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7th January 2019

Talent supply chain trends 2019

Improving direct access, addressing process inconsistencies and removing technological barriers are among the trends that will shape the contingent talent market in 2019.

Organisations recognise access to an on-demand, flexible pool of talent is no longer a ’nice to have’ but strategic imperative. With demand and supply issues intensifying, and continued productivity concerns, businesses must address this growing area of spend with the same vigour previously applied to permanent workers.

Here are the top contingent talent supply trends for 2019:

1. Tightening of contingent talent pools increases non-permanent worker expectationsWhilst numerous reports indicate increasing demand for contingent talent, supply is reducing. According to the Edelman Intelligence report, commissioned by the online freelancer marketplace Upwork and the Freelancers Union, there were 600,000 fewer workers in the freelance pool in 2018.

As gig workers recognise their worth and unionise to assert employment law rights, those who can create a “client of choice” brand that attracts and retains talent by adding more value than just providing a gig, will be best placed to succeed.

2. Streamlining processes for gig workers is a top priorityAs organisations increasingly recognise the strategic value of having access to flexible talent, it is fast becoming clear that the basic mechanics of contingent workforce management are not working as well as they could be. In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, only 19% of respondents track their worker’s compliance with work contracts.

A growing cost area, businesses need to understand their contingent workforce policies, process and best practices. Standardising and optimising processes, as the world of non-permeant work moves so much faster than the standard permanent recruitment process the best workers will be snapped up fast, and what is the most cost effective way of engaging someone for one project or requirement may not be the most efficient for another.

3. Digital will transform the P2P processAs the tools become able to deal with the complex scenarios posed by matrix organisations, companies will increasingly adopt AI and machine learning technologies in their contingent workforce processes in 2019 to gain further process efficiencies, eliminating the reliance on HR for approvals and decisions. Particularly as blockchain becomes more mainstream and provides the ability to easily track and trace transactions.

4. Integrations key to technological successWhilst the talent technology ecosystem continues to create new opportunities for attracting, engaging and tracking talent, organisations are hitting major barriers in business adoption due to lack of integrations. We expect this to continue in 2019, with many repetitive tasks replaced by automation, however this does come with challenges.

Implementing new platforms alongside existing legacy systems has left organisations at best with clunky, inefficient processes that deliver a poor user experience, at worst it has left them unable to use core functionality in new technology.

In 2019, organisations must focus on their full technology ecosystem and tools that connect in order drive value, shifting technology investment focus from cost savings to investments that improve candidate and hiring manager experience.

5. HR to take a leading role in non-permanent talent 2018 saw a pronounced shift in terms of who “owns” the contingent workforce within organisations. Whilst in the past organisations have suffered from fragmented governance models, and manual systems and processes as hiring managers were largely responsible for their own temporary talent requirements, today procurement teams have begun to optimise the talent supply chain.

However, in 2019 as organisations increasingly shift their focus to attracting the right talent, regardless of worker type, HR and Talent Acquisition will take a more prominent role, bringing their expertise in creating and messaging their Employer Value Propositions, talent pooling, cultural, skills, and other forms of assessments and onboarding and development to create more engaged workers.

6. Big data will improve with contextOrganisations are waking up to the fact that one talent measure or KPI is simply a data point, and cannot be used without understanding the context in which it arises. Today's data comes from multiple sources, including external labour market data, which makes it difficult to link and see the true picture. However, to turn data in to insight it’s necessary to connect and correlate relationships, as analysis is where the true value lies.

In 2019 the data of the past won’t be an accurate predictor of the future, and organisations will need to explore predictive-analytics, improved workforce planning in line with business need, external benchmarking and market intelligence too.

7. Talent supply chains will extend In an effort to find and engage the best talent, and with a growing plethora of new ways to engage skills, sourcing in 2019 will go beyond the traditional list of staffing suppliers to include services providers, consulting partners, online staffing solutions, independent contractors and direct sourcing.

In their Statups Redefining Talent Acquisition report Everest note that the demand for hiring quality talent has driven a rise in digital platforms in the candidate and vendor sourcing space, which is perhaps why in Staffing Industry Analyst’s Workforce Buyer Survey 2018 53% of those surveyed expected to explore online staffing platforms within the next two years.

8. Bi-directional feedback will play an ever bigger roleCareer review sites and social media has given everyone the ability to give feedback in a very public way, and in 2019 we think this will play an increasingly prevalent role in contingent workforce attraction.

However, while the way workers evaluate their hiring managers has changed, the way the companies evaluates suppliers and even workers themselves hasn’t evolved at the same pace yet. We predict this will change in 2019, with basic ideas like the balance scorecard use for all suppliers, with metrics that work for more agile approaches such as business value/ end user satisfaction playing a more important role.

9. Workforces increasingly handled globallyChanges in technology and talent are evolving the way we work globally. As a result more businesses are going global when looking at engaging contingent workers. As a workforce solutions provider we’ve seen an increased interest in 2018 in more multi-national contracts and we expect this trend to continue into 2019.

10. Complex legislation will require more stringent, local processesHowever, to caveat this global approach growth, regulation around contingent workers continues to change regularly and varies greatly by country and even within countries, therefore as legislators out more onus on ‘employers’, organisations need to be more alert than ever before about new local regulation implications and the risks they bring in 2019.

For example, in the UK as private sector businesses prepare for IR35 coming in 2020 for medium to large business, 2019 will see businesses putting in assessments to determine worker status to avoid potential penalties in the future. Whilst in the US the issue of independent contractor classification continues to vary, with no single solution gaining significant support.

Download our whitepaper for even more insight on how to optimise your talent supply chain.


Matthew Dickason
Matthew Dickason
Global Managing Director, Hays Talent Solutions

Matthew is the Global Managing Director for Hays Talent Solutions, having joined Hays in 2005. Previous roles held at Hays include Business Director in the UK and Chief Operating Officer for Asia Pacific. He is now responsible for leading the global business of Hays Talent Solutions and investing to ensure clients retain a competitive advantage in talent acquisition from the delivery of Hays MSP, RPO, technology and modular service solutions.

Prior to joining Hays, Matthew worked within Engineering, Research, Operations and Commercial areas at Johnson Matthey and Corning Inc. He has formal qualifications in Organisational Psychology and Industrial Engineering.