The contingent workforce talent penetration rate — the percent of the total workforce that comprises contingent workers — averages 20% or more, and in some industries, it’s as high as 30% to 40% of an entire organizational workforce. As such, an organization’s engagement brand— the perceptions in the marketplace around what contingent workforce talent or staffing providers believe when deciding whether to take or make that placement at a specific organization — has become even more critical.

Many factors can affect that brand. For instance, one negative tweet or Facebook post can go viral, sinking a company’s image in the contingent workforce marketplace, for example. Fair or not, true or not, market perceptions are being established aggregately, by key CW program market stakeholders on where is the best place to engage contingent work. If this can be so easily done for restaurant, hotel or dental service marketplace reputations, why not for the engagement of contingent talent?

In the past, mature CW program management did what it took to provide a positive impact to their program’s brand image to try and ensure internal stakeholders adopted it. But today, a CW program’s engagement brand strategy must extend outside the organization as well, because the engagement brand can greatly affect an organization’s employment brand and the company brand overall.

Candidate experience. Organizations have always invested in and managed their company brand and image. Realizing there was an intersection of brand management when engaging talent, many organizations invested in their employment brand related to full-time traditional talent sourcing as well — during highly sensitive and stressful recruitment processes, there naturally would be many candidates failing to secure employment but who are or could be consumers of the companies’ products. There are only so many job positions to go around. Hence, candidate disposition, the disposing of a failed candidate at any stage of the recruitment process, has a larger significance than just executing a recruitment step.

Trying you out. Now, a significant number of quality, impactful CW talent, aided by knowledgeable market recruiters, are deciding where to work, and more and more of that decision-making relies upon an organization’s CW engagement brand. For example, in most local markets, informed, professional recruiters and staffing providers know the good, the bad and the ugly. They know which enterprise organizations have poor work environments for contingent talent, if not by social media rumors, certainly by ongoing transaction data on early engagement terminations and injured CW talent. Additionally, CW talent engagements provide an intimate transaction of the “try and buy” methodology — but that mindset goes both ways. In this situation, it’s the marketplace of talent and staffing provider recruiters judging whether organizations in the marketplace are worthy places to work. A turn of the table certainly, but a growing reality in today’s tight labor markets.

So an enterprise’s CW engagement brand management efforts need to enhance program capability in order for the program to deliver quality talent in a cost-effective manner. This will become an even more fundamental requirement for CW programs executing total talent acquisition strategies that will rely on an organization’s engagement brand reputation.

CW talent, staffing providers and their recruiters have always anecdotally understood where to place certain, highly qualified resources. Today, CW program management needs a brand strategy that convinces CW talent and staffing providers/recruiters that their organization is the CW engagement workplace of choice in the marketplace.

Here are some key considerations when thinking through a CW engagement brand management strategy.

  • A CW engagement brand has both internal and external perspectives; hence, damage and/or support of a CW engagement brand can occur from either direction. There are multiple stakeholder, satisfaction viewpoints to consider.
  • A CW engagement brand can be affected by multiple types of CW engagements beyond staff augmentation: statement of work, independent contractor, or even silver-medalist (runner-up) talent experiences.
  • A CW engagement brand is a CW program capability that needs to be formally established (with a program name, for example) and nurtured with ongoing policy and process execution awareness.
  • A CW engagement brand is now an impactful component of the organization’s employment and company brands.
  • Staffing providers and contingent workers are significant contributors to an organization’s marketplace brand reputation.
  • Engagement managers are significant contributors in making a positive or negative impact on one’s CW engagement brand.
  • A CW engagement brand is a critical component in delivering cost-effective and high-quality talent to a CW program operation.
  • A well-established CW engagement brand will be a strategic tool/capability in executing a total talent acquisition strategy.
  • A poor, non-established CW engagement brand will have a visible, negative impact on an organization’s employment brand.
  • High-quality talent will not engage organizations with poor CW engagement brands that are neither proactively nor formally managed.