Contingent (temporary) Labour – get with the programme!

Jason Busch at Spend Matters points out in a post yesterday that much of the new employment in the US, such as it is, has come via temporary staff - or 'contingent labor' as our US friends call it.  (Two countries separated by a common language and all that...)

He suggests that procurement needs to get to grips with this area of spend; and I would support that advice in the UK and Europe as well.  Of course, labour and employment regulations around temporary staff differ across European countries, which creates more of a challenge; but there is no doubt that procurement can add a lot of value to what is traditionally a line or HR managed area.

In my experience, procurement often gets as far as putting a preferred supplier agreement in place, with perhaps some negotiated margins with the major staff providers; but then backs off again.  And that is rarely enough to really control demand, manage specifications, monitor compliance or capture supplier performance; all of which the organisation should ideally be doing.  As Jason says;

Granted, procurement must work hand-in-hand with HR and key business leaders (e.g., IT), a department increasingly dependent on contingent workers. And they should also get to know the managed services provider (MSP) and vendor management system (VMS) landscape as well. HR should definitely be a partner and not the driver of contingent procurement efforts.

Coincidentally, I caught up with Fieldglass, one of the technology leaders in this sector, last week for a chat, and I'll write about that later this week, but in the meantime the Spend Matters Compass research reports focusing on this topic are excellent and free to readers here .  And the Aberdeen report we mentioned last week - which put Fieldglass at the top of the charts in this area along with Emptoris, IG Navigator and Beeline - is available here via the Emptoris web site.

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  1. Christine Morton:

    Oh the stories I could tell you from my OGC days! We always recommended that procurement and HR work in partnership but oftentimes they blamed each other for the problem. The longest serving agency worker in government we found had been in post 26 years, and some local authorities were using agency staff for up to 25% of their headcounts!

    I do think the latest release of the OGC/Havering toolkit (I wrote the first one; the new release – which I didn’t write – was this year) is also very helpful, particularly with updating the latest legal advice.

    1. admin:

      I also worked with an organisation that had someone as a day rate contractor for over 20 years! When I asked why they hadn’t got him to transfer his skills to a member of staff, they said “what he does is very complicated!”
      I very nearly said, “Yes, but you could have sat a bl***y five year with him and by the time they were an adult, they would probably have picked it up pretty well”! Sheer laziness. Oh, and breaking all sorts of EU procurement regs as well. Interim staff engagement is I am pretty sure the most common infringement of the regs across the public sector – people don’t perceive it as a ‘procurement’ but if you are paying the individuals’s company, it is.

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