Contingent workforce programs gain visibility while staffing buyers see even more change


Covid-19 has thrust the contingent workforce into the spotlight, with C-suite executives at large companies paying more attention to their contingent workforces amid the pandemic, said Jo Matkin, global workforce solutions research director at SIA, in a keynote address Tuesday at the CWS Summit North America.

That can present opportunities for contingent workforce managers at large staffing buyers.

“For anybody that is running a program, we can absolutely see that as a positive step forward because some of the things perhaps you may have wanted to launch within your own program have now been thrown into the spotlight,” Matkin said, “and you have a brilliant opportunity [to ask] the C-suite [to] reconsider some of those things to really move the program forward.”

Matkin’s address, “2020 – The Dawn of a New Era?” kicked off the virtual conference geared toward staffing buyers. This year’s event attracted more than 850 attendees.

While contingent workforce programs are now in the spotlight at large companies, Matkin cited a number of other trends impacting staffing buyers.

For one, Covid-19 forced organizations to adopt a remote working model more quickly than they otherwise would. Organizations have also been required to trust their workers to get work done without supervision.

There’s also the skills gap. Matkin said the International Labour Organization estimated almost 1 billion roles will need reskilling within the next five years. Staffing buyers need to be able to see and understand where the skills gaps in their organizations are.

Contingent workforce program managers at large staffing buyers are also seeing their roles transition into more full-time jobs, she said. In 2004, only 16% of those tasked with managing a contingent workforce spent the majority time on that task. In 2019, it was 76% that spent a majority of their time on it; meanwhile, 45% spent all of their time managing their contingent workforces in 2019.

Meanwhile, Matkin said direct sourcing is becoming more popular. Direct sourcing is an umbrella term for when buyers leverage their own internal candidate pool to engage contingent workers, but there are a number of ways to do it. For example, the creation of talent pools in direct sourcing can still be done by third parties such as staffing firms, MSPs, RPOs or payrolling suppliers.

In direct sourcing, large staffing buyers can also use their own employer brands to attract talent. Brands could be leveraged to interest more potential workers with the right skills in getting on board. On the flip side, there will be concerns about brand damage.

Matkin also cited diversity and inclusion and its growing importance as the average percentage of workers who are contingent is expected to grow to 24% in 2022 and to 29% in 2030.

The CWS Summit North America continues through today. Its sister conference, Collaboration in the Gig Economy, begins tomorrow and is open to all areas of the workforce ecosystem.