Randstad Japan and Gigwalk Taking Temporary Staffing into the On-Demand, Gig Economy

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Randstad Japan, a division of the world's second-largest HR service provider, and on-demand workforce platform provider, Gigwalk, recently announced a partnership that will inject on-demand platform technology into an established temporary staffing business to achieve faster placements, lower transaction costs and meet client needs that could not be supported with a traditional staffing model. The program is being rolled out across all of Japan, where there is a labor shortage, especially in the food service and retail industries.

Marcel Wiggers, chairman and CEO of Randstad Japan, said that “approximately 2,000 on-demand staffing positions are dispatched per day, from promoters at a supermarket, to traffic researchers and warehouse workers.”

According to the press release, the aim of the initiative is to “to improve the work process by minimizing phone, email and fax communications and transitioning to a mobile [app] solution that offers better and faster job matching, and the ability for workers to easily accept or decline jobs, clock hours and communicate with recruiters.”

The press release also states that Randstad is anticipating improved efficiency by “enabling mobile alerts for workers, speeding time to deployment, eliminating paper time sheets and providing real-time data on both the work and the worker to ensure compliance with Japanese labor laws.”

Gigwalk CEO David Hale said in a recent call that “the solution is comprised of the Gigwalk mobile application and a SaaS solution, hosted in Japan for matching available work and Randstad Japan workers.” Hale pointed out, that for staffing businesses, “this involves a complete rethinking of how they are connecting with their contingent workforce.”

While hundreds of on-demand labor platforms (ranging from Freelancer.com to Shiftgig) have been emerging as distinct businesses over the past years, the Randstad/Gigwalk partnership appears to be the first time a temporary staffing business has embraced and actually implemented an online platform service.

A number of other staffing firms have conducted some ad hoc trials and limited pilots but have not organized those initiatives to achieve commercial launch. By contrast, Hale told us that Randstad “has been planning this for quite some time, and has undergone multiple pilots over the past couple of quarters to get to this point.”

It is noteworthy that Randstad Holdings NV and its corporate Innovation Fund invested in Gigwalk in the spring of 2014. (Randstad has invested in other platform businesses.) This Randstad-Gigwalk program seems to validate the idea that investments in platform businesses like Gigwalk can lead to innovative, alternative models within staffing businesses. At this time, Randstad, Japan-based Recruit Holdings and Adecco, appear to be the only staffing businesses investing online platform business. Adecco/Beeline actually acquired platform business OnForce, and Beeline has been leveraging the acquired software and people to develop an extension to its VMS in order to support the direct sourcing and management of independent/freelance workers; however, this new technology solution does not appear to be used today within any Adecco staffing businesses.

Spend Matters views the Randstad Japan-Gigwalk partnership as “a first” and a milestone event in the industry. When several years ago, online work intermediation platform businesses began to emerge, many traditional staffing businesses were skeptical of these new models. Some even went so far as to say that these were not staffing and predict that compliance issues and other factors would result in their collapse. This seems not to be true. It was also not anticipated that staffing firms could leverage such online platforms to create hybrid models (something which is now finally validated). Based on what we have been observing, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and we expect to see a future supply chain that will consist of two different additional kinds of staffing suppliers (in addition to the traditional ones): standalone platform providers and evolved, hybrid staffing businesses.

To learn about Gigwalk, read our earlier coverage.

Please follow Andrew Karpie on Twitter @andrewkarpie. Read more of our contingent workforce and services procurement coverage.

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