CWS 2012: Hybrids and MSPs for better talent acquisition
The headline of this post sounds like a cross between a Motor Trend magazine article and an article about HR, right? It actually originated from conversations I had at this year’s Staffing Industry Analysts’ Contingent Workforce Summit (CWS). While there, I spoke with mid-sized companies looking to better manage their contingent labor as well as some growing companies looking for other options.
What stood out to me is that many mid-sized companies are realizing that a greater percentage of their workforce is temporary. Like most companies today, they don’t have a lot of resources, especially in HR, and everybody wants to be more efficient or save money.
Do you really have internal experts?
When conversations about managed staffing providers (MSPs) came up at CWS, there were a lot of questions about the value that an MSP could bring. The answer? Today, talent acquisition and, more specifically, the management of staffing suppliers can best be managed by an MSP. Not only do many companies lack internal experts, but many don’t have any staff at all to devote to these activities.
While there are certainly other areas in which an MSP adds value, with any type of complex process, whether it’s screening or uncovering hard-to-find skills, it pays to have the MSP keeping track and ensuring compliance and efficiency. Many mid-sized companies are realizing how easy it is for things to fall through the cracks, even at low volumes. An MSP helps avoid this.
One size doesn’t fill all
The other thing that was apparent at CWS this week was that there are several different models of MSP engagements. While all have similar benefits, there’s not one that will fit all circumstances. For example, we heard about AT&T’s contingent labor program. AT&T recently went from a completely self-managed model with internally developed technology tools, to outsourcing the vendor management system (VMS) portion. Other organizations of similar size outsource everything, while some started with outsourcing and then decided to bring it in-house.
Mid-sized companies at CWS heard from giants such as AT&T that there’s more to managing a contingent labor program that simply getting staffing vendors in line. It’s a progression, and to paraphrase comments made during one panel session, it’s best to get started as soon as you can.
Test drive the hybrids
In other conversations, people commented on specific MSP models such as a vendor-neutral approach. However, I detected an interest in meeting the diverse needs of a mid- to large-sized organization. During a roundtable session that I facilitated, one participant defined how four different parts of her organization operated with respect to contingent labor. It was clear to her that it was going to take an MSP model that would work for all of her constituents, not just one or two of them.
The hybrid concept is one where the MSP (or another single vendor) might function as a master vendor in some areas, filling a majority of the positions, but in other areas job orders are sent out to associate staffing vendors to competitively fill the positions. This model is typically used when large business units have differing needs.
Act now — operators are standing by
The bottom line: there is a growing realization that most companies, even small- to mid-sized companies, need to understand that managing a contingent workforce is a skill and it takes time and resources. Also, if you think it gets easier as the number of temporary workers gets larger, think again. The prevailing opinion at CWS was that now is the time to get your contingent labor house in order, before things really pick up.