Channeling Brand Power into Non-Employee Talent

09/26/2017 03:46 pm ET

As financial capital was once the scarce resource that all executives obsessed about, the paradigm has shifted and that new scarce resource is human capital.

A 2017 book titled “Time, Talent, Energy, Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power” by Bain & Co. Partners discusses how the world’s leading companies gain a huge competitive advantage in productivity just by attracting, retaining, and effectively deploying talented people. The costs associated with not securing the right talent are material; such as vacancy costs (that range from $5-$30K depending on the position), to the cost of a bad hire (approximately 30% of a first-year salary according to the Department of Labor).

Data points link this serve as an example of how essential it is to find the right person for the job, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Yet the war for talent rages on and hinges on the ability to attract and retain talent.

As a result of the 2007 great recession, organizations had to become more flexible. They identified significant growth opportunities in non-employee utilization, which was a ready-made solution for organizations to fight the talent war. It required them to tap into new talent pools and to create flexible work environments as workforce demands changed. Today, most estimates have non-employees at somewhere between 30-50% of the workforce, with most executives planning to increase that number in coming years.


Interestingly enough, it’s not only the market influences on organizations that are driving this phenomena. The millennial generation has shown much more interest in accepting contingent roles that allow them the opportunity to “job hop”, enhance their skillsets, and test different company environments before accepting full-time work. In a recent survey of contingent workers by RightSourcing, Inc. (a subsidiary of PRO Unlimited) indicated that the worker identified “the contingent nature” of the position was important to them (70%). This data shows that organizations that embrace the hiring of contingent workers and actively convert them to full-time are tapping into a talented candidate pool that would otherwise be closed off to them if they only sourced for full-time.

Contingent assignments allow both the organization and the worker to “try before they buy.” Moreover, the data demonstrates that when workers convert to full-time, they produce very high-quality scores (as rated by hiring managers at specified intervals of each assignment).

Today, attracting non-employees remains extremely challenging for many organizations. In top labor markets like San Francisco, CA, organizations are competing with brands such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and many others who hire contingent resources in large numbers. These organizations have invested tremendous amounts of capital, time, and energy to cultivate brand awareness that attracts top-tier talent.


Additionally, competition among employers has escalated way beyond just salary and benefits. It now includes perks such as: geographic flexibility, additional paid time off, parental leave, company atmosphere and culture, work/life balance, etc. With all of these factors to consider, candidates are becoming increasingly sophisticated about how they approach job searches. According to the 2017 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report, more than 75% of job seekers conduct their own company research, 57% are more likely to have previous relationships with employers, and 23% use review sites such as Glassdoor to get a clear picture of an organization before making a connection. Statistics like this suggest it is critical for employers to be able to manage and leverage their brand for talent acquisition purposes.

For non-employee candidates, this information can be even more valuable. Sites such as Glassdoor offer “contractor ratings” where non-employees can rate their work experiences. This has a tremendous impact on how others may view potential job offers. The TalentBoard Report showed that candidates desire three primary objectives from a hiring company:

· A clear understanding of the company culture

· Insight into the employee (or non-employee) experience

· A sense of connection with the employer brand

Not only is it important to have this information available, it needs to be easy to find, and the application process needs to be easy to navigate for non-employees and full- time candidates. It is arguably more important on the non- employee side, where the cost differential between a self- identified contingent worker and an agency-recruited contingent worker could be more than 20% per worker.

Organizations with strong brand names can leverage their market power to attract candidates and direct them to their own Managed Services Provider (MSP), thus driving savings and efficiencies. Some MSPs have even developed new technologies to help their clients attract their own talent using their brand power.

An organization should collaborate with their MSP to actively manage this experience with their non-employee population. Recently, PRO Unlimited, a purely vendor-neutral MSP and Vendor Management Software (VMS) provider, surveyed a large life sciences company’s non-employee workforce about their time spent at the organization. The areas surveyed included: what attracted them to the position, areas of strength, and ways to enhance the worker experience. The survey data collected lead to making some minor changes to policy and procedures, and as a result, this company realized a 9% improvement in their contractor Glassdoor ratings over the following months. This reinforces that companies who are aware of how non-employees view their brand and are actively engaged with their MSP to make improvements are at a distinct competitive advantage in the war for talent.

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