Kelly Services and oDesk recently announced an “alliance,” combining a traditional staffing company with an online freelance market for the first time in industry history.
But wait; Kelly is a conservative organization, right? As careful as they are with compliance and regulations, how could they have linked up with the new kid on the block in a partnership?
It makes sense for two interconnected reasons:
That leaves me with one big question:
How will Kelly overcome increased risk in the online space to maintain their compliance commitment to their customers?
One possible solution is for oDesk to functionally become payrollers under Kelly.
As the government continues to zero in on misclassification, staffing companies AND online marketplaces will need to have open disclosure about how their workers are engaged. The Kelly partnership will encourage marketplaces to more carefully scrutinize their worker engagement practices.
That being said, I’m surprised that Kelly, which has historically been perceived as conservative, was the first actor on this trend. While MSPs and staffing companies are frequently conservative, it’s still curious that other staffing companies are seemingly yawning at the fledgling e-marketplace industry. Their clients are requiring broader and more direct access to talent; these companies will soon see that their clients’ hiring managers will demand access to the online future of work arrangements.
Perhaps it isn’t so surprising that some have been reluctant to jump on the bandwagon – this is part of a major evolution in the labor space. As more and more misclassification suits gain attention, the demand for compliant engagement will increase accordingly, especially in the US (but not limited to it). While there are still many countries that have open rules of engagement for freelance workers, major market countries like the US, France and Japan will continue to emphasize traditional employment.
A secondary part of this evolution begs the following question: what will Kelly’s day-to-day role be with customers that use the online marketplace? It could be that Kelly will initially act as an intermediary to screen candidates drawn from their online marketplace. In the beginning, their branch recruiters and MSP on-site personnel will likely be responsible for screening.
This is where the rubber meets the road: The entire industry is watching to see whether this evolution materializes into actual Contingent Workforce Programs.
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