Enabling Innovative Workforce Engagement Through a Multichannel Approach

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The time, resources and technological capabilities needed to effectively address today’s non-employee labor challenges typically exceed what is available to an in-house procurement group. Bridging this gap requires contingent workforce program managers to embrace an innovative approach to program management. This innovative approach allows them to tap into a broader extended workforce ecosystem to source, engage and manage much-needed talent through a multichannel approach.

So how does a company accomplish this? One option is engaging a forward-looking, innovative managed service provider (MSP). This partner can serve as the ecosystem hub, orchestrating access to the many sources and channels for workers procurement cannot fully and optimally manage on its own. There are four channels within the non-employee labor ecosystem that contingent workforce managers can tap, through the MSP program, that facilitate this innovative multichannel approach — staffing, digital work/services platforms, statement of work (SOW) and freelancers.

Channel 1: Temporary Staffing

A starting point for any fruitful procurement-MSP relationship can be the most familiar of channels: staffing suppliers. Rather than sticking with the old mentality of outsourcing staffing to an MSP to offload the headache of efficiently finding workers, today’s leading MSPs act as proactive scouts, seeking out talent suppliers while looking to add new sources to the mix. A one-size-fits-all approach to selecting a staffing firm no longer meets most companies’ needs.

The true innovation in staffing management, however, comes from the analytical approach top MSPs are now using. Beyond simply placing workers, a provider accessing and analyzing in-company and industry-wide data can tap experiential knowledge from prior engagements and individual industry sectors to report on categories including headcounts, fills, spend, requisition volume, assignment ends and tenure.

Tying analytics and reporting to non-employee labor programs transforms what was a transactional relationship into a strategic weapon that enhances the overall quality of your non-employee labor program. Seeing trends play out over time alerts a business when a change of supplier may be necessary; when outcomes are positive, companies will learn where to grow supplier relationships and foster increased collaboration.

Channel 2: Digital Work/Services Platforms

In addition to applying powerful analytics to traditional staffing supplier channels, innovative MSPs are designing and establishing alternative channels, such as direct sourcing. With direct sourcing -- enabled by new technologies -- an MSP can deliver workers more quickly, with lower mark-ups and closer fit to requirements. A direct sourcing channel can also tap into the growing population of specifically-skilled freelancers who can provide work on limited projects.

A direct sourcing channel consists of a platform that engages candidates using social media and mobile technologies, applying algorithmic matching — enhanced by machine learning and expert talent curators — to build a pre-vetted talent reservoir. The platform enables MSPs to create client-specific private talents pools from which clients can source on-demand.

In such a model, the MSP would serve as the architect, building an ecosystem of select partners that would provide the components of a completely integrated direct-sourcing solution. This, in combination with the deep insights and actionable outcomes from data analytics applied to staffing decisions, ultimately save the business time. Faster, more consistent outcomes can free up program managers to complete other duties. When the MSP fulfills many staffing functions, procurement gains opportunities to focus on other increasingly strategic channels within the ecosystem.

Channel 3: SOW/Services

The growing importance of SOW in non-employee labor management is undeniable. Nearly half of program managers are already engaged in some form of SOW management, and 46% of those not using SOW said they would do so within the next two years, according to Staffing Industry Analysts. Determining how to best engage this program component is essential to running an innovative program.

With SOW’s fast-growing importance, the old approach of tactical management it is no longer effective. The staffing industry has been held back by its tendency to manage SOW using a transactional approach. Often times, out of necessity, contingent workforce managers found themselves dumping SOW terms into a VMS, then babysitting the engagement until it was completed.

Leading MSPs are introducing innovation into this channel by moving farther upstream in the sourcing process, performing sourcing, selection and negotiation functions for the client. Proactively seeking out best-fit contractors and focusing on the selection process ensures a company is using the best suppliers for each engagement. It also helps procurement capture savings, as well as ensuring that internal compliance policies are adhered to, reducing third-party risk.

When today’s fastest-growing channel is securely managed, procurement can start looking at an emerging channel that has the potential to take up an increasing amount of its focus.

Channel 4: Independent Workforce

The prevalence of freelance workers presents both challenges and opportunities for non-employee labor program managers. If procurement can figure out how to overcome the necessary infrastructure and compliance obstacles, using freelancers can open up a wealth of high-end talent. These workers offer significant innovation opportunities for companies.

Both younger workers and high-performing professionals are increasingly choosing to work as freelancers. They want to be able to choose their jobs, seeking out specific experiences and employers. To secure sources of specialized talent as needed, non-employee labor managers will need to embrace new ways of engaging and securing this talent. Leading MSPs are offering the infrastructure to do just that through talent cloud technologies.

These systems house talent in customized pool defined by the client, filled with groups such as current employees, alumni, retirees, veterans and specialized freelancers. The MSP manages and populates the cloud on behalf of the business, while also vetting and qualifying professionals for the pool based on the company’s requirements.

To obtain the most value possible from this channel, it is critical for companies to actively engage with candidates. A leading-edge MSP will not just assemble a talent cloud for your program but also curate it, continuously engaging talent through networking and gamification. This approach reduces time-to-fill by keeping the best talent accessible to your company. It also improves candidate quality, allowing contingent workforce managers to tap high-performing professionals who have the specialized knowledge and experience that can lead to innovation.

Branching Out into the Ecosystem 

The savvy contingent workforce manager will see that the broader contingent workforce ecosystem offers far more opportunities to the business than the old, transactional approach to program management. And while these are only three channels, they are a strong starting point for companies looking to shift to an ecosystem approach.

Just as physical supply chains have evolved, becoming more complex and global, non-employee labor supply chains have become fragmented and more difficult to manage. As new worker types and suppliers continue to emerge, engaging a trusted extended workforce management partner can help non-employee labor managers access this dynamic ecosystem, shifting to a more innovative approach to managing this ever-evolving supply chain.

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