Last week’s CWS 3.0 newsletter covered trends that SIA’s advisory team expects will affect the industry and your contingent workforce program this year. Here’s a look at nine more trends poised to affect CW programs in 2021.

Non-traditional services. A challenging market is driving programs to explore new ways to get work done, and organizations will get more creative in how they source and manage talent. “Concepts like direct sourcing are giving service providers a blank canvas to design better strategies than the traditional practices we have leaned on for decades,” says Chris Paden, director of contingent workforce strategies and research.

Technology optimization. As the needs of contingent workforce programs become more complex, organizations that traditionally depended solely upon a vendor management system for their contingent workforce will look to optimize their processes with additional technologies and tools. These could be accessed through their providers or from directly inside their programs. “This means considering analytics tools, process/sourcing automation platforms, talent communities and other micro services applications,” Paden says.

MSP value prop. MSPs will need to re-evaluate and step up to retain their place in the market. And if they don’t, contingent workforce buyers will be tempted to leverage the disruptive and increasingly available technologies to take their programs in-house. “MSPs will continue to be forced to look in the mirror to define a clear value proposition to help improve user experience,” says Frank Enriquez, senior manager, contingent workforce strategies and research, the Americas.

Automation boom. A big disruption will continue to be the automation of processes by buyer organizations, which frees up managers to focus on creative challenges where they can have the most impact. “Manual processes will continue to be limited and/or removed through the use of bots and artificial intelligence, and [recruitment process automation],” Enriquez says.

RFP comfort. More program managers will move forward with new requests for proposals to take advantage of advancements made by both VMS and the MSP providers. But do your homework. “Taking the time to educate yourself on the capabilities and services that are being offered is critical not only for your own knowledge, but to ensure you are providing the best service and value to your program, organization and stakeholders,” says Dawn McCartney, VP, Contingent Workforce Council.

Diversity and inclusion. Events of last year brought the important issue of diversity, equality and inclusion to the forefront. Contingent workforce programs can have a major impact on the DE&I makeup of their organization’s workforce; increased data on the topic and support from internal legal teams will help make this happen. “Diversity strategies have been focused on supplier diversity; going forward, buyer organizations will begin to gain visibility into candidate and worker diversity to create more diversity strategy depth,” Enriquez says.

Employer of choice. With offices closed amid the pandemic and remote work a reality for the foreseeable future, a good location and trendsetting office amenities are no longer enough to attract the best talent. Your employer brand will be even more important when the economy picks up and hiring resumes. Even contingent workers can place reviews on social media sites such as Glassdoor. “Make sure you are aware of any concerns that need to be addressed,” McCartney advises. “If there is anything that needs to be worked on, it’s going to be critical that you address it because great talent is no longer limited to a geographical area.”

Talent-sourcing channel mix. Direct-sourcing, traditional staffing providers, crowdsourcing, internal talent pools, human cloud, statement of work and more. Each is managed differently, so understand all your options, how they work and if you need to spend time, effort and energy to pursue possible expansion. “The transition in a CW program’s talent-sourcing channel mix is going to accelerate, making it an imperative to understand, define and assertively manage the primary sourcing channels of one’s CW talent,” says Stephen Clancy, senior director, contingent workforce strategies, knowledge and research.

Increased IC usage. While buyers may be hesitant to utilize independent contractors, research finds it is the growing population of younger generations’ preferred way to work. In addition, the technology and the building blocks are in place for an increase: platforms, populations and acceptance of remote work. The missing piece is the regulations and co-employment risk. “The workforce and the individual worker’s desire to be an IC will be the major driving force to increase IC utilization, although laws, regulations and buyer policies will continue to try to limit ICs,” Enriquez says.

This article is based on the SIA workforce solutions webinar, “What to Expect in 2021 and Beyond.” A replay of the webinar is available online to CWS Council members.