Connecting With Other Companies That Use Contingent Staff

By Irwin Speizer

Apr. 12, 2007

Companies looking for answers to contingent labor questions no longer need to rely solely on consultants.

    A new membership organization launched by publisher and researcher Staffing Industry Analysts allows companies to ask one another what works.

    The new Contingent Workforce Strategies Council, unveiled in late January, is designed to give member companies (typically Fortune 1,000 corporations) access to peer networks as well as Staffing Industry Analysts research and experts.

    Ron Mester, CEO of Staffing Industry Analysts, says the new council’s peer network is a direct response to requests from corporate executives keen on developing best practices in the field of contingent labor.

    “We started testing a lot of concepts with some of the companies and asked a lot of questions,” Mester said. “What we were finding was that they wanted a lot more data and information, but they also wanted to interact a lot more with peers and other companies. They said, ‘We think some of our peers may have information, data and insights.’ “

    One of the benefits being offered to members of the new council is the ability to connect with other members to discuss contingent labor issues or topics. For example, a member company shopping for a vendor might call Staffing Industry Analysts and ask to contact other members to discuss existing solutions.

    Initially, companies will simply be provided contact names and information. But plans call for an online network that members can access. Mester says the online component is still under discussion and development but should be available by the second quarter of this year.

    “Today it is simple,” Mester says. “We schedule a call and get out of the way.”

   Peer networking is one of several offerings through the new council. Others include:

  • A basket of proprietary research and data related to contingent labor use and management. The system allows a manager to view on one page a list of different issues or topics that need to be addressed.

  • Support from expert analysts who can provide expert advice on starting and running contingent labor systems.

  • Regular updates on news and trends in contingent labor.

    Staffing Industry Analysts unveiled the new council at its most recent contingent labor conference, in November. The price for an annual membership is $30,000. So far, four companies have joined: Nationwide, Accenture, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

    While the new council offers some of the same benefits to corporations as membership in the American Staffing Association—the ability to network with others (primarily at conferences and conventions) and access to industry research—there are also some distinct differences. The association is a nonprofit advocacy group for the staffing industry rather than a for-profit company, and the association does not provide the type of individual counseling and consulting that the council offers.

    Mester says the council should prove particularly useful to human resources and procurement divisions, since officials from those two areas are most often involved in a company’s use of contingent labor. “HR individuals who are responsible for this function in a company, they often find that by and large, the rest of their HR colleagues have no idea what this is about, how to manage it, what unique challenges there are.”

    The aim is that through the council, those lonely HR experts in contingent labor can reach out and find peers in other companies who can relate.

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