CWS 3.0: December 11, 2013

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Creating Urgency Around CW Programs

Recently, I spoke with a contingent workforce manager who happened to be in procurement. She felt that her group had taken the program to a certain point and was questioning the best possible function or department to take the program to the next level. This is not entirely uncommon. As a program evolves over time, the leadership required to take it from one level to another may need to change.

But in this particular instance, the procurement manager was frustrated with the lack of urgency that the HR department, was feeling with regard to the program. That lack of urgency was limiting her ability to develop a talent strategy that would maximize the value from the program and take it up a notch. Unfortunately, the HR department couldn't care less about the value of a contingent workforce, and the procurement manager needed their cooperation to move things along. This was obviously frustrating.

We are witnessing the evolution of a $2 trillion dollar industry — that of contingent workforce management. We have front row seats to the market, regulatory and legislative forces that are shaping the future of how work gets done. As part of this massive change in the industry, many buyers are experiencing an existential crisis of sorts, reaching a point (as seen above) where they question the very value of their program.

In such cases, how does one go about creating a sense of urgency around contingent workforce management. Specifically how do you create a sense of urgency or even interest when cost savings, risk mitigation and process efficiencies are dynamics that are no longer on the table?

There are many great strategies for change management and selling a solution. For the sake of this particular circumstance, however, I want to focus on one key activity: Educating HR. Often, HR’s knowledge of the contingent workforce is limited to agency temps, as was the case here. HR did not understand the role the contingent workforce played within the organization. We determined the best approach was to review the expanded definition of the contingent workforce, and to develop a mutually agreed-upon understanding of how important each of those roles are to the organization and what value they bring along with opportunities to greatly increase that value.

Let’s start with agency temps. Review with HR what skills that you buy most often and how much they cost. Then you can talk about how long they stay in your building, what are they doing and how often they become full-time hires? This can lead to your HR department understanding right off the bat how this particular category requires supervision beyond procurement’s sphere of influence. From there, you can address your other contingent labor categories individually — payrolls, independent contractors, statement of work providers, consultants, outsource service providers and interns — some of the associated risks with these particular roles and how your company has chosen or not chosen to mitigate that risk. Explore each of these different labor categories with your HR counterparts and make sure you consider how your company may best leverage this expanded labor force.

It’s never easy to build a program business case and even harder to change people’s preconceived notions, but by starting with the basics and building from there, you can be best equipped to make changes in your organization that will reap benefits for decades.

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