Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know — and that’s OK. But when it comes to supplying enterprise buyers, it’s imperative that staffing firms know their clients’ current tools and strategies.   

When you are cognizant of your customers’ current technology stacks, their independent contractor compliance strictures or their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, to name just a few, you can better hone your RFP responses or sales approaches.  

In SIA’s 2023 Americas Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey, 133 companies with contingent workforce and/or recruitment process outsourcing programs respond to what they have in place and what they are likely to explore within two years.  

Rising to the top of technologies/services in use or being explored enterprise organizations are vendor management systems that help businesses manage and procure talent through staffing suppliers and other providers. These systems are most widely in use, with 81% of respondents saying they have one in place. Meanwhile, an additional 19% noted they are likely to seriously explore the idea within two years, implying that 100% of companies expect to use a VMS within two years. 

The next-most popular technology/service is independent contractor compliance/payrolling for contingent workers, currently used by 69% of respondents, with an additional 16% likely to consider this seriously.  

Domestic outsourcing on an ongoing basis (e.g., janitorial services), the third-most popular choice among enterprise buyers, appears to have reached its zenith. While nearly two-thirds of respondents, 64%, currently use such services, just 7% are likely to explore it. 

It may not come as a surprise that vendor management systems, payrolling and outsourcing are popular, but what other technologies do your customers wish to explore? Analytics and benchmarking tools are popular with 56% of respondents, followed by online job advertising platforms (52%). There’s a strong appetite to explore all types of talent acquisition technology, with at least 20% of companies expecting to explore seven of the eight other technologies (add graph). 

Another technology that looks set to develop further is talent platforms.  

Talent Platform 

A model that enables specific hirers and freelance workers to enter into, complete and transact work arrangements through a website or other digital platform such as a smartphone. It is essentially (more or less) recruiter-less staffing with the entirety of the transaction, including remuneration facilitated online via a two-sided marketplace of workers and hirers. Unlike staffing, the Talent Platform takes no responsibility for the workers’ tax or social insurance obligations. 

Talent platforms are an effective way to hire remote workers and take advantage of labor arbitrage by sourcing workers in lower-cost labor markets.  

– SIA’s Lexicon

Although just 25% of contingent workforce programs currently use talent platforms, they are very much an up-and-coming trend. According to Staffing Industry Review magazine’s View from Boardroom column in May/June 2022, talent platforms democratize the application process, enable candidates to market their skills directly to employers, and provide employers greater control over and transparency of the hiring process. Whether talent platforms can develop their services to operate at the enterprise level required to function within buyer programs remains to be seen, but the appetite is there among the client base, with 41% planning to seriously explore their use within two years. 

We also asked survey participants what workforce strategies are currently in place in their organization or are likely to be seriously explored within two years. Creating a program for diversity suppliers is the most popular (in place today at 65% of respondents). Including statement of work in the CW program and a program to encourage candidate diversity are also used today by more than 50% of respondents.  

Lesser-deployed strategies attracting the most interest include developing a program to align contingent workers to diversity goals (likely to be explored by 50%) and using a company career site to attract contingent workers or direct sourcing of contingent workers (48% and 40% of respondents). While the latter two factors might appear to exclude staffing firms at first sight, your customers may seek your help and expertise in developing these resources. 

Among staffing strategies, vendor consolidation is the most popular and is expected to grow. Some 61% of responding companies already are engaging the strategy, while another 35% and expect to do so within two years. 

Supplier tiering and trying out new staffing suppliers are used today by more than 50% of respondents. Total talent acquisition, which refers not only to the operational approaches to sourcing, recruiting and engaging talent but also to higher-level strategic considerations of structuring or managing the talent supply chain (i.e., decisions about outsourcing, sourcing geographies, etc.) is in place today at only 16% of participating companies, but 42% expect such a program to be seriously explored within two years. 

For more information about what your clients want and are doing, look to SIA’s Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey: 2023 report, available for the US, Europe and the UK.