Last week, the MBO Partners team traveled to Dallas, TX for two Staffing Industry Analysts events: the Contingent Workforce Strategies (CWS) Summit and the Collaboration in the Gig Economy conference. We were excited for the opportunity to both host and participate in conference sessions on a variety of topics, and appreciated every moment of connecting with new and familiar faces alike. In the spirit of our mission to lead the latest thinking and research on the contingent workforce, our Chief Customer Officer Linda Mann moderated a conversation about a new way of thinking beyond simply direct sourcing, and our CEO, Gene Zaino, shared his own thinking alongside other panelists on how legal policies need to catch up to the current model of employment to accelerate work flexibility in the decades ahead.
Energy and enthusiasm at the conference for the future of the independent workforce and its power to positively impact business was apparent. Our team enjoyed discussing contingent workforce program enhancements with existing clients—including representatives from PwC, Deloitte, and KPMG—, hosting roundtables on how to justify and prioritize a compliance program for contingent workers, and attending informative sessions. Below is a recap of the three key themes we took away from the week’s events.
1. Enterprises are Relying on Independent Talent More Than Ever Before
One crystal clear message shone through the four days of conference sessions: it’s all about the talent—managers want on-demand access to highly-skilled professionals they can engage for work that has strategic value. But finding the right people in today’s candidate-driven market, along with a low unemployment rate and skills gap, is challenging.
That’s why we are seeing increasingly more enterprises designing direct sourcing programs for their managers to connect with independent professionals. With direct sourcing, businesses can self-source independent talent using their own internal resources, such as technology and enterprise managers, rather than relying on a third-party intermediary, which reduces their time-to-fill and avoids costly staffing markups. While managers have been turning to online talent marketplaces to fill project-specific roles for some time now, more enterprises than ever are starting to buy-in.
However, direct sourcing is only a small part of the picture. Talent marketplaces and one-off direct sourcing solutions often don’t meet an enterprise-level of compliance on their own, so they aren’t an inclusive solution for more strategic projects.
2. Direct Sourcing Is Not Enough to Create a Successful Contingent Workforce Management Program
To successfully empower their organization to leverage the contingent workforce, successful program leaders are combining a positive experience for both their managers and the talent that is straightforward and intuitive, with the rigor and security of enterprise-grade compliance. An enterprise-grade direct access program refers to the entire lifecycle of working with independent professionals, from finding, sourcing, and engaging talent to paying, managing, and re-engaging them. Direct sourcing, on the other hand, only encompasses the first part of this lifecycle: finding and sourcing independent talent.
When businesses rely on staffing companies alone to connect managers with talent, they gain structured procedures, some level of compliance, and a pool of talent, but they miss out on a positive experience for managers and talent. On the other end of the spectrum, when businesses rely solely on online marketplaces—the do-it-yourself direct sourcing approach—they gain access to skilled independent talent, ease of use, and personalized support, but lack compliance and payment integration with their enterprise systems.
It is only with an enterprise-grade direct access program that companies gain the full range of benefits from defined policies and procedures, access to highly-skilled independent talent, and simplicity of use, to the security of fulfilling compliance requirements, system integrations and talent and manager satisfaction. With a direct access program, businesses can minimize exposure to misclassification liability by incorporating policies and procedures to accurately vet independent talent. Talent can connect with a company at a more personal level, and consistently receive project opportunities to maintain ongoing interest. Direct access prioritizes manager needs as well; talent is quickly and easily engaged, and skill sets are better matched to project needs.
3. Prioritize the Needs of Talent to Attract the Best Candidates
Forward-thinking companies are not only prioritizing enterprise-grade direct access for their managers, but are also focusing on how the program they create is helping them to attract and keep the very best talent. In today’s talent-driven marketplace, independents have a choice when it comes to who they work with. By investing in programs and policies that prioritize the needs of independent talent, businesses can position themselves as a Client of Choice—independent talent’s top choice for client partnership.
Incorporating a personal, human element is a critical component of becoming a Client of Choice. Enterprises need to make their relationship with independents as frictionless as possible by establishing trust and confidence between managers and talent. For example, a manager or talent advisor can work in conjunction with technology to ensure the right independent contractor with the right skills is accurately matched to an available role.
Communication is another top driver for client satisfaction. Creating a good onboarding process and a clear scope of work are two ways to prioritize communication and create a positive user experience. In a client relationship, independents report that they value freedom, control, and flexibility in their work. In fact, 97% say “valuing my work” is an important client attribute. One way to encourage respect for independent contractor values is to have managers promote final, high-value deliverables so independents feel appreciated and can see how their work is making a difference.
Our Final Thoughts
Conference attendees were buzzing with excitement about what the future holds for the contingent workforce and everyone we spoke to said they are looking forward to the growth of this valuable population of talent. In order to make the most of this talent pool and its benefits, businesses must shift their thinking to enterprise-grade direct access to independent professionals. We believe that creating a contingent workforce management program that prioritizes enterprise-grade direct access is the best way to attract, engage, and re-engage high-quality independent talent, remain compliant, and meet manager needs.
Interested in learning more about designing an effective direct access program or becoming a Client of Choice for independent professionals? Get in touch here.
And check out our events page to see where MBO Partners will be speaking, exhibiting, and hosting events throughout the remainder of the year!