Is neutrality becoming obsolete?
Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes one business model better than another when it comes to outsourced talent solutions. It’s an interesting question when you think about how many models there are in general and how some solution providers advertise what they believe is the best delivery model. The most commonly advertised models are managed service programs, recruitment placement outsourcing, master vendor, vendor neutral, hybrid, and blended workforce. And don’t even get me started on the acronyms — MSP, VMS, ICCS, SOW, RFX, and so on — “alphabet soup,” as I have heard it warmly referred.
But what does this mean to the average buyer? Before we answer that question, we need to determine what workforce issues clients are trying to solve. From my experience, issues fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Quality talent
- Efficiency in the lifecycle of the process
- Cost of acquisition and deployment
- Redeployment of the best talent
All of these objectives will change in priority depending on the business’s current economic climate, but I find that redeployment of the best talent is the most overlooked, especially in contingent labor solutions. This is probably because most traditional models are set up to manage the process at an arm’s length, or neutrally, from the talent and the business managers.
There is likely a growing gap between solution providers and client satisfaction because providers are not actively engaged at a time when finding the right next project for a worker just might be what it takes to keep that person retained and highly productive. According to Forbes contributor Eric Jackson, one of the top 10 reasons why companies fail to keep their best talent is because they fail to find a project that ignites their employees’ passion.
So back to the original question: What does this mean to the average buyer? Buyers should contemplate their priorities over the next 12 to 24 months and allow those priorities to guide their decision about ideal contingent labor solutions. This might require them to take a closer look at their current solutions to measure whether their provider really delivers the value that is expected.
Contemporary solution providers also need to think and act differently. For example, the idea that the best way to source high-demand professional candidates is through blind or neutral supplier submittals misses the point that candidates and managers want to be engaged during this process. When you sum it up, the contingent labor market is not what it was during the popularization of the MSP and VMS solutions a few years ago. As an industry, we need to break from old stereotypes, such as the MSP provider being the fox in the hen house.
Providers should bring value as talent advisers and human resources experts to their clients, not just be a provider of neutral transactions. That makes neutrality counterintuitive and possibly, to add another word to the mix, obsolete.