It seems like only yesterday, not a full three months ago, that I was discussing the longer-term implications of initial workforce decisions made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fast forward to mid-June, and through our ongoing discussions and peer-group meetings with CWS Council members, we have witnessed organizations moving from response, to stabilization, to adaption. Now, the focus has shifted to re-normalization, and program optimization to support a new way of working. How are your vendors faring?

Unique opportunity. For many workforce program managers, particularly those with an external MSP, the last few months have presented a unique opportunity to evaluate supplier relationships and performance. With contingent programs thrown into the spotlight, workforce solutions partners have been truly tested, from the efficacy of business continuity plans and the ability to manage multiple (and difficult) communications at scale, to implementation of remote on- and offboarding solutions, and, in some sectors, rapid scaling of volume recruitment campaigns while testing emerging concepts such as automation.

For some providers though, processes that previously masked a lack of technology investment, or poor delivery structure, were laid bare for all to see.

As you consider moving toward optimization, recent provider performance is likely to have either validated existing confidence in the partnership or amplified existing concerns, perhaps leading to the conclusion that the time is right to consider alternative providers, or even new service models.

Recent performance. In May, we conducted a global survey of workforce managers to gauge actions taken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, preparations for the longer-term response, and the perception of the contribution made by a range of workforce solutions providers. We asked participants about the contribution made by their MSP to their Covid-19 measures.

The perception of MSP support ranged from extremely reactive: “no contribution; they’ve taken direction from us,” to extremely proactive, with participants describing their MSP as “extremely helpful,” “critical” and “instrumental.” Flexibility and adaptability were two further qualities called out by workforce managers. In which group does your workforce solutions partner reside?

Investment impact. For the most agile and responsive MSPs, their investment has had an impact. Thirty-six percent of survey respondents said that their MSP’s business continuity plan implementation was “extremely effective” and 24% are more likely than before to recommend their MSP as a result of their support during the pandemic.

If your post-pandemic goals include adaption and optimization to meet future workforce needs, then perhaps now is the time to assess if your supplier ecosystem is ready for the challenge. If you are fortunate enough to work with a provider who has been indispensable, perhaps now is the time to further invest in the relationship and push the envelope in what you can achieve together.