‘It was a hard lesson to learn’ — How technology can help with blind spots in today’s shifting contingent labor market
Every day, there seems to be a new challenge for companies that use contingent labor. The Covid pandemic is still with us, but now problems like the Great Resignation, how to balance remote and in-person workers, new laws and vaccination requirements have become part of the conversation.
To manage these workers and meet the companies’ business goals, it is no longer an option for companies to have outdated manual processes and put off concerns about changes in the workforce. Technology and modern policies must be adopted to manage the contingent workforce. Companies have to be able to accommodate the rapid changes across the board.
For many companies to succeed, the workforce of yesterday is no longer sufficient.
Those businesses making strides are designing strategies that address the optimal composition and location of their workforces, according to Geoff Dubiski, Chief Solutions Officer at Workforce Logiq, a technology provider for workforce management. Workforce Logiq’s focus is on creating individualized technology suites supported by multiple expert teams. That way, businesses can navigate the evolving and complex challenges and rules with reduced risk.
“It basically comes down to designing the workforce of the future, one that is more agile and responsive, and one that meets the needs of companies and workers,” he said. “Contingent workforce management solutions providers need to meet the moment, offering multichannel, multi-faceted approaches. We’re working to move our clients beyond latent and reactionary, helping them navigate whatever comes at them and overcoming that with a good predictive data-based strategy.”
We spoke with Dubiski about what how companies can address today’s fast-paced contingent workforce environment and learn more about how Workforce Logiq is helping.
“The good news is that there are technologies available today that allow businesses to look far more strategically at their workforces, addressing needs and goals that didn’t exist even a couple of years ago,” he said.
Q&A on workforce technology, classification, diversity
Spend Matters: The pandemic is still with us, and companies are facing challenges around things like balancing remote and on-site work, workplace safety and vaccination issues, as well as federal and state legislation changes. What advice would you give to a company that is looking to establish or bolster its integrated technology system?
Geoff Dubiski: Technology has to be agile and flexible — it has to be able to change in the moment to ensure companies can meet ever-changing regulatory, legislative and business goals. Beyond that, systems must be customizable so every client can incorporate their terminologies and parameters. An organization’s technology should fit the way they think about and conduct their business.
At Workforce Logiq, we found during the pandemic that some of our clients could not find enough workers locally, so we used our IQ Location Optimizer tool and showed them alternate geographic markets from which to recruit available talent. With our coaching, they also found ways to modify their workforces and use more near-remote and fully-remote workers.
Companies also need to know where their contract workers are located and what they are doing. There are many situations where you need to know how to contact them to share vital information, whether there is a plant closure, natural disaster or other emergency. Performing the right audits prior to onboarding and implementing an ongoing tracking process means you know who has security badge access, remote access or who has company property. These capabilities are incredibly powerful for organizations.
We found that companies using most of the benefits of our platform when the pandemic hit responded incredibly well, and those that were not using those features started to discover their blind spots. For some, it was a hard lesson to learn.
How can companies navigate the legislative changes that impact how they manage their non-employee workers — like issues of classification and tax status for working in the office vs working from home?
The first thing we advise is not to overreact to headlines. Today, with so much information available, it can be easy for companies to worry about what they read, see and hear, then act impulsively. But it is important to wait until substantial information is available when major business decisions have to be made.
It can also be hard for companies to deal with the whiplash from executive orders that can change immediately when a presidential administration changes. Those orders can have an effect on other federal agencies, like the IRS, Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That cascading effect can result in changes to workforce management practices that have to be implemented quickly and accurately.
State legislation changes can be equally as quick and challenging.
We help our clients manage the changes directly, but I do see a larger role for organizations to do more to support legislative changes. There are a number of professional associations and organizations for gig workers that can lend a voice to political action, and that needs some amplification. Companies in the industry could create amicus briefs and provide data to help craft better legislation. I think there is a reticence at times because companies have to weigh taking a political stance against any potential fallout from that.
How can technology help companies manage the issues that come at them? And is there a need for human-powered support to ensure better outcomes?
If solutions providers undergird their clients’ contingent workforce management programs with technology that can be changed dynamically, companies will be better able to successfully address changes like we have experienced during the pandemic.
Workforce Logiq’s Intelligent Job Requisition Workflow tool, for example, helps hiring managers use templates that are customizable. Requisitions can be created and tailored using data and candidate information so regulatory and compliance requirements are met.
One important point is that even though our technology can improve accuracy and speed, there are parts of the process that need to be mediated by people. Our vendor management system (VMS) provides the tools to categorize, then our account teams and independent contractor (IC) compliance teams further vet candidates for closer evaluation and classification of risk.
We provide a strong balance of powerful technology and highly skilled people, which allows us to help our clients navigate whatever sorts of situations arise, like legislative changes that have tax implications or rapidly changing worker needs.
IC compliance remains an area that can be difficult to manage, and with the explosive growth in contingent labor, mishaps like misclassifying a worker can be costly. What can be done to make the process easier for companies and their contract workers?
Just one misclassified worker can cost a company an average of $35,000 in back taxes, fines and worker benefits, so it is a mistake that few companies can afford to make. The problem can be mitigated by having an expert partner that will guarantee your workers are classified correctly.
We established our team in 1997, and the need continues to grow. What we find is that a lot of organizations offer a quick IRS test, and workers either pass or fail. We want to make sure workers understand the questions, which can be confusing, so they can answer accurately and with the proper context. There are other classification considerations beyond the IRS test, so we include a range of options.
If clients use our technology and vetting process (and follow our advice), Workforce Logiq will indemnify them against misclassification, which is not offered by most other managed service providers (MSPs). Proper IC compliance benefits workers too. If you have chosen to work as an independent contractor, you want to be dealt with professionally — workers want to feel safe and secure.
At Workforce Logiq, we are proud of our results. We just ran our first quarter 2021 numbers, which was about 3,000 recent audits and maintained our perfect record. We have never had an audit file overturned.
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is at the fore of hiring today, even with so many other challenges out there, but it tends to be talked about as part of the permanent full-time workforce. What is Workforce Logiq doing to ensure its clients meet specific goals with their contingent workforce?
Today, there are more demands on companies and hiring managers to incorporate diversity and inclusion in all hiring practices, which means contingent labor has to meet the same goals. This requires a completely new approach. The good news is that there are technologies available now that allow businesses to look far more strategically at their workforces, addressing needs and goals that didn’t exist even a couple of years ago.
At Workforce Logiq, we have developed a suite of tools powered by artificial intelligence that are contextualized with expert insight that support individual client’s D&I efforts. Our Total Talent Intelligence platform, IQ Location Optimizer, and IQ Talent Diversity solutions are just some of what we have developed.
Our clients, as organizations that rely on talent to supply products and services, leverage our technology through our people. It’s our account managers who know their markets, their competitors. It’s knowing the supply channels and analyzing data through our technology to provide insights and look at leading trends so they can continue to be ahead of the game.
By bringing a number of our tools together and pairing that with our expert teams, we can create slates of candidates that are equally represented and weighted, and in some cases can help with underrepresented groups in certain geographies or functions within the company. We go beyond the traditional Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s categories and look at things like neurodiversity, sexual orientation and gender identity.
We also look at suppliers because working with a diversity supplier has to mean more than just spending money with categorical certification like minority- or women-owned. Those still matter, but we look deeper at the candidates to make sure they provide diverse choices. Our technology gives us a double lens that powers diversity recruitment — we look at supplier organizations and the people they recruit.
We use our total talent intelligence, branding, supplier responses and work with local community-based organizations that might fly under the radar of a lot of MSP programs. This gives us the ability to augment our localized hiring initiatives, reaching an even more diverse talent pool. In some markets, we have relationships with local organizations like the National Urban League and HBCUs to find highly localized talent that may not be recruited or represented by the typical suppliers inside of a program. We also work with affinity and alliance groups like the Mom Project.
That takes me back to my earlier point about having expert people supporting our technology. With D&I, one of our differentiators is our subject matter expertise. We have a small but mighty advisory A-team that analyzes the data so each client can access what our diversity officer calls “America’s available workforce.”
Simply put, the technology is an enabler for data, speed, accuracy, decision support and auditability, among other things. In a relational space, such as talent, it is not a full replacement for subject-matter expertise and application of that to the business strategies and tactics of each of our clients.
Unless the people on the hiring side understand why it’s important to hire diversity candidates, that technology is worthless. We match our technology with education that goes beyond understanding that diversity hiring is the right thing to do. We show our clients that it’s good for business.
This Brand Studio post was written with Workforce Logiq.
Direct Sourcing of Labor, Total Talent Management Strategy Help Companies Improve Independent Contractor Success06/13/2019
Direct Sourcing of Labor, Total Talent Management Strategy Help Companies Improve Independent Contractor Success06/13/2019