Michael Miles Reflects on the Model that Revolutionized the Industry, Company Culture & Achieving Innovation – Part 2
Welcome to the second blog in a two-part series celebrating Michael Miles, our Co-Founder and Chairman, as this year’s winner of the Staffing Industry Analysts’ Peter Yessne Staffing Innovator Award. I conducted the following interview with Michael shortly after he learned he would be this year’s Staffing Innovator. It seemed the perfect time to reflect on the company’s success as this recognition comes the month before The Seaton Companies 25th anniversary.
Q. How does innovation happen at Seaton?
A. For us, innovation starts with the concept of empathizing with our clients, putting ourselves in the client’s shoes. So, what does that mean? It really means taking a broad look at what they are trying to achieve, their goals, what stresses them and their pain points. We always try to start with what our client is trying to achieve and then work our way backwards to the solution as opposed to starting with the solution in mind. Our business development people and our account managers interact with our clients every day, they are in their building. We see the challenges that our clients face first hand, we become part of their team. We never invent a product and say they will come. We invent products because our clients tell us their issue and ask us to help fix it. In figuring out how to fix it we create our products. It’s a basic model of listening, learning and applying. It sounds so simple, and it is.
This recognition that we are receiving is about innovation but our story is really about execution. Innovation is actually not that difficult if you listen to your clients. It’s the execution that’s really, really hard. Our company has always had in its DNA a real appreciation for process and execution: for achieving operational excellence, building systems for scale and automating when others aren’t. Our approach has allowed us to out-execute our competitors.
Q. What are the key points of differentiation in the business model?
A. Well, the first important point of differentiation is the client-intimate model that I’ve described. The other key points of differentiation are centralization and software. We take transactionally intensive Human Resource functions and we centralize them and then we deploy proprietary technology to more effectively manage these processes. By centralizing all of the recruiting, hiring, scheduling, training and other employment-related transactions required for a flexible workforce, and by putting technology behind it, and organizing it, we bring a science to a historically intuitive process. This allows our business model to create a superior outcome. As we’ve grown the business, clients and prospective clients have requested us to provide a variety of services. We always come back to three questions: Will it be a client-intimate and strategic relationship? Does it require centralization? Does it require software? If the answer is yes to all three, we know we can perform more cost-effectively, more consistently, and better than anybody else.
Q. What does the future hold for Seaton?
A. We have always had an attitude of never being satisfied. We know we must continue to reinvent ourselves and the key to success with that is staying very close to our clients and understanding their issues and strategies. As we look to the future, there are endless opportunities for us to help our clients transform how they manage human capital in order to minimize risk, increase flexibility and spur business growth. Right now our clients are focused on the bottom line and effectively managing risks. They need help navigating through the massive change associated with the Affordable Care Act and they want to figure out how to close the skills gap so they have access to the right talent. We are responding with flexible staffing models to help optimize workforce mix and responsiveness, workforce and vendor management software to maximize efficiencies and fully outsourced workforce management and RPO programs to drive improved quality.