A view from the 2020 CWS Summit North America

10/01/2020

By Tammy Browning, SVP & President, KellyOCG

Each year the CWS Summit North America gives us the space to think bigger and dig a little deeper into the issues that matter. The virtual event didn’t disappoint, and I was impressed by the meaning and purpose in every discussion. 2020 has been a year where everything happened and nothing happened. That said, so much has changed in the world of talent, which has fast-tracked several burgeoning workforce trends. Below are some reflections from CWS that could be signalling a new direction for the world of work.

Working in a pandemic: How long will the changes brought on by it last?

It’s impossible to talk about our industry today without bringing up Covid-19 – the pandemic acted as a backdrop for much of CWS. From working at home to tracking remote worker productivity and engaging nervous onsite workers, everyone is asking if we’ll ever go back to normal.

What we know is that we can’t close the door on what’s happened. People’s expectations of how and where they work have evolved. And, organizations are looking at implementing long-term flexible work options that keep remote workers engaged. Remote work has also expanded the talent pool to a global scale, providing access to more candidates. While we don’t have all the answers yet, it is becoming clear that leaders who don’t begin to pivot may struggle to retain workers.

From a talent strategy viewpoint, the pandemic might also ramp up current predictions on labor mix. Contingent talent is under the spotlight as the human cloud continues to boom and organizations look to flexible, scalable talent that can give immediate support. Research from SIA found that 29% of the workforce is predicted to be contingent by 2029. Will the pandemic accelerate these trends?

What’s new in MSP tech?

From conversations with my peers around current MSP expectations, MSP providers need to offer more than a VMS.  Customer insight tells us they’re looking for an MSP solution that’s infused with tech touchpoints that support hiring managers and boost candidate engagement. There’s also pressure on MSP providers to:

  • provide remote support,
  • integrate video interviewing, and
  • connect to the human cloud.

Today’s MSP recognizes an organization’s challenges and flexes as these challenges change. For example, during the pandemic organizations needed to interview and onboard workers via a fully remote process. That meant many MSPs had to quickly integrate technology such as video interviewing and virtual onboarding into their programs to ensure secure uninterrupted hiring for their clients and seamless onboarding of workers.

We were excited to launch our BS-free MSP at the summit. It is great timing as buyers are looking to simplify and streamline their programs. Today’s challenges are broad, but we’re positioning our MSP solutions to evolve with the businesses they support.  For us, this means offering our services to specialty organizations, integrating our human cloud platform, and bringing to market simple and effective solutions that help clients solve their workforce challenges.  (Yes – and anticipating what they need next.)

The future of direct sourcing

Direct Sourcing was another big theme at the CWS Summit. Industry experts believe that MSP providers will be responsible for managing and engaging regularly with this curated group of candidates as these talent pools become an extension of an organization. Direct Sourcing is here to stay because it reduces the time and costs to find the right candidate eliminating the need for staffing firms. As MSPs partner with clients to identify talent in the pool for assignments, it pushes staffing providers to re-assess how they search for qualified candidates at a less expensive rate to maintain market share. As the program matures, the percentage of workers placed through this model increases impacting the talent supply chain if they can’t figure out how to support this strategy.

Embedding diversity and inclusion: Can we help support this talent pool?

For too long, diversity and inclusion conversations focused on how much an organization spent with diverse suppliers. Research cites the benefits of diverse workforces and that has organizations considering wide-ranging talent for appropriate requisitions and initiatives. As an organization, we are also looking at what happens inside organizations related to the higher turnover rates of diverse workers.

I don’t know what 2021 will bring for the industry, but I do believe we’ll still be coming together as a talent community and industry to help shape what’s next for work.  I’m also incredibly proud of the work we’re doing at KellyOCG. As we collectively stop to catch our breath, we’re excited to implement some big ideas for MSPs.

CWS attendees can view Tammy’s panel session “The Staffing Industry and Workforce Solutions Ecosystem in a Post-Covid-19 World,” on the platform until October 15.