SIA’s Collaboration in the Gig Economy: An Erecruit Retrospective

Last week, Erecruit’s Sales and Best Practices teams had the privilege of attending Staffing Industry Analyst’s Collaboration in the Gig Economy conference in Dallas, TX. There were some fantastic keynote and panel discussions about how buyers, staffing suppliers, and technology platforms can work together to shape and support the future of the way people will and want to work. Sara Moss, Tim Quirk, Doug Edwards, and Amy Yackowski sat down for a round table retrospective on what they learned.

What were the top 3 insights you took away from the conference?

Sara:

  • There has been no growth in the number of workers – all growth has been through side gigs and independent workers.
  • Freelancers are most frequently millennials or boomers and either search out freelance purposefully, because they want the flexibility and control or they are reluctant participants, wanting a direct hire arrangement but are unable to find it. The majority of freelancers are not making a full-time living from freelancing, rather they are taking on side gigs to make extra money.
  • Staffing firms are not really feeling threatened by the gig economy at this point. Staffing firms seem confident that they will continue to add value to hiring organizations and will connect with freelancer platforms so that they are able to find top talent and deliver freelancers to their clients when that type of employment model makes the most sense for their clients.

Tim:

  • In addition to Sara’s thoughts, the world economy is shifting from manufacturing-based work to service-based work.  Technology will continue to automate and displace certain types of work.  How can our industry improve the lives of workers during this fundamental shift in the way work is done?

Doug:

  • I heard a genuine outreach from the gig platforms to work closely through staffing collaboration with suppliers, i.e. “we can help you”.

Amy:

  • To piggyback on Sara’s second point, while the #1 reason people chose to work as a freelancer or independent contractor was for flexibility, the majority of individuals (overall) worry about instability. Most are more comfortable with an inflexible, but predictable work structure. Staffing firms should explore ways to offer both flexibility AND predictability to their talent.
  • Client Engagement and improving how staffing firms and online staffing software platforms engage with talent was consistent theme throughout the conference. They expect more, and delivered through the communication method they most prefer – email, text, mobile, social, voice.
  • Adoption and recognition of the benefits of automation in recruiting solutions, through workflow configuration and artificial intelligence, is growing to help minimize the amount of non-productive work recruiters and supporting team members are doing, allowing them to focus on the activities that drive revenue and strategic organizational growth.

What was different from this year compared to last year’s GigE conference?

Sara:

  • I really felt like our understanding of the freelancer space and where it’s going has evolved dramatically since last year. We all seemed a little less unsure and I was really happy to see that the number of attendees increased so much.  One thing that hasn’t changed is all of the confusing terminology that’s being used – I hope we get that sorted over the next year because I think adoption would accelerate if the lingo and message were simplified.

Tim:

  • Agree with Sara.

Doug:

  • Agree. This year’s felt more cooperative, as SIA intended.

In your view, what does collaboration look like in the Gig Economy, across the staffing marketplace?

Sara:

  • I think it’s really interesting that collaboration is in the conference title, and even more compelling when Barry Asin made staffing firms publicly swear to an “I won’t sell my services during this conference” oath. This approach set the tone that all of the attendees – hiring organizations, gig economy-focused vendors and staffing firms – were there to learn and to strategize this emerging marketplace together.

Tim:

  • Staffing companies focused on clients during downturn.  As work changes, how the work gets done and where it gets done is shifting rapidly.  Staffing firms need to embrace workers that get the job done in a quality way vs. being in a chair or warehouse from 9-5.  It’s all about outcomes.

Doug:

  • I think that tools that create stickiness with the candidate community will be key. Gig pulls more workers into the workforce through flexible work arrangements, and the platforms actually do this better than the staffing firms. There seemed to be lots of new tools targeting this area.

Amy:

  • Clients are moving towards a more hybrid model for total talent management with their staffing needs across their workforce – they’re starting to identify that there is a space and opportunity to support multiple sources for talent – internal recruiting, private talent pools (either personally-curated or enabled through other platforms), online staffing solutions, MSP/VMS, and traditional staffing firms. Some are even taking the classification of a worker (W-2, Independent Contractor, Freelancer, Agency worker) out of the equation and just placing the need out into the entire ecosystem to try and find the best talent.

AI continues to be a theme, with interest and adoption among companies growing. Where do you see it’s at in the overall landscape? How and where do you feel it will impact?

Sara:

  • There was a lot of talk about the importance of shortlisting the best candidates for the gig and how difficult that can be to get right. Matching technology, including AI and machine learning, could really help speed adoption of freelancer platforms and challenge staffing firms to up their game in terms of the value-add they offer their clients.

Tim:

  • I feel it’s still early and has a lot of hype, but there will be pockets of repetitive tasks and communication that can be automated using AI.  Matching, screening, short listing and scheduling interviews are all repetitive tasks that will be automated.

Doug:

  • 100% agree with Tim and Sara.

Amy:

  • Completely agree with what Tim and Sara said. While AI is still very much a sexy new idea, the message and approach with many companies is that – at the end of the day – it cannot completely replace a recruiter or account manager. Nurturing and providing a space for them to execute on the human skills no computer can emulate – those will be what will help skyrocket a company’s growth.

The growth of the Gig Economy – rocket ship or slow or steady?

Sara:

  • The Stanford labor economist, Paul Oyer, says slow and steady so I’ll go with what he said.

Amy:

  • I think it’s a mix of both. When you look at the success of companies like Uber and Upwork, you can’t help but think this is not just a fad. People are recognizing that they now have alternatives to a traditional 9-5 and are embracing it more and more. The landscape of the future of work won’t change on a dime – that’s not how our society or economy works – but I also don’t see it taking several years to see significant and continued growth.

What were the most notable quotes heard during the conference?

We are the HR department for the non-full time worker – Teresa Carroll, Executive Vice President, Kelly Services
President, Global Talent Solutions and General Manager – Sales, Marketing and HR

Regarding the War on Talent. The war is over and the talent won –  Bruce Morton, Global Head of Innovation – Allegis Global Solution

The consumerization of work is just getting started – Paul Oyer, Labor Economist/Prof. of Economics – Stanford University

Embrace the ecosystem – Eric Gilpin, SVP Enterprise – Upwork

It’s just a matter of time before [the labor market] moves100% online –  Paul Oyer

Staffing firms, ask yourselves what can you do that Shiftgig and Upwork cannot do that employers will pay for? The answer to that will be the staffing business a few years from now. Staffing needs to find high margin value added services that a computer cannot offer. – Paul Oyer

In response to the idea that you’ll miss the “unpolished diamonds” with reliance on technologies and AI. It takes a human to realize human potential – Tessa del Rio, Head of Sales – LinkedIn


Sara Moss is Erecruit’s Vice President of Staffing Best Practices. Sara helps staffing firms evaluating, implementing and running erecruit to increase operational efficiency, improve service levels and maximize their return on technology investment. 
Tim Quirk is the Vice President of Enterprise Sales for Erecruit. Tim is responsible for new customer acquisition.
Doug Edwards is Erecruit’s Vice President of Business Development. Doug is responsible for driving the growth of Erecruit’s business model and identifying, prioritizing, and executing business development opportunities and strategies.
Amy Yackowski is the Director of Healthcare Best Practices for Erecruit. Amy is responsible for helping Erecruit healthcare customers develop their framework, analyze their business processes and optimize their use, effectiveness and efficiency of the Erecruit solutions.
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