Are You Staffing -- Online?

Two years ago anecdotal evidence found that online staffing had barely penetrated the contingent market, with contingent workforce managers paying little or no attention to this new talent source. Fourteen months ago, I suggested CW managers embrace online staffing or be flattened. (Remember folks, you heard it first at SIA!)

The tide has turned. SIA’s buyer survey revealed that 41 percent of large buyers in 2013 said they were aware of online staffing, up from 32 percent in 2012. Of those CW managers who had heard of it, only 16 percent of hiring managers they serve had heard of online staffing.

But here’s the kicker. Of the hiring managers who are aware of online staffing, 45 percent are using it as a resource — for getting various projects and tasks completed — versus 8 percent of CW managers. Hiring managers are finding it an effective and efficient way to augment their staff.

There are those who believe online staffing could change the model of how CW labor is obtained and managed. Perhaps it’s true. More important, online staffing is on its way to becoming a significant part of the staffing ecosystem. Both buyers and suppliers of temporary labor need to be aware of online staffing. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of this new reality. You don’t want to be caught unawares. This new way of getting work done is on track for becoming a major force in contingent labor.


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Pradeep Chauhan 08/14/2013 02:16 am

Would be nice to get clarity on the definition of Online Staffing. Isn't using an online marketplace to do projects or even hire developers on a time and material basis actually better described as online outsourcing or online consulting and akin to what large companies do when sending work to Indian or China- just that this selection process is happening online?

Staffing, to me, implies onsite contingent workers that were sourced, hired and placed by a third party (staffing agency) at a client site. I don't believe odesk or elance are doing the sourcing or screening. They just host the freelancer profiles in their marketplace and charge a fee for transactions.

What if Monster were to add a feature that said - hire people in our database and pay us a 10% transaction fee, would they now suddenly be the largest staffing company in the world?

To me, the work staffing companies do is- obtain the req, source candidates, screen, submit, negotiate, hire and train contractors - most of these things are not done by online marketplaces. I think the key differentiation ought to be the role the hiring manager plays in the hiring process. If they let a staffing agency search for the contingent worker on their behalf, it is staffing. If they find the worker on their own and are just using a vehicle to do the deal through, it should probably be outsourcing, payrolling, online outsourcing.

I understand the online marketplaces are trying to automate the staffing agencies tasks by providing search filters and reputation systems to hiring managers but these services don't narrow down the 150 applications to the best 3, screen them or are even held accountable for the non-performance of the freelancer. Until they start offering these core tasks as a service why don't we just call them online labor marketplaces.

Staffing Industry Analyst Karpie Andrew 08/06/2013 07:18 pm

Great study and post, Subadhra. It nails the shift.

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