Companies view risk differently when it comes to their contingent workforce. The risks CW programmes seem prepared to take can be country-specific, with many of them being risk-averse in more developed countries or they can also be industry specific with banking and finance being more risk-averse than the IT and telecommunications industry amongst others. As suppliers, however, you understand compliance is an important part of any contingent workforce programme, and you have to get your clients on board. And a total talent management strategy can help.

Wherever companies are on the risk spectrum, they still share some common traits. For one, many do not have visibility into their overall workforce. According to our recent report, “Total Talent Management,” produced in partnership with ERE Media, 20% to 30% of organisations do not know how many workers they have overall, nor the number of open positions, tenure or total labour costs. Of the organisations that did know, 62% use independent contractors or consultants/freelancers.

This lack of visibility can result in many negative consequences, and this is where you come in. You can help clients plan well in advance by developing their strategic workforce plan, as opposed to reacting to situations and putting out fires as they appear. A way to do that is to drive the total talent management solution as your clients more than likely do not yet see the benefits of adopting such an approach to their workforce requirements.

AUDIT. One good way to get them going in the right direction is to conduct a compliance audit for them, starting with current contingent workers working via your company with the end client. These audits should include: How many contractors/non-permanent staff do they have on their books, in what countries are they working and do they have the required work permits/visas? Are the workers correctly registered to pay tax and social costs where the work is being performed? If not why? Are the workers working directly through you or a third party contractor management or umbrella company? Do the workers have the correct insurances in place relating to the area they are working and their particular role and risk? And finally, where is the biggest potential risk based on this information?

Thorough, honest responses will benefit all parties, especially where you have contingent workers operating via a third party, because it will enable you to review your supplier base at the same time. After conducting this exercise on your own portion of the client’s programme, review the rest of the programme. The client’s VMS provider, if they have one, should be able to help.

EXPANSION PLANS. You can also discuss your client’s geographic expansion plans and whether you can offer a service in the target countries yourself or via a contractor management supplier. Be prepared to advise your clients of the countries where it will be easier for them to move into. Staffing Industry Analysts corporate members can use SIA’s “Most Attractive Staffing Markets Globally” report in this discussion.

There will be growing pains that come from implementing a TTM risk strategy, including:

ADOPTION. Our TTM report revealed nearly half the HR and executive leadership were indifferent or not interested. A decision will need to be made regarding who is ultimately responsible for driving the change — HR, procurement, or a new function combining both? Suppliers need to drive the change with their client’s appointed leadership, as many of you are actively preparing products and services to support the TTM approach.

SYSTEMS AND OPERATIONS. Clients will eventually need to better integrate ATS and VMS technologies, however, companies may use different systems in various countries. This will need careful consideration when moving forward, as capabilities may vary by region. Operations and processes may also vary, and any acquisitions that take place will lead to further barriers to seeing the full talent picture. There are many more, however, this purely gives an indication of the challenges to be faced. Clients generally take risks due to insufficient data and lack of workforce planning. There are those who like to bury their heads in the sand. Don’t let a client pressure you into doing the wrong thing. Do your due diligence and help your clients understand the benefits of total talent management. In the long run, this could prove lucrative and pay dividends.