SIA’s analysts and the CWS Council advisory team have conversations with managers of major contingent workforce programs daily, helping them work through ongoing program concerns as well as the significant challenges wrought by the pandemic. They provide through CWS 3.0 their insights to help program managers keep their organizations compliant and competitive.

Here are the significant topics of interest to program owners in 2021, including insights provided.

Misclassification — staff aug. The term “misclassification” doesn’t just apply to independent contractor versus employee status. Contingent workforce programs also are concerned about misclassification of roles that should be staff augmentation because improper classification can lead to significant costs. Frank Enriquez, senior manager of contingent workforce strategies and research, discusses the common elements behind staff aug misclassification in this June article.

Worker classification tug of war. Tug of war is a popular game during which teams pulling on opposite ends of a rope try pull each other to their side. It’s an ancient game that still keeps children engaged. Quite a different  tug of war is being played out in our ecosystem, Enriquez wrote. Some enterprise buyers set requirements and preferences for engaging talent — restricting the classification of workers as independent contractors — while the talent itself pulls in a different direction, wanting to remain independent. Winning might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

The baker’s dozen. Cost management has always been a high priority for the contingent workforce program manager, regardless of the economy. Stephen Clancy, senior director of contingent workforce strategies, knowledge and research, wrote that as companies start emerging from the effects of the pandemic, we will find numerous job openings and not enough people to fill them. Because sourcing contingents will play a big role in any relevant sourcing strategy, any cost management measures must be sensibly balanced against quality, efficiency and risk management performance concerns. In this two-part series, Clancy detailed a bakers’ dozen list of cost management practices.

Tenure policies — they are a-changin’. Tenure policies have been a tool used by programs for more than two decades as they were an early response by the industry to the so-called Microsoft permatemp case in the late 1990s. The efficacy of the policy to mitigate classification risk has been hotly debated since, but now, buyers are using tenure policies less often as a risk-mitigation tool, and more as a contingent workforce program talent resource management strategy tool, Clancy wrote. But as those policies change and workers serve longer terms, other management challenges come to light. He discussed a few.

The direct sourcing rising star.  Direct sourcing has become one of the most popular conversations in the contingent workforce industry, and as such, one of the most popular topics of the year. Chris Paden, director of contingent workforce strategies and research (the Americas), penned a series of articles dedicated to the direct sourcing concept. Starting with “An evolving concept,” which introduced the series, Paden moved on to discuss several emerging strategies that can be leveraged independently or collectively to provide the most accurate return. From there, he detailed various technologies that are emerging and how they can add value to your business.

Peter Reagan, senior director, contingent workforce strategies and research, got in on the action with “Defining a new wave,” in which he explained direct sourcing now is all about using the client’s brand and a technology platform to invite potential candidates to a private talent pool.

The future of onboarding. Onboarding employees has always been a critical business function. After all, it’s the company’s opportunity to make an impression on the worker. Amid Covid-19, however, it has taken on even greater significance given that remote onboarding is still uncharted territory for many. Peter Reagan, senior director, contingent workforce strategies and research, kicked off the year with this article about the process, based on an engaging podcast appearance.

Gig worker protections. Europe explores social, other protections. In February, the European Commission began its consultation on the rights of gig economy workers whose labor is governed by digital platforms. The intention is to establish “the need and direction of possible EU action to improve the working conditions in platform work.”  The conundrum for regulators is to find a way to ensure that the competing interests of technical innovators, workers and the customers they serve are all satisfied without undue harm and with enough flexibility to adapt to a future we can’t predict, wrote Fiona Coombe, director of legal and regulatory research.

Vaccine conundrum. All year, vaccine policies and news dominated readers’ interest. Fiona Coombe, director of legal and regulatory research, addressed common questions buyers pose as we awaited the Emergency Temporary Standard, or ETS, from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While the ETS has since been published — and subsequently put on hold amid court challenges — buyers still must be prepared to  manage the consequences of imposing the vaccine mandate, should it survive.