The Future of Contingent Labour – The Big Debate

On Monday, in the amazing surroundings of the 37th floor of the Sky Garden in the City of London, a group of Contingent Labour Category Managers and Heads of Indirect Procurement got together to debate the future of contingent labour from a procurement perspective.The organisations represented covered sectors including consumer goods, manufacturing, major retailers, the public sector, pharma, marketing and business services.

The views on a good day (which Monday was) from that venue, better known as the "walkie-talkie" building, are amazing and the venue is unique - a "hothouse" full of plants and greenery, 400 feet above the streets of London. And if you book ahead, you can get free entry to go and experience it, or you can visit the bar, cafe and restaurant up there too.

Comensura roundtableBack to our session - it was an excellent discussion, organised and hosted by supply management specialists Comensura, and I really thought the quality of the thinking was very impressive. What was gratifying was that no-one saw agency margin reduction or beating up either individual workers or agencies as a key procurement tactic. The discussion was much more around managing the demand, looking at getting the specifications for contingent roles right, and fundamentally how to get real value out of all elements of the supply chain for contingent labour.

It was also interesting how many of the participants had real issues over supply of staff. That varied from very specialist areas, such as scientists with particular skills or creative workers in the advertising world, through to factory and warehouse staff. Even in that blue-collar sector of the market, it is clear that labour supply is very "tight" in certain parts of the country. Then of course the shortages in the public sector in areas such as health and social care are well known and documented.

The consequence of that is the need for organisations to pay particular attention to the speed at which workers can be onboarded. "It is no good deciding you want someone and waiting three days to get an offer to them - they will be gone", said one delegate. So having an effective and slick engagement process, again running through agencies, managed service providers and all the internal stakeholders, is a critical success factor.

We also had a fascinating discussion about the Uberisation of work, and we asked the question - are we entering the "age of dis-aggregation"? We will definitely come back with another article on that topic soon! We are also about to publish a new research paper that addresses many of the topics we covered in the discussion - looking at the future of contingent labour from a procurement perspective. We will of course let you know as soon as that is available for you to download, and thanks again to Comensura and to everyone who joined us on Monday.

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