“There has got to be a better way.” How many times has this thought crossed the minds of Special Education Directors, Superintendents and other school administrators? In addition to developing and administering programs, managing staff and consulting with parents, they’re also trying to recruit and hire new special education professionals, often at a moment’s notice. Working with multiple staffing agencies takes time away from what really matters – providing students with quality care and education – and let’s be honest, forcing already overworked educators to do yet another job.
The good news is, they are right. There is a better way. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) will ease their workload and let someone else take on the burden of managing their temporary staffing program. Instead of multiple agency vendors, multiple bill rates and dozens of phone calls and emails, school administrators can now reach all their vendors through one contact, putting time back in their day and dollars back on their bottom line.
What is an MSP?
An MSP (Managed Service Provider) is a firm that steps in and manages their client’s staffing program from recruitment to payment. They stay on top of ever-changing labor regulations, credentialing and provide consolidated invoicing to free their clients up so they can focus on other tasks, saving them time and money.
MSPs emerged to fill a need for large corporations with staffing programs consisting of thousands of temporary workers and hundreds of staffing vendors. Originally utilized in manufacturing, MSPs began to move into the healthcare industry a decade ago and hospital systems noticed immediate improvements in scheduling efficiencies and less billing discrepancies causing the service to seep into other facets of healthcare staffing. Today, schools across the county are utilizing this service to ease the load of overworked administrative staff.
One challenge all employers face regardless of their industry is the ability to locate professionals with the specific skillset and credentials they require. Unemployment in the US is the lowest it’s been since 20001, with more specialized positions such as school professionals at an even lower rate. Hiring managers and talent acquisition firms alike are rushing to come up with new ways to recruit and entice qualified professionals into their positions. MSPs benefit from a vast network of providers. While their clients still only make one phone call, they now have the power of ten or more firms working hard to find the right fit and fill the position.
The Old Way
On any given day, a Special Education Director may have multiple and varying open positions to fill throughout the district, potentially 100s to 1000s of individualized education programs (IEPs) to oversee, a number of homebound students to supervise and a pile of reports to file. Perhaps, they find out two employees are taking maternity leave soon and two more will resign at the end of the school year.
To overcome these obstacles, the Special Education Director must now have to make numerous phone calls, salespeople and interviews that may or may not result in finding someone who fits their needs and represents their school’s mission and vision.
If they do eventually find the right fit, they are now flooded with additional monthly time sheets and invoices that get passed on to the accounting team and the never-ending parade of paperwork continues.
MSPs and a Better Way
Educators should be educators. Not secretaries, not business managers, not accountants and certainly not staffing experts.
While educators focus on the education of our youth, MSPs focus on the business side of things. Multiple openings? Make one phone call. Staff going out on maternity leave and getting reassigned? Make one phone call. The MSP will utilize the list of the school’s approved vendors to fill those openings. In addition, the MSP will manage those invoices and process the billing.
Benefits of an MSP
Single point of contact.
School district managers liaise with one account manager. That account manager maintains relationships with multiple staffing agencies to ensure every open position gets attention. After sourcing, screening and verifying credentials, they present the school district contact with a list of qualified candidates. Once the school district selects their top choices, the account manager arranges interviews.
Fill vacancies faster.
Because MSPs partner with multiple staffing vendors, they can distribute job openings to a wide network almost immediately. Your MSP account manager can leverage that network to present a stronger list of candidates than what a single vendor can provide. Considering today’s low unemployment rate—2.3% for education and health services in November 2019—quick access to top talent is key.
MSPs conduct background checks and call references. They also ensure you stay compliant with employment and labor regulations and worker credentialing. This not only saves the school district from hiring the wrong contractor, it ensures all workers are properly classified and credentialed.
Say goodbye to managing timesheets and invoices from multiple vendors. MSPs provide a centralized billing process with customized rates. Managing contractors on one invoice helps you control vendor costs as well as frees up your accounting department’s time.
Because the MSP oversees your staffing vendors, the only contract you negotiate is with the MSP. Less back and forth means an all-around more simplified workflow. With one set of terms to review, you and your supervisors can spend less time in email and more time with parents and students.
What to Look for in an MSP
Transparency is important in all aspects of the customer-vendor relationship. Your chosen MSP should be forthcoming in discussing its screening, billing and other processes. They should also be willing to talk fees. More often than not, an MSP will not charge your school district for its services, but it may assess fees against its vendors. Choose an MSP that operates with integrity and transparency.
When considering an MSP, partnering with one that has experience in your industry is a plus. In an industry such as education that is highly regulated, a partner who knows state-by-state requirements and guidelines will prevent delays in service.
Finding and keeping top talent hinges on relationships. Just like you want to develop positive relationships with your staff, you want an MSP that values its relationship with you. Does your account manager listen to and understand your challenges?
When you’re hiring specialized healthcare professionals to work in an educational environment, you want an MSP with access to the appropriate talent pool. Look for an MSP with experience in both healthcare and education
Assess your staffing needs now, six months from now and beyond. Does the MSP have the connections and the experience to meet both your current and future needs? If your school district is growing, can the MSP grow with you?
Consider the scope of your staffing needs. If you hire independent contractors, temporary, and temp-to-perm candidates, make sure your MSP can provide all three. Also, consider the scope. Know how many contingent workers you need as well as the cost and make sure the MSP has the ability to provide.
The ‘Real’ Cost
Most traditional MSPs today operate on a vendor-funded model. That means the MSP takes a percentage from vendor invoices to cover costs associated with sourcing, selecting and onboarding and managing talent. While this may seem fair on the surface, digging a little deeper into what this type of model actually means paints a different picture. Now the agencies trying to find the most qualified special education professionals must somehow work this fee into the rate they charge the school or how much they pay the professionals.
A fee-based model will put constraints on an already scarce candidate market.
Schools run the risk of contractors not wanting to work for them because their employers are being charged. And if you have less-than-qualified people working in your school district, your students aren’t getting the best care.
Why is BlazerWorks Different?
BlazerWorks believes that solutions shouldn’t be headaches in disguise and offers a 100% free MSP service to educational facilities. BlazerWorks partners with some of the top staffing firms in the country to find unique and compassionate special education professionals for their clients. If within a pre-agreed upon time frame those partners have been unsuccessful, BlazerWorks will utilize a list of pre-approved vendors and engage with them to secure the professional who is the best fit for their client’s schools and students.
Do they want to fill all their client’s positions with their preferred partners? Yes. Yes, they do. But if they can’t, they’ll move on without a moment’s hesitation, because they’ve made a commitment and they intend to keep it. Since this service is free for everyone, the pre-approved vendors are happy to continue working with BlazerWorks, ensuring continuity of service for your students and current staff. If that isn’t a win-win, we don’t know what is!
What are you waiting for?
Are you ready to save time and money? Are you ready to work with a firm that is as committed to the success of your students as you are?
Contact BlazerWorks today and get ready for a better tomorrow.