MSP / Contingent Labor

Gaining Visibility on Talent

A recent research report reveals how total talent will impact the future of human capital attraction and management.

As companies face new pressures and priorities, they are thinking more critically about the future of their workforce. According to Aptitude Research’s Total Talent Management: The Key to the Future of Work report, 80% of companies leverage contingent workers, and one in three companies plan to increase their investment this year. A flexible and extended workforce helps companies fill critical talent gaps, reduce costs, and improve overall productivity.

According to the research, even as the demand for contingent workers increases, the challenges around total talent management remain the same. Most contingent workforce strategies lack visibility, rely on antiquated technology, and erode business leaders’ confidence. Companies understand the value, but they do not always see the results. So, companies must shift their contingent workforce management strategies and technology to thrive.

One question that often goes unanswered is who owns and is responsible for contingent workforce strategies? Historically, procurement has taken the lead, with HR having little to no visibility or input in the use of contingent labor. But 35% of companies are shifting their ownership this year to reduce overall costs. When asked how they are shifting ownership, 43% are moving this responsibility from procurement to HR, and 24% are moving from procurement to a shared services model. This strategic shift from procurement to HR will enable companies to have a more holistic view of talent and create visibility into contingent and permanent hires.

Every organization is going through some type of transformation in response to today’s realities and to prepare for the future of work. Technology plays a critical role in helping organizations through this change. As companies reevaluate their talent and workforce technology, contingent workforce management must be part of the equation. Aptitude Research found that 44% of companies invested in new talent technology in 2020, and one in four companies plan to increase that investment in the future. This confirms that companies want innovative solutions that will improve efficiency, effectiveness, and the overall user experience.

Unfortunately, many companies still rely on old-fashioned solutions to manage their contingent labor. Forward-thinking organizations are shifting to solutions that provide better visibility, greater engagement, and reduced costs. For instance, many companies use a VMS to remain compliant and automate certain aspects of contingent workforce management, such as procuring, managing, and analyzing contingent labor. But the truth is they are only managing a small fraction of that contingent spend and often don’t capture SOW workers, independent contractors, freelancers, or other non-employee labor.

As companies start to reevaluate ownership and technology, they need to consider visibility. One of the greatest challenges when it comes to managing contingent labor is the lack of visibility into spend, headcount, and vendor management. This creates confusion for companies looking to make better decisions on both permanent and contingent talent. Many companies second guess their hiring and talent management decisions when they do not have insights into how, when, and why they use non-employees.  And the research shows that cost control, visibility into use and spend, inefficiencies, and lack of ownership of technology were identified as the top challenges in contingent workforce management.

With greater visibility into contingent workforce management, companies can better control costs, manage vendors, and empower workers with a better workplace experience, which in turn helps them attract and retain top talent. Considering partners that offer complete visibility and can establish and report on clear metrics for success across the entire workforce is a great move. But visibility and transparency need to be bi-directional. Meaning, companies should also provide visibility to suppliers, so that they can get talent quickly and with less administrative work.

Further, many businesses do not pay attention to costs until it is too late. According to the study, 39% of companies are not tracking costs for contingent workers and 42% of companies looking to reduce spend are just trying to control these costs. Controlling costs represent a growing concern that companies may be spending more than they should. Many aspects of managing contingent labor can impact program spend, including lack of budget visibility and how budgets are being allocated.

Traditional VMS providers and contingent workforce solutions do not provide enough visibility to empower organizations to make better decisions around spend and vendor management. Companies should consider providers that offer deeper insights, real-time dashboards, and workforce planning capabilities.

As the demand for contingent workers continues to increase, what has worked in the past will no longer work today. Companies need greater visibility around their headcount, spend, and engagement. They need to respond to changes in the overall business with a clear understanding of their current and future talent needs. By shifting ownership and reevaluating technology options, companies are better able to improve visibility and overall results.

Madeline Laurano is founder of Aptitude Research. To view the entire report, visit

Tags: April 2023, MSP & Contingent Labor

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