The topic of redeploying, reskilling and onboarding contingent workers remains high on the list of issues for the recruitment market at the moment. In one of my latest interviews with leaders across the profession for the Staffing RecOps podcast, I spoke to Mark Agostinelli, Executive Vice President at The DAVIS Companies.
While Mark’s focus was very much on the US market, much of the sentiment will certainly resonate across other global markets. He talked about having two jobs for every unemployed person and the fact that the labour market is going through a ‘strange’ and difficult period.
In the current environment, we’re seeing the need to redeploy and reskill contingent workers creeping up the priority list for recruiters who are struggling to source the talent they need to fill the growing demand.
And that brings me to my latest question: will we see a future where contingent worker redeployment is common practice for all?
“He who owns the talent, owns the market”
I found this quote from Mark during the podcast a real stand out point. The simple truth, in the current climate, is that those with the skills on their books ready to be deployed at the drop of the hat, will be the ones to win the business. But I would argue that, given the highs of recruitment activity we saw last year, a lot of the approaches employed to manage contingent workers were being carried out in a more reactive, rather than proactive, way.
Now, as we see the market shifting again, the ability to be more strategic is key. Mark talked of the fact that the firm currently redeploys around 20% of its workforce, but strives for more. Others I have spoken to both during the podcast and in general discussions are reporting a similar sentiment of a desire to redeploy more of their workforce to deliver against new and emerging requirements of end-clients.
Contingent worker redeployment is crucial
It’s undeniable that there are labour market shortages being noted across the globe. Ever since pandemic lockdowns began, we’ve been on a trend of limited resources to meet demand. Factories were struggling to source enough temporary staff to deliver against requirements, retailers were facing gaps in seasonal hiring and logistics firms were facing disruption due to a lack of drivers. The issues are more widespread and complex than this but you get my point: skills gaps are an increasingly challenging issue that will not just disappear overnight
That’s why the ability to redeploy, redistribute or reskill resources is more critical today. When you have a tranche of warehouse workers about to finish a project with one end-client, but are struggling to source the logistics experts for another, identifying where some of the original group can be transferred over to fill gaps makes more sense than losing out on an opportunity.
Of course, it’s easy to say that we need to redeploy workers more regularly, but the reality is, it’s not easy. Mark talked of an ‘Amazon delivery’ format of finding and tracking where your talent is operating. While there are complex tools that continue to enter the market, sometimes the simplest can make a big difference – particularly when looking to respond quickly and redeploy someone.
Timing is key in these instances but when you have a significant contractor or contingent worker database to manage, it’s easy for individuals to slip through the net. And going back to my earlier point, if it truly is the case that the business that owns the talent, owns the market, then losing a worker to another firm simply because they reached out at the right time could tip the balance out of your favour.
But we will also need to train recruiters to make sure they not only use the technology to their advantage, but that they are also equipped to thrive in the ever-changing environment. Ten years ago, reskilling contingent workers wasn’t as widely embraced or as highly needed as it is today. Those seasoned professionals who are great at finding the workers with the exact requirements a client need may be brilliant at their job, but if the talent isn’t available to work, they need to adapt. And that’s where embracing redeployment and reskilling will be really valuable.
It is important to also be honest about the feasibility of achieving the ideal redeployment process at scale. I won’t lie, it’s not going to be easy. There will be a need to invest in the right technology, support recruiters in adjusting their mindsets and recognise that no one has all the answers – yet.