SIA Contingent Workforce Summit: North America [ROUND-UP]

Recently, a number of our global colleagues attended the leading global summit for contingent workforce intel: the Staffing Industry Analysts ‘CWS Summit and Collaboration in the Gig Economy’ event held in Dallas Texas.

It was an event offering learnings of gargantuan proportions. We’ve taken the highlights of greatest value and which we felt would resonate for you, our readers.

1. The Workforce Management Ecosystem

First of all, we liked this from SIA: A tidy snapshot of what is the evolving workforce solutions ecosystem. This is a valuable and accurate overview of where the industry is today, and what organisations need to consider in their approach to successful contingent workforce management.


Now, some of the key themes under discussion at the event:

2. To secure the best non-employee talent, focus on THEIR needs…

It’s no secret that today’s market is candidate driven. The number of direct sources from which organisations can locate quality contract talent has exploded, which has made for a power shift in the organisation-contractor relationship. Contractors can be picky. And organisations need to respect that.

Like the employer branding adage of ‘employer of choice’ – a phrase historically referencing the organisation’s appeal as an employer for permanent workers – this phrase rings true too (or it should) when it comes to the engagement, management and re-engagement of non-employee workers.

How does a business achieve this? Here’s a starting list….

  • Remove any administrative or procedural hurdles, so the relationship is smooth, simple and easy for all parties to participate
  • Hiring managers need to be skilled at relationship building: if they can establish trust with quality contract talent, their organisation will remain top-of-mind as a priority choice for contractors
  • Technology that accurately, and efficiently matches talent with the organisation’s skills needs
  • A clear scope and path to delivery for the contractor
  • Offering a quality onboarding procedure
  • Offering flexibility in how the role or project is delivered, within context
  • A clear path to the delivery of high-value outcomes, where the contractor can see their impact in the business, and where the client acknowledges and respects that

3. Enterprise reliance on non-employee workers continues to grow…

Not breaking news, but as we said in Point 2 above, in a contractor driven market, securing the right talent on time and on budget, can be a challenge.

It’s a reason why so many organisations are now starting to set up direct sourcing programs to have non-employee workers available at their fingertips. Utilisation of technology at a vastly improved enterprise level, and a decreasing reliance on recruitment providers is a strategic win-win. Why?

As long as the engagement and management processes are underpinned by regulatory compliance checks, the system for self-sourcing will become increasingly likely.

4. Direct sourcing alone, does not make a contingent workforce program

The approach to sourcing non-employee workers can be viewed as different sides of the same coin. Let’s look at the scenarios…

How do you achieve both? By adopting what MBO partners call an ‘enterprise-grade, direct access program’, from which you will achieve:

  • Better structure & definition for non-employee engagement policies, where non-employee workers go through simple yet rigorous vetting procedures
  • Direct access to independent talent, with skills right for your business
  • A fully compliant non-employee program
  • Risk mitigation, especially for workers misclassification
  • A simple solution to access skilled contractors, as the need arises
  • Technology integration, boosting the satisfaction of both talent & managers – the speed of worker engagement increases as does the matching of skills with business need

A direct-access program will also provide quality independent contractors, with a direct relationship with the hiring organisation. It puts them top-of-mind with hiring managers, when new projects & skills requirements arise.

5. Blockchain & the new world of work

Blockchain, the renowned new ‘backbone’ of a new type of internet, blockchain allows digital information to be stored, distributed, accessed anywhere anytime, but not copied. It was originally designed to support digital currency like Bitcoin, but new it’s value is far more widespread. So widespread in fact, that its implications are now evident in HR and contingent workforce engagement.

This has transpired in a multitude of ways, particularly given blockchain’s characteristics around information security. To give it context in its HR application:

  • Blockchain’s accessibility makes a good play in an HR business context. It means HR decisions can be made on verified information that’s secure and authenticated. Nothing can or has been changed to the data, nothing compromised, and approval is required for secure receipt so corrupt or unauthenticated data can’t pass across the system
  • Think about this in terms of contingent workforce talent acquisition: no longer will organisations need to rely on third party recruitment providers to deliver background & other checks for information accuracy of a candidate: instead, a candidate’s resume, educational achievements, pay slips, which in blockchain are unalterable, maintain validity. It’s the ultimate level of trust and authenticity for verifying a candidate’s background
  • It gets exciting when coupled with other automation solutions like Machine Learning: HR departments can review validated CV’s, extract those qualified and from there, gauge the suitability of a candidate: this not only expedites the process of candidate sourcing, but allows for a verifiable pipeline to be developed, of suitable talent
  • Blockchain provides for a valuable cross-border contractor payment solution, where intermediaries are removed, and talent are paid via borderless secure payroll, in real-time. Similarly on the payment side, Blockchain simplifies payment processes lending further weight to HR’s role as a business partner and commercial contributor

6. Other Learnings from the Summit

  • Gig platforms are disrupting traditional contingent workforce engagement channels
  • Contractors can be pre-validated and ready to begin a project or assignment very quickly
  • Online staffing and direct contractor engagement are leading the growth trajectory across the talent supply chain
  • Companies and their workforce management partners are embracing self-generated, self-managed talent pools
  • Talent pools can be either closed, company-centric managed or open to the market
  • Governments are paying attention to Gig engagement to ensure proper compliance & taxation
  • Leading legacy Talent Acquisition firms are embracing collaboration with the emerging platforms rather than competition
  • Talent is being identified in almost every country around the world to fill roles
  • Concerns the Gig Economy is driving down pay rates to certain classes of workers with increase labour completion from offshore talent
  • Blockchain is changing the way companies identify talent
  • AI is playing and increase role in talent acquisition with intelligence and algorithms
  • Compliance when engaging a gig worker is key as enterprises don’t want to risk miss classification: self-sourcing alone will risk this

We’re keen to hear what you think of these learnings. Let us know in the comments below.


MBO Partners

CXC Global US





Blockchain Revolution