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Your Guidebook to Contingent Workforce Management, Part I: Engagement Evolution

Welcome to the first entry in a four-part series designed to discuss the publication of Ardent Partners’ second annual State of Contingent Workforce Management (CWM) research report. The new study, titled A Guidebook to Managing Non-Traditional Talent, was developed and written by Christopher J. Dwyer as the official “handbook” for those organizations seeking guidance and direction in building effective programs for managing all types of contingent labor. To download the new report, click here, here, here, or here.

It is often said that “talent” is the lifeblood of a business’ overall growth. In today’s fast-paced, cutthroat business environment, that statement has never been truer. What’s incredibly different from years past (the pre-economic downturn period) is that this “talent” isn’t just comprised of traditional, full-time employees. Non-traditional talent has become the preeminent source of unique, top-level skill sets that can carry critical corporate projects, support crucial enterprise endeavors, and contribute to the quality of initiatives that can spur business growth and development.

The State of Contingent Workforce Management research study finds that the sources of non-traditional talent are coming into a period of transformation, with the “classic” means of finding and engaging contingent labor expected to drop in utilization in the coming years in favor of new, “next-gen” outlets. These traditional sources of contract talent, such as staffing suppliers / agencies and personal networks, currently dominate the CWM marketplace from an engagement perspective, as the majority of enterprises turn to these outlets to source their non-traditional talent, workers, and services.

However, what’s interesting to note is how the distribution of non-traditional talent sources are expected to change over the next two years. The legacy means of sourcing contingent workers are going to drop in the years ahead, paving the way for companies to turn to several innovative sources of talent, such as:

  • Social media and social networks, expected to grow by 60% over the next two years, are actively ushering in an age of “socially-sourced talent.” Social platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, can easily connect enterprises to freelance and other non-traditional talent types by targeting niche industries or concepts and the individuals or services linked to those (i.e., searching for hashtags and other social-specific methods). Social media is a living, breathing business force … and also a viable source for non-traditional talent.
  • Online labor marketplaces and freelance networks have risen in utilization in recent months as collective outlets for pinpointing contractors and freelancers that specialize in fields or industries that may be aligned with specific enterprise projects or tasks. These networks are ideal means for engaging non-traditional talent in a quicker fashion, since marketplaces are often developed to allow recruiters to easily identify in-demand skillsets and communicate with the talent behind those skillsets. Reliance on online labor marketplaces and freelance networks will grow by 96% within the next two years.
  • Automated B2B networks (i.e., business networks) are not typically known as outlets for talent, however, with the emergence of complex contingent labor (SOW-based labor and professional services), these networks have become an ideal means for engaging high-level talent and automating the often-understated spend management processes within the typical CWM program (i.e., invoice-to-client capabilities). Business networks, in particular, can play an active role in helping an enterprise source its professional services in a more controlled and educated manner. Ardent expects utilization of networks as a talent source to increase by 95% by 2016.
  • “Human Cloud” solutions, which include “crowdsourcing,” have often been seen as an alternative, problem-solving outlet (i.e., “How can our enterprise cheaply source global insights for a small fee?”). However, enterprises are now (albeit at a small clip) looking to the “Human Cloud” as a way to quickly leverage innovation and talent via other firms’ technologies and employees. This advanced notion of crowdsourcing can be a cost-effective means of tapping into the mind-power of talent around the world on a virtual and consistent basis. This avenue, expected to grow by over 400%over the next couple of years, is a real representation of the “future” of non-traditional talent’s impact and global reach.

These are just a few of the features cited in Ardent Partners’ State of Contingent Workforce Management research report. Tune in to CPO Rising later this week when we’ll feature Part II of this series.

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