The role of the contingent workforce manager is vastly different from that of prior years, and still continues to change. More representation from HR within management programs, new channels to attract talent, improved usage of data and legal challenges are just some of the shifts managers are adapting to.

‘Holistic’ approach, HR partnerships

To accommodate the evolving workforce environment, companies are increasingly moving contingent labor program management departments to HR from procurement or operations divisions, strengthening the relationship and involvement between talent acquisition and HR. Historically, HR has owned the permanent workforce and contingent labor has been under procurement’s domain. However, with contingent labor playing an increasing role in the world of work, HR is now taking a leadership role in managing the flexible workforce.

Martin Thomas is head of workforce strategy at Philips, which began as a lighting firm but has since diversified into multiple areas. He oversees a contingent labor program that includes 5,500 contingent workers across 24 different countries. In 2017, Philips switched ownership of its contingent labor to HR from procurement, which Thomas says enables it to think about the total workforce “holistically rather than in silos,” with a combined strategy for both the internal and the external workforce and an employee value proposition that includes its external workforce, or contingent workers. It has gone from building an employment value proposition, or EVP, to building an “assignment value proposition,” or AVP, he explains.

Lisa Zak is director, strategic sourcing – contingent labor and HR, at Medtronic. The medical device manufacturer counts about 86,000 employees as well as a contingent workforce of about 26,000 globally. Zak, whose program at Medtronic operates under procurement, agrees it is now important that contingent programs be “in step” with HR and talent acquisition divisions. “I think that if you look at the contingent workforce being a quarter of the population at Medtronic, as an organization we need to put this in our strategic workforce plans and not ignore 25% of the workforce when we are planning in our cycle,” she said. “I think that financially, and also from a talent market perspective, the future will be more hand-in-hand work between TA and HR and our contingent labor program – possibly creating more of a ‘talent concierge’ model where there is duel access between our FTE hiring and our contingent labor hiring.”

Data, data, data

One of the most beneficial items that have been added to managers’ tool belts is the availability of data. vendor management systems have been producing data for 15 to 20 years, but programs can now use that data to create “actionable intelligence,” according to Zak. “I feel that most recently organizations are looking at that data differently, for trends or AI or ways to make better business decisions or to create strategic workforce mix models from that data.” If used correctly, the information gleaned enables companies to weigh out their internal versus external cost models to find a modeling conversion “tipping point” to define whether a hire should be a contingent or full-time employee.

“I think that is really probably the most exciting part of what we are doing now today as a whole in the industry,” Zak says. “Taking that data and creating actionable intelligence from it.”

Next week’s article will discuss sourcing strategies and legislative challenges today’s program managers are tasked with.

Nominate your Game Changer

The role of the contingent program manager is dynamic, and successful ones know it takes continuous innovation and adaptation to succeed. Staffing Industry Analysts is accepting nominations for the 2019 CW Program Game Changers list, which recognizes those program leaders on the forefront of the industry. Monday, July 15, is the last day to submit nominations for this year’s list.