling standalone SOW services and MSP providers integrating more closely with staffing operations.


RIX: Looking at the flip side, what’s one play you could run to improve your business this year?

RD: As I hinted, the big play for us—and for all MSPs—is to start leveraging our MSP relationships more into our staffing divisions. MSP used to be all about vendor neutrality and keeping a wall between MSP and staffing. But if the value to clients is providing the best talent, why not leverage what’s in our control? It provides a different lens on how we work collaboratively in the best interest of the clients, by being focused on revenue protection and not just revenue capture. If we’re not taking care of our staffing accounts, what’s to prevent our clients from going to another MSP when a competitor knocks on the door?


RIX: Are you noticing global differences in that line of thinking?

RD: I see Europe following right on the heels on the U.S. trend to move away from the “level playing field” concept. We’ve moved from where vendor neutral is a must to where total talent management is a must, which enables hybrid delivery and more innovative approaches. It’s fascinating to watch the evolution.


RIX: As always, thanks for sharing your insights with the Recruitment Innovation Exchange, Rhona!