A report on the fusion of traditional recruiting and contingent workforce management.
By Teresa Creech
With an unpredictable economy, forward-thinking companies are not just looking at cost savings any more. They are also focusing on initiatives that allow them to effectively use their workforce to gain market share and increase profits. By having greater visibility of their entire workforce in the short term, these companies are better equipped to build an on-demand approach for achieving organizational effectiveness. And in the long term, these companies will be better able to optimize their resource population to best identify and position themselves for strategic opportunities with scalable solutions.
This level of total talent visibility is one of the reasons that companies are integrating strategies for traditional talent acquisition with contingent workforce management to achieve what is now widely known as a blended workforce strategy. This strategy enables companies to be market leaders not just by attracting the best talent, but by better balancing the talent they have in-house.
Recently, Aberdeen Group released an analyst insight report on the growing attention that companies are giving to the blended workforce idea. That report, Driving a Blended Workforce Strategy: a Total Talent Approach, provides a business perspective based on quantitative and qualitative research covering more than 300 HR and procurement decision makers across all industries. Notably, it covers the drivers behind the blended workforce push, the demands of implementation, the perceived business impact, and the role of technology.
While we continually hear about the need for a blended workforce approach in industry media, the study reveals that it is gaining real world traction. An understanding of the opportunities and challenges sheds light on how the blended workforce approach and associated solutions to support it are performing today and how they may evolve in the future.
Providers Face New Demands
With visibility across the talent spectrum as the essential driver for the blended workforce approach, it is no surprise that companies are taking a careful look at their own capabilities in the area, as well as the capabilities of their managed service program (MSP) and recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partners. The idea is gaining much interest in both procurement and human resources, and in MSP in particular, the implications are compelling.
From a solutions partnership standpoint, the report notes that companies that have deployed MSP programs have a strategic partner that is working with both procurement and HR as a conduit to bridge the gap within those organizations to maximize their blended workforce strategy. As procurement often targets cost savings and risk mitigation, and HR drives policy and quality, there are often gaps in driving the blended workforce strategy.
Aberdeen’s survey identified several key drivers in this shift to an integrated approach to talent acquisition and contingent workforce supplier management, including reducing costs, improving visibility to attract quality talent, and improved productivity. According to the report, “If organizations have a clear view of their traditional employees and contingent and contractor workforce, they are better equipped to make leaner and smarter decisions around securing and retaining talent.”
It is often easy to recognize the need for a blended workforce strategy, but implementing this strategy can be challenging for many organizations. The keys to a successful approach in implementing a blended workforce strategy are developing a roadmap that takes into consideration the full spectrum of stakeholder needs, identifying key gaps in the current human capital acquisition process, and engaging a strategic partner and/or methodology that can support and enable the complexities associated with improving the current strategy.
According to the Aberdeen research, while optimizing costs and improving visibility into the talent supply are important drivers for success, identifying and acquiring top-level talent involves a series of processes in which cost or visibility are not top-of-mind. Instead, these processes are only concerned with the end result of overall organizational enhancement.
To achieve measureable success with a blended workforce, this must be a comprehensive organizational initiative, which might require extension beyond a single category or department. All facets of the organization must have input into the strategy and roadmap. The goal should be to conduct a realistic assessment of the current state of the organization, and align the strategy with corporate objectives, culture, market conditions, and the competitive landscape.
A successful blended workforce strategy requires an understanding of the demands of the business beyond policy and process. Often it is more important to have the right controls in place rather than tight controls, as a blended workforce necessitates collaboration of key decision makers. How the strategy is applied is as critical as the strategy itself, ensuring that it aligns and supports the goals and opportunities of the business, and does not limit them.
A blended workforce is the engine that drives the key initiatives for the organization’s lines of business. And according to Aberdeen the “contingent workforce umbrella” extends beyond staffing suppliers and involves independent contractors, consultants, and professional services. With that in mind, overseers of the strategy must take into account not just the classification of these resources, but also the proper categorization of the work product. By properly categorizing the resources and work in relation to the needs of the organization, companies create efficiencies and maximize productivity.
This categorization of talent allows for the organization to implement what Aberdeen describes as a “three-tiered foundation for success; the ability to better foster collaboration between key internal units, define a formal strategy, and invest in technology as a program enhancer. And for organizations to get the most value from a blended workforce approach, they should consider implementing all facets of end-to-end recruitment to their blended workforce solutions provider.”
Technologies and Analytics
Technology is required to effectively support a blended workforce; however, the right technology strategy requires enterprise considerations and possible integration of systems and processes. Today most of the technologies that are used provide forms of reporting, but the true value comes from being able to effectively identify relevant and important data and translate it into actionable execution. Having a partner that understands this information, and can properly present it, creates opportunities to actively manage against predictive indicators and drive continuous improvement.
In reality, both macro and micro approaches are still being used simultaneously in most companies. This lack of cohesion leads to a gap in how companies interpret and use program metrics, along with variances in criteria that organizations deem measurable. According to the Aberdeen research, “What’s especially worrisome about the representation of analytics is that 52 percent of organizations surveyed do not currently realize the value of analytics in their blended workforce strategies. Twenty-one percent of organizations have infrequent utilization of analytics. As discussed in the previous section regarding collaboration, it is crucial for business units to utilize a centralized system for information-sharing. A key to an optimum blended workforce strategy is the ability of functioning units to tap into intelligence from the same system.”
A look at the report’s insights on blended workforce strategy reveals that the approach is indeed gaining traction. It also reveals that companies are recognizing the challenges and opportunities. If your organization is exploring or embarking on a blended workforce strategy—whether local or global, immediate or long term, all-encompassing or segmented—it is important to recognize the co-dependencies of variable- and fixed-talent strategies.
Today, most leading organizations are looking at optimizing their talent investment and gaining better visibility into the comprehensive workforce as priorities over the next year. Successful implementation means achieving wins and gaining support. This begins with a roadmap that takes into account enterprise objectives. This leads to measurable areas of impact. Cost savings and risk mitigation are critical success metrics, but the larger spectrum of opportunities such as talent use, speed to revenue, and employer competitiveness can drive expanded measureable results.
Most of all, building a sustainable and optimal end-to-end human capital solution requires active and continuous collaboration among procurement, HR, business stakeholders, technology providers, and your blended workforce solutions partner. As many organizations realize in competing for a scarce talent supply, the blended workforce and the total talent approach is no longer a nice-to-have feature; it is a growing business imperative. Through the right approach and partnership, companies are now realizing that they can turn that business imperative into a competitive talent advantage.
Teresa Creech is president of MSP and contingent workforce solutions at Randstad Sourceright.