Last week, I discussed eight of the predictions the CWS Council team and I made for the new year and what steps contingent workforce managers can take to prepare for them. Here are seven more trends we expect to see this year, along with six that narrowly missed the cut but are still of considerable importance to program managers.

The CWS Council team comprises:

  • Stephen Clancy, senior director, contingent workforce strategies, knowledge and research
  • Frank Enriquez, senior manager, contingent workforce strategies and research
  • Dawn McCartney, VP, Contingent Workforce Strategies Council
  • Chris Paden, director of contingent workforce strategies and research (Americas)
  • Peter Reagan, senior director, contingent workforce strategies and research

Here are our remaining predictions.

9. Platformitization

The projection: “There is an interesting movement in the staffing industry toward “Everything as a Service.” Buyers are starting to ask the question whether they need a service or a technology to solve their needs. Smart providers are integrating both approaches to find a more balanced way to engage” — Paden

Action: Educate yourself and the business as to the capability potential of technologies being developed to integrate multiple platforms and enhance the valuable role that humans can play. Be careful not to get carried away by sales and marketing speak and by the technology itself. Focus on what the technology can do for you… short, medium and potentially longer term. Consider how you will investigate which platforms are right for you and who might be the right technology partners going forward. Start to do this early in 2022 in order to avoid being left behind once the late majority of adopters takes place (I predict in 2023-24); otherwise, you may end up becoming a laggard — and it’s often difficult to catch up from that position!

10. Talent Sourcing Channel Diversification

The projection: “Alternate talent sourcing channels have taken a strategic foothold in many CW programs. The only question that remains will be the adoption speed and ultimate channel diversification mix CW programs execute to meet program stakeholders’ evolving CW service requirements.” — Clancy

Action: This year will see more advancements in technology that will allow easier and more seamless decisions around how work gets done and which sourcing channel is most optimal: full-time employee, part-time employee, fixed-term employee, intern, staff augmentation, freelance/gig work, SOW project or service, managed capacity, outsourced, or even robots/bots/drones and others. So, start to build a framework, within which you consider additional talent sourcing channels than your program does currently. At minimum, in 2022, begin to map out how you will do this during 2023 rather than simply delaying it!

11. New Approaches to Job Ads and Résumés

The projection: “Times are changing – talent will be showcasing their brand via social media (TikTok résumés) and employers cannot depend only on their brand to attract the talent.” — McCartney

Action: Start to think how your organization will adapt to a situation where you must chase the talent rather than rely on your brand to entice the talent to chase you! I have often said that “if you can think it, then it will likely happen…somewhen.” I believe that as technology enables the humans to play a more important and critical role in performing work that only humans can, then organizations need to predict how this new breed of talent (who, don’t forget, might be needed for critical roles that don’t even exist yet), will market themselves and how you are going to identify, engage and retain this talent. Preparing for these types of scenarios should start in 2022.

12. Disruption of Market Rates

The projection: “The pandemic and the Great Resignation have created difficulty for CW programs to deliver the right talent, on time at the right price. These disruptions will continue for at least the next year. Programs need to have an all-encompassing talent pricing strategy to be able to compete for the best talent.” — Enriquez

Action: This is related to the candidate-led marketplace. Stop wishing that contingent worker rates were not so high and that the people you required to do work are simply waiting for you to ask them to start on Monday! The current pressures are likely to continue for at least the first three quarters of 2022, so programs need to model various scenarios based on increased pricing; lack of availability of suitable talent; or redefining where, how and even if work needs to be done during these challenging times.

13. Shifting MSP Service Models

The projection: “Unique times call for unique solutions. Buyers are starting to think beyond the core MSP services and look for new ways to add value. SOW management, direct sourcing and resource management/compliance services will start to gain market share as organizations look to evolve into the next iteration of their program.” — Paden

Action: I believe that the standard MSP service has become substantially commoditized over the years, with providers continually  required to deliver enhanced services at a lower cost. Automation has assisted this greatly and maintained profitability for these standard MSP services and we are already seeing enhanced offerings such as consulting being provided by MSPs, as well as bringing new technologies (either developed or in partnership), to their current and potential customers. In 2022, program owners should continue to educate themselves around the entire workforce solutions ecosystem and engage in regular and focused strategic conversations with their MSPs as to what enhanced and value-added services they can bring as a trusted partner.

14. The Staffing Supplier and Recruiter Evolution

The projection: “The days of recruiters and their historic roles and responsibilities are changing quickly. With incredible advancements in artificial intelligence and platform technologies, recruiters will become a thing of the past. Look for these roles to be more focused on relationship management.” — Enriquez

Action: There is a shortage of traditional recruiters at the moment. Is this because many of the traditional functions of the recruiter are in a transition period towards automation? Maybe we are not ready for the new breed of recruiter who will significantly add the value that only a human can provide? I believe that we will soon come full circle. Back in the early 1990s, I had a recruiter working for me who was so incredibly valuable because she had such in-depth knowledge of a wide range of contingent workers that our customers needed. She could identify people in a flash, far quicker than our database and chasing could ever do. This skill will soon become, once again, the enhanced value of the human recruiter. Start to think in 2022 about the role, skill set and needs of the NEW recruiter and how you will engage and retain them as they will be key to delivering the talent your organization needs to succeed.

15. SOW Management

The projection: “More than a decade ago, buyer organizations began to pursue the formalized management of SOW spend. There have been many challenges to formally managing SOW.  Over the next year, we will see an increase in spend management specific to SOW throughout the CW staffing industry. Look for a 10% to 20% increase in SOW spend under management over the next 12 months.” — Enriquez

Action: If statement of work — for the outsourcing of either projects and/or services — is even remotely on your radar, make sure that the first thing that you do in 2022 is to define what statement of work is and more importantly, what it is not. Avoid the grey area of mixing staff augmentation, statement of work and independent contractors and clearly put these types into their own buckets. I agree that we will see a significant increase of SOW spend under management during 2022, but this must be correctly classified SOW … it can’t just be called SOW! Also, as part of your 2022 planning to get this category of spend under control, focus NOT on cost savings but on visibility. Most importantly, get to understand the extreme complexities of this category … maybe by treating yourself to one of our SOW Management Expert Certification classes!

Honorable Mentions

Six items that narrowly missed out making the top 15 but are still of particular interest in 2022:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion. Achieving DE&I is a long-haul effort, and one companies can’t afford not to continue to pursue. With the contingent workforce being vital to organizations’ success, program managers must get DE&I on their strategic roadmap during 2022.
  • Total talent acquisition technology M&A. Investors have been keen on technology, and TTA tech is no exception. In 2022, keep up with M&A developments and their potential impact on your program, especially where your current or potential technology partners are involved in M&A activity.
  • Total talent. Get the concept of total talent onto your program’s roadmap. Even if it’s likely to be out of scope for the next few years, it should still be on your program’s roadmap, regularly reconsidered and conscious actions taken to delay if necessary. At least you will be making more informed decisions to postpone this initiative to a later date rather than simply avoiding the topic altogether.
  • Planning for the end of the pandemic. Covid-19 will one day be in the rear-view mirror, but its lessons for workforce managers will be enduring. Plan for three to four post-pandemic scenarios and how you will thrive in any of these new steady states.
  • Direct sourcing. This has been a significant trend in the last couple of years and we don’t expect buyers to ease up on their plans. Similar to total talent above, get direct sourcing onto your roadmap. Some people believe that 50% of the contingent workforce globally will be sourced directly in five years.
  • Redefining the value of centralization. Early in contingent workforce management, centralization was sold as a means to save money. However, there are numerous business reasons to centralize program management across the quality, efficiency, cost and risk framework. In 2022, model the quantifiable benefits of centralized governance that will achieve market competitiveness, profitability and shareholder value and for the overall enterprise.