Coming together to shape the future of work at CWS Summit Europe

Adelle Harrington Adelle Harrington Vice President, KellyOCG EMEA

592 delegates. 297 companies. 20 countries. The energy in the room at Staffing Industry Analyst’s CWS Summit Europe 2023 was infectious. Providers were excited to share new ideas, delegates were engaged and curious, and speakers offered fresh takes on industry challenges. It was wonderful to spend a couple of days in the company of passionate leaders and changemakers – connecting with KellyOCG clients and suppliers in person and exploring the future of work. This was the largest CWS Summit Europe on record and it showed – the atmosphere was fantastic.

SIA’s Vice President of the CWS Council, Dawn McCartney, opened this year’s conference and set the tone with a timely keynote – Preparing Your Contingent Workforce Programme for Success in Uncertain Times. In the face of economic uncertainty and talent shortages, it’s easy for organisations to stick with the status quo and stand still – but, as Dawn outlined in her powerful talk, disruption also presents opportunities for innovation. Whether that’s automation, new workforce management solutions, or improving talent visibility, increasing efficiency and improving access to sought-after skills through strategic change can help leaders to weather the storm.

For me, collaboration is crucial to succeeding through adversity, and closer ties between solutions and technology providers, leaders – and even between competitors – can ensure we all have the depth and breadth of knowledge to overcome shared obstacles. This collaboration was firmly on display at the CWS Summit and it was exciting to see so many new connections being forged.

Here are some of the key themes that will stick with me following the event.

Building stronger workforce foundations through visibility

One thing that came up again and again in conversations at the CWS Summit was visibility. Whether leaders were exploring a first-gen workforce solution or looking to build on an existing programme, visibility was a key focal point for everyone. It’s easy to see why; access to a clear picture of every part of your workforce (including contingent workers) and available skills is essential in an uncertain work landscape. In the face of hiring freezes, budget cuts, and skills shortages, leaders must know where their talent sits to effectively organise workforces to deliver maximum value. This is particularly important for those taking the first steps on their strategic workforce journey. 50% of the attendees at CWS were new to the event and a large proportion of those delegates were new to contingent workforce solutions. It’s impossible to dive into cutting-edge innovation and tools without the foundational visibility that shapes a workforce strategy.

Leading with authenticity

If you visited the KellyOCG booth at the event, you probably noticed something a little unusual (and I’m not just talking about our stuffed dinosaurs!). We had a real-life polygraph machine, offering delegates the chance to test their truth-telling skills. It started some really interesting conversations about honesty and authenticity, and got me thinking about just how important these values are in workforce solutions today. Many businesses are operating on tighter margins; they need the maximum value from their technology or solutions investments, and to achieve that, it’s vital to choose an authentic partner. It’s something I think we do incredibly well at KellyOCG, and it was great to hear that reflected in conversation at CWS.

Collaborating through adversity

Many organisations feel like they are going it alone. It was something that we talked about during our CWS Summit panel discussion – Is Your Organisation’s Culture Ready for Better Contingent Workforce Management? But the truth is that very few are experiencing something unique; most companies are on similar journeys to transform their workforce strategy, complete with shared challenges and pitfalls. Creating the right culture for change. Increasing visibility and agility. Implementing proven workforce technology. These are all steps that will have a positive impact on contingent workforce strategy in any organisation. This also means that there is a huge amount to be gained through collaboration, through sharing those challenges and solutions that can help leaders move forward faster. CWS Summit Europe felt like a very collaborative space and it was great to see so many talented people putting their heads together. I believe closer collaboration between solutions providers, suppliers, and technology providers will be particularly important as we move into the next era of workforce solutions.

The 2023 Kelly Global Re:work Report found that 42% of global executives believe they are failing to unlock the potential of their workforce, so it was great to hear so many CWS Summit delegates excited about the future and exploring ways they can collaborate to grow workforce resilience and access to skills. The future of workforce solutions may be complex, but with so many leaders, experts, and providers working together to overcome the challenges we face, it looks very bright!


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