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Crowdstaffing featured as Rising Star and Premium Usability HR platform in 2019

Crowdstaffing has earned the prestigious 2019 Rising Star & Premium Usability Awards from FinancesOnline, a popular B2B software review platform. This recognition is given out annually to products[...]

May 13, 2019

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GameChangers: Building A Business As A Force For Good


The rise of the precariat

In June 2015, reacting to data published by the United Nations, media and labor economists began reporting on the “new world of work,” where recovery is not merely driven by a rise in temporary jobs -- its perceived sustainability depends on them as the new normal. With 200 million people underemployed around the world, and with the corporate push to grow the gig economy, the UN warns of “widespread insecurity” as the pendulum swings from societies with full-time jobs to short-term, fixed-length gigs. The UN reports that only one in four participants in the international workforce has a stable work contract. Many others struggle with informal or even illegal jobs, long bouts of joblessness and exploitation. Given all this, the influential Financial Times heralded the “Rise of the Precariat” -- a new class of worker toiling in the precarious conditions of insecure employment arrangements and low wages.

The stories in the press are dark and scary. Yet, are they really fair? The dire conclusions being drawn seem sweeping and steeped in absolutes. In truth, it’s difficult to lay blame on an entire industry, market, work arrangement, employment classification or business model. We’ve heard similarly sinister tales from the full-time quarters of the market, too. The real blame for poor working conditions rests on the choices that specific employers make. Some businesses are bad. And yet many others shine, even if their stories aren’t making the front page. We live in a more transparent and socially conscious age, with a generation of young leaders who are using business as a force for good. These are the Game Changers. And we believe they’re the ones who will define the future of business and talent.

Full-time employment can be just as precarious

Remember in 2012 when Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn essentially admitted that the company stoleemployee pension funds and reallocated them to executive pay? How about Wells Fargo, one of the most profitable companies in the world? Most employees earned only a two-dollar hike in wages over a seven-year period, while the CEO pulled in $19 million in a single year.

More recently, there’s Dunkin Donuts CEO Nigel Travis, who freaked out over New York’s recommendation to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He instead suggested that minimum wages reflect the cost of living for a particular region, citing $12 per hour as fair compensation in New York. That’s closer to the state’s living wage, yet still not equal to it -- and that only applies to single people with no dependents. Dunkin Donuts’ adjusted net income for 2014 was $186 million. Travis’ total annual compensation is $10.6 million. For hard-working Dunkin employees currently making $8.75 an hour, Travis’ complaints seem dismissive and demeaning.

Yes, even in the world of permanent employment, salaries have flattened, pay raises have diminished or vanished, and hard-working talent struggle to make a living wage while their work-life balance suffersunder increasingly demanding conditions.

Individual companies created the precariat, not contingent work or the gig economy

The gig economy, in media and political theater, has become a convenient effigy for the troubles surrounding employment. And yet, there are countless workers who want the flexibility, balance andautonomy that contingent work offers -- as of 2012, nearly 60 percent of freelancers had chosen this lifestyle; and only 13 percent said they would consider returning to a traditional employment relationship. They continue to hold lucrative, high-level positions. Research has found that talent who suffer high levels of anxiety and discontent from their current jobs are 76-percent more likely to choose contingent work. And 81-percent of those who switched said they were happier in their new roles.

This talent force has become so instrumental and predominant across organizations that we no longerthink of them as contingent or temporary. They are vital contributors to a new complementary workforce. More importantly, they’ve chosen to abandon permanent jobs with a single employer. If anything, that’s a reaction to the disengagement rife in traditional employment arrangements -- and the poor experiences workers have had with specific companies.

Game changers

For every oppressive organization we hear about in the press, there are the Game Changers -- companies that put people first for a greater benefit than profits at any cost. They give back to their talent and their communities. Starbucks has done some tremendous good in championing diversity and offering its workers additional opportunities through sponsored educational programs. Netflix and Virgin rolled out generous family leave packages for their professionals. The Market Basket story is well known. Each of these businesses realized that by treating talent well, they were bolstering engagement, retention, commitment, customer service and even revenues.

Last week, a co-working startup called WeWork saved over 100 temporary cleaners and janitors who were in danger of losing their jobs by August 23 because of a nullified contract with the staffing provider. WeWork also learned that these non-union positions were characterized by substandard pay and no benefits. WeWork supplies office space to small businesses, startups, non-profits and freelancers across New York. Its stated mission is to “create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living… redefining success measured by personal fulfillment, not just the bottom line.” So in response to the situation, WeWork brought the custodial talent in-house, offering competitive wages of between $15 and $18 per hour with benefits that include health care, 401k and even equity in the company.

And in the contingent workforce space, though it’s being demonized in certain stories about “precariat” business cultures, there exists an incredible focus on the needs of talent. South Carolina’s In Every Story(IES) Labor Services is a strong example. IES has devoted itself to serving the needs of its workers as well as its customers. It allocates a portion of its profits to create savings incentive programs. “In turn,” IESwrites, “we train and create a better product for customers. Our employees are more motivated and better quality workers.”

This dedication to talent and employee investment is the core philosophy behind our own company. When Zenith Talent was conceived, our CEO Sunil Bagai didn’t just seek to attain the same rewards andlifestyles as the entrepreneurs for whom he previously worked; he wanted to build a purpose-driven enterprise -- a business community -- where he could help his own employees achieve the same resultsfor themselves. And with the advent of Crowdstaffing, Zenith Talent discovered a way to bring it to them. The program benefits recruiters as much as clients, exposing them to unlimited earning potential and ongoing opportunities, while freeing them to live their lives -- with full corporate support.

The Crowdstaffing model changes the game by inspiring recruiter partners to become entrepreneursthrough an evolutionary profit-sharing program. These professionals reap the lion’s share of the profits for each placement, between 33 percent and 60 percent. Many earn six-figure incomes -- four to five times more than they made previously. They have a vested interest in the program, so they care. Not only has Crowdstaffing compelled recruiters to reach new heights of productivity and superior service for hiring managers and MSPs, it’s allowed them to build their own organizations -- some have formed teams of 10 to 20 people.

GameChangers500

Despite the sensationalized doom and gloom in the media, we’re standing at a precipice of great hope.The next generation of business leaders embraces social reform, renewal, egalitarianism, sustainability and corporate citizenship. Their positive influence is already being felt. While some pundits preoccupythemselves with finding something to blame for economic challenges, others are building the foundations for a new era of progress. Consider Andrew Hewitt’s GameChangers500, which profiles purpose-driven organizations that are using business as a force for good around the world.

“I had watched one too many friends grow numb in profit-at-all-cost corporations, and couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer,” Hewitt wrote in 2013. “Why is it that we spotlight the Fortune 500, a list that benchmarks success based on revenue alone? What if we created a new list that showcased the growingmovement of organizations maximizing their positive impact rather than just maximizing their profit?”

GameChangers500 showcases the efforts companies are making to improve society. All organizations are evaluated and qualified through a rigorous process, receiving badges across nine categories. So while people are aware of the products and services delivered by organizations such as IDEO, Zappos and Google, they can now gain a fuller understanding of how those businesses are using their wealth and resources to benefit their workers, their customers and the communities they share.

As Forbes noted of GameChangers500’s inauguration: “As doing good continues to prove to be good business, it can be expected that more major corporations will join this ‘new game’. Studies show thattheir ability to retain talent and market share rely on it. Considering the budget some large organizations spend on coffee filters alone is equal to the total revenue produced by many social enterprises, a smallshift in this sector equates to an enormous positive impact.”   

And more companies are joining the GameChangers500 movement. Any caring and committedorganization with a broad perspective on success can change the game. We at Zenith Talent are proud to announce that our own for-benefit efforts have secured us a place on this prestigious list.

It’s about a company’s mind and heart, not its balance sheet

Just as some media caution against the rise of a precariat workforce, many others are actively taking astance to stifle it. We can’t pin the problems on contingent labor alone. Staffing curators are putting more professionals back to work, focusing on their development, mentoring their career progress and keeping them employed -- they constantly present new opportunities and assignments to keep top talent moving through their careers.

The talent themselves realize tremendous benefits. They have the flexibility to determine their schedules and choose the companies they will serve. They have the labor protections and benefits. Complementary talent are exposed to new jobs and new environments with each assignment; their experiences across businesses and industries allows them to acquire to new, transferrable skills for greater opportunities. And they have the power to better negotiate their rates. Some studies have found that complementary talent can earn more than their full-time equivalents.

The truth is that every benefit or every problem comes down to the actions of the individual company. And some employers just stink, to be blunt. Some exploit their workers, some violate labor regulations,some oppress their talent, some steal, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re running businesses that employ a traditional workforce or contingent talent. The problem resides with that particular companyand its leadership. Yet for every precarious employer, there are plenty of organizations that shine -- that are changing the game for the better, putting people first and making a difference in the lives of theirtalent and their customers.

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