The impression of the contingent workforce has evolved over time. Earlier, contingent work was considered just-in-time labor, something to fill the gaps. Today, it's valued as a strategic tool. Managed service providers (MSPs) or strategic staffing partners are expected to provide a deep understanding and expertise around a company's overall workforce strategy, and they need to be able to look at a job that arises from many aspects.
"Front door -- subject matter experts should be able to direct work down the appropriate path so that ultimately a company is able to execute a broad talent strategy that maintains the optimal mix of contingent labor, project-based labor and full-time equivalents," Creech says.
And who are these front-door partners? The front-door folks will be workforce specialists that come from backgrounds that include HR and procurement. But down the road there is going to be a stronger blending of concepts like RPO, and MSP and traditional staffing fulfillment, Creech asserts. Those models exist now, but today they subsist in silos. For example, RPO services are usually purchased by HR, MSP by a combination of procurement and HR, and project-based work is purchased by the end user or line manager. "And I see those things over time beginning to blend together as companies look at their workforce strategy as a whole versus those individual silos", says Creech.
The economic downturn has helped accelerate the process as companies are examining the right mix of flexible and full-time talent. Firms will outsource the process to their strategic workforce partners, as that is not typically a core competency. In the meantime staffing firms need to study various workforce arrangements. They need to deepen their understanding of the talent market and where it's heading. Clients will need to explore non-traditional workforce strategies.