Contingent workforce managers last year  grappled with talent pools, chatbots, IC compliance issues and more. But 2020 will undoubtedly bring additional changes — some beneficial and some challenging. Forward-thinking managers should prepare to weather any potential storms and hopefully turn headwinds into opportunities.
Here are a few of the top trends Staffing Industry Analysts’ CWS Council leaders expect could impact the industry in 2020.
Brexit: Brexit went into effect Jan. 31, but that date was just the start of a transition period and the beginning of the next stage of trade negotiations. For the time being — until the end of the year and possibly into 2021 — EU citizens’ ability to travel and work in the UK, and the rights of UK citizens working abroad, are not going to change. However, CW managers need to prepare. “Buying organizations should be planning for a number of eventualities, hedging their bets on the most likely outcome,” says Peter Reagan, SIA’s senior director, CWS and research.
US election: This year’s US presidential election will also impact and influence the industry. “History shows that during an election year companies will hold back on spending due to the uncertainty of who will be elected into office and which party will take control of the House and the Senate,” says Dawn McCartney, VP of the CWS Council. This is particularly true for organizations that support the government or have government contracts.
Recession: Forty-five percent of global staffing firms expect a recession this year, according to survey results  released last month by staffing firm software provider Bullhorn. This figure is up from 30% in last year’s survey. Keep an eye on the revenue growth of your staffing partners, which will provide a leading indicator of economic trends, and test your “business continuity” to prepare for any outcomes. “Just put some theories out there,” Reagan advises. Examine what would happen in some “what if” scenarios to make sure you are ready for whatever may come.
Regulatory changes: California and the UK in 2019 launched a trend of states and countries putting more focus on worker classification. Last year brought AB 5, California’s legislation that makes it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors. In addition, the UK has focused on its IR35 off-payroll working rules, which are scheduled to extend in April to private-sector businesses using independent contractors. “As we look forward into 2020, what these two regulatory changes are doing is really signaling what we should expect is a sweeping change across other areas,” says Chris Paden, SIA’s director, CWS and research. Hints of their influence are already seen in Canada and the Northeast US, as well as other areas of the globe.
Background checks: Background and drug screenings and will be under increased scrutiny this year. Marijuana recently became legalized in many states and Canada, creating confusion over what employers can and cannot prohibit, while “ban the box” legislation has altered rules about criminal background checks in some jurisdictions. Make sure screenings do not include anything that is prohibited and be aware of possible rule changes down the road; keep your stakeholders aligned as well. “You are going to have to be up-to-date on everything, but also going to have to be the advocate that is out there educating everyone within your organization,” McCartney says.
Vendor management system transformation: Expect to see VMS’s expand into workforce management tools. Buyers are becoming more sophisticated and seeking visibility into their entire workforces, including full-time workers as well as non-employees. Additionally, some new VMS players are already pushing the envelope, offering a more wholistic view of talent than traditional VMS organizations have typically provided.
Look for more trends affecting CW programs in the next issue of CWS 3.0 .