Changing Trade Winds in Talent: Where We’ve Been and Making Sense of Where We’re Going

158757957Over the last two decades, the traditional staffing supplier and MSP/VMS models have collectively matured and efficiencies and savings have been captured and continue to provide necessary value.  Over that same period, the traditional sourcing channels have remained relatively unchanged and have experienced ongoing downward pricing pressure to the point of diminishing return.  The new macroeconomic “normal” and the increasing competition for talent make it inevitable that enterprise workforce managers will pursue new vectors of value and efficiency. Disintermediating models which include Talent Cloud Solutions, Freelancer Management Systems (FMS), internally managed Direct Sourcing programs, and other more “direct” options are the logical avenues.

Workforce managers are hungry for innovative ways to more directly tap into the talent universe that exists outside of traditional supplier channels. As an enterprise consumer of talent, the challenge is obtaining the enhanced access and the lifts in efficiency and savings from disintermediation while effectively navigating the necessary change.  In addition to the obvious necessary adjustments we won’t delve into here, they fear the “law of unintended consequences” category might produce less than desirable effects on traditional sourcing channels that comprise the very foundation of their programs.


Shift in Power

In conjunction with this marketplace reality, the center of power in the labor marketplace is steadily transferring from the demand side to the supply side with the candidate increasingly more in control of their destiny and personal/professional “brands.” Meanwhile, Political/Legal, Economic, Social/Cultural, and Technological factors are simultaneously the motivation for and the enablers of new ways of engaging in work.  These factors combined with shifting generational attitudes make today’s worker quick to adapt to and adopt new channels and platforms for connecting with work opportunities.

Not only have they NEVER been “owned” by any of the market intermediaries or hiring organizations, now workers collectively know it. Post-boomers are also highly interested in workstyles better aligned with lifestyle with distinction between the two increasingly blurred. They value mobility – between jobs, companies, and geographies – more than the steadily diminishing value propositions of traditional employment arrangements. Taking all of this into account, it is safe to assume that a structural shift in the marketplace is well underway and is only just in its infancy.

The Ecosystem Era

The reality is that the marketplace IS changing and every participant in it will eventually adapt and assume new or substantially evolved roles within it. Like many other markets, the collision of the aforementioned factors enabled by technology has created a shift from the historically more linear, monolithic marketplace to a complex ecosystem of channels, service providers, and technologies. In the years to come, the most successful approaches – whether you are a consumer of talent or one of its suppliers/enablers – will be predicated on effectively harnessing ecosystem models or the ability to consume the output/capabilities these new models offer.

For those traditional industry participants who are willing and able to adjust, there will always be a place in this new paradigm. Whether through morphing into ecosystem hubs themselves or discovering new ways to partner with and participate in ecosystems, their expertise will continue to represent value for the talent and the enterprise if properly re-focused.

Systems Thinking and Holistic Sourcing

Resulting from the various pressures facing the enterprise and changes in the macro environment, a number of new ideas and players have sprung up in the talent acquisition space offering services and technologies designed to deliver more direct, focused and efficient access to talent. Many of them focus on providing a more direct, self-service type path to talent but are aimed at very specific labor segments or narrow slices of work types and durations. And most of them are technology or online marketplace only with minimal “curation” of and interaction with the talent that resides within their networks.

These platforms are becoming part of the talent sourcing spectrum necessary for a holistic strategy which affords a wide variety of talent and engagement modes. By incorporating an entire palette of sources, enterprise companies will be able to minimize gaps and maximize flexibility in their sourcing efforts and talent engagement. Thinking not only outside but also above the traditional HR and supply chain boxes, ideas such as internal sourcing of full-time candidate “silver medalists” for contingent roles will become more common and necessary as the concept of workforce management becomes more total in nature.

It is in the context of this paradigm that the concept of Direct Sourcing, wherein the enterprise taps into the pool of past contingent workers, becomes a more realistic proposition as a part of a holistic approach.  Technology plus service solutions (including ours here at Genesys) are emerging which aggregate the full sourcing spectrum and provide an environment for current, past, and potential talent to both maintain a professional brand and connect with the whole range of work opportunities and types.

Making It Work

Ultimately, the challenge will be accessing, organizing, and consuming the spectrum of sources in an intelligent and cohesive way that maintains compliance and provides visibility within the managed program structure of most large enterprises. Certainly, the MSPs and VMSs will continue to play a critical role as hubs/integration points for these new talent sources in addition to the field of traditional staffing and recruiting suppliers. As the landscape of emerging technology and service providers unfolds, success will depend largely on the ability of the ecosystem to manage workflow and data hand-offs and integrations. The good news is that established players, like IQNavigator, who understand their role as that potential ecosystem hub are already showing a keen interest in doing just that. It will be quite interesting to see which organizations make the evolutionary leap and how.


Genesys is extremely excited about what all this means for the future of the talent acquisition and contingent workforce spaces. If we collectively re-frame our thinking to become more candidate centric and begin to better understand that what is good for the candidate IS what’s best for the hiring organization, great things will happen. As a result, we will see an unprecedented degree of worker mobility and the kind of marketplace fluidity that the flexible workforce model has sorely needed since its inception.

MORE: Why your CW program isn’t growing

Adam Gould

Adam Gould
Adam Gould is VP of brand experience for Genesys, a candidate focused innovator in the Talent Cloud space.

Adam Gould

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