Baseball may be “on hold” until at least July, but that doesn’t have to stop you from tracking important stats—ones that reflect your staffing vendors’ performance.
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As Staffing Industry Analysts reported, last year “companies processed $82.4 billion U.S. dollars (USD) in spend associated with the human cloud on a global basis.” Today’s business environment is defined by the fluidity of globalization. In a short span of time, technology has eroded many of the barriers -- physical and social -- that have separated people throughout the ages. We’ve entered a new era of work where our tools, processes and people function in “the cloud.” Rigid structures and the constraints of brick-and-mortar spaces are giving way to elastic operations that allow business leaders to make real-time adjustments in the workforce. With innovation as a priority for every company, this dynamic is essential to maintaining a competitive edge. It’s unlikely that this protracted war for talent will eventually be won by the old “boots on the ground” mentality. Those days have passed. Tomorrow’s victors will be employers with their heads in the clouds -- in this case, the human cloud.
Business leaders can no longer afford to focus locally on their customers, supply chains or workers. As Oracle observed in a 2014 white paper on human capital management, “This includes expanding their customer, manufacturing, service fulfillment or materials supply base beyond current borders to include a presence outside of their locale as well as expanding their potential talent pool.”
Across all industries, companies still confront a glut of unfilled job orders. Candidates often have the upper hand in negotiations, and those with sought-after skill sets can command greater compensation, incentives and choices in employers. Waiting for candidates to complete applications on job boards or walk through your doors won’t solve the crisis.
The problem for hiring managers has become twofold: attracting exceptional workers and finding them in a reasonable timeframe. In some ways, the situation sounds like a torment out of Dante’s Purgatory -- searching for a solitary needle in a massive haystack.
I have to admit, I’ve never fully appreciated the analogy. It’s strange, given the leaps in human ingenuity and technology, to puzzle over finding the proverbial needle manually. Sure, the metaphor of futility makes sense; it’s just a question of why anyone would engage in it. Why search through all that hay looking for a needle? Wouldn’t it make more sense to grab a magnet and let it draw the needle out of the crowd? This is exactly how employers can optimize their hiring strategies -- by tasking these initiatives to staffing curators who, like magnets, are finding the best workers in the crowd.
As Sarah O’Connor explained in The Financial Times in 2015, “Employers are starting to see the human cloud as a new way to get work done. White-collar jobs are chopped into hundreds of discrete projects or tasks, then scattered into a virtual ‘cloud’ of willing workers who could be anywhere in the world, so long as they have an internet connection.”
Overall, human cloud revenues have almost doubled since 2017. SIA attributes this growth to the popularity of the B2C segment (companies like Uber and Instacart), which generates more than 90 percent of the money. However, it’s not just juggernauts like Uber that are profiting. In three short years, crowd-based staffing solutions captured 8.5 percent of the market. In the next five years, they’re poised to grow by an average of 50 percent. Traditional staffing? Not even seven percent. Yet these “human intermediation platforms” are still missing one key ingredient: curation. Without a measure of quality control and oversight, a crowd can become a mob.
“The line between online staffing and traditional staffing is becoming thinner, as seeming hybrid models, such as just-in-time-staffing, have become prevalent,” SIA noted in its Gig Economy and Human Cloud Landscape 2018 Update.
Deloitte also touted the benefits to industrious professionals with entrepreneurial spirits: “It’s easy to see why a ‘human cloud’ approach can potentially benefit both employers and workers looking for greater flexibility and the opportunity to be rewarded for excellent work. Overall, it has the potential to balance pay with performance on a global stage, regardless of demographics or location.”
Pioneering talent solutions are now bringing out the full potential of the crowd to enhance and replace traditional staffing models for all business needs and positions -- not just one-off projects. In these models, crowdsolving and crowdsourcing transform into robust Crowdstaffing solutions.
Smaller organizations, for example, may not have the resources to locate the best talent for seasonal needs, projects, temporary assignments, part-time work, sudden ramp-ups or vital permanent positions. Internal recruiters have limited talent networks to draw from, and typically rely on a couple of major job boards. For clients using traditional placement agencies, these same limitations come into play -- sourcing efforts target a narrow pool of active candidates through a few job boards and social networks. Although more resumes arrive, hiring managers continue to struggle with finding the candidates they need.
Until recently, the idea of using the crowd as a staffing model has been limited to theories or exclusive reliance on social recruiting campaigns. Even the young technology tools serve merely to facilitate a process; they don’t, however, support the full servicing and management of the talent. In short, they don’t provide a source of crowd control. A Crowdstaffing model curated by staffing experts delivers all the benefits of crowdsourcing strategies while imposing controls that assure compliance. This is the edge that allows companies to reap the advantages of crowd-based solutions.
The human cloud inherently develops crowd-based networks of skilled talent and independent recruiters. Unlike online recruitment solutions, the process is supported by staffing curators to ensure complete labor compliance, quality and customer service. The model streamlines recruiting and hiring processes for time-strapped hiring managers. The recruiter and talent networks built within the human cloud open the doors to a vast array of sourcing tools, techniques and people, while reducing overhead.
There are obviously many nuances and benefits to this kind of a solution, yet they don’t ignore the persistent problems that hiring managers encounter. In fact, they remedy them right out of the gate. Crowdstaffing models conquer the three biggest problems that employers and hiring managers face when seeking exceptional workers: job descriptions and postings, market intelligence, and candidate development.
Many job seekers state that applications are too convoluted, complex and repetitious. Job descriptions, they feel, are not detailed, unique or specific enough to attract their attention. Then there’s the issue of where to post them. Job boards are no longer the destinations of choice for young professionals.
And the next generation of career search engines will be AI-fueled aggregators that live in and bridge the gap to the human cloud. Consider Google’s latest offering, described by TechCrunch: “Google launched a new jobs search feature right on its search result pages that lets you search for jobs across virtually all of the major online job boards like LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder and Facebook and others. Google will also include job listings its finds on a company’s homepage. The idea here is to give job seekers an easy way to see which jobs are available without having to go to multiple sites only to find duplicate postings and lots of irrelevant jobs.”
Staffing curators with a command of the human talent cloud have a tremendous advantage over traditional agencies in terms of connections and insight: their recruiters represent countless companies and are deeply entrenched in all hiring platforms, from standard job boards to social media, associations, groups, community organizations, online marketplaces, and new technologies.
Without a vivid awareness of the competition, hiring managers lose their strategic edge. As Benjamin Gilad of the Harvard Business Review wrote: “The first requirement for being competitive is to know what others in your space are offering or plan to offer so you can judge the unique value proposition of your moves. This is just common sense. The second requirement is to anticipate response to your competitive moves so that they are not derailed by unexpected reactions. That’s just common sense, too.”
Gilad explained that companies spend millions trying to acquire competitive market intelligence through “armies of vendors” and technologies -- $20 billion annually, according to some estimates. And yet few of those companies use that information.
In a Crowdstaffing model, staffing curators develop diverse staffs of independent hiring experts who bring a wealth of past industry and organizational experience to the process. By culling recruiters from the human cloud, staffing curators provide a wider, more comprehensive view of the overall market to clients.
These professionals have worked with a variety of hiring managers across industries and job categories, enhancing their knowledge of real-world job needs, position requirements and applications. Through their breadth of insight, disparate experiences, global reach and perspectives from working with numerous programs, they understand the competition hiring managers face -- and how to position them to rise above. Without spending a fortune on research, hiring managers receive consultative recommendations on how to make their positions stand out, offer the most competitive rates for top talent, and promote benefits or incentives that entice quality workers.
When recruiting top talent for the skills employers need now, and in the foreseeable future, staffing and recruiting professionals are concentrating on fit -- sourcing workers based on matches to established skills and experience. And they are providing them with unique resources to enhance the quality of their job searches, their integration to new business cultures and their careers.
Skilled recruiting professionals spend more time and energy to bait the hook, work the line and interact with prospects. Recruiters in a Crowdstaffing model take this a step further by coaching the right candidates, helping them develop compelling personal brands, guiding them through the hiring process, providing critical feedback and continuous improvement suggestions, and even counseling them on approaches for negotiating offers or counteroffers.
These workers come to organizations satisfied and eager to contribute. Hiring managers have greater assurance of lasting contributions from committed talent. Even for contingent assignments or project-based engagements, retention is paramount to performance, cost efficiencies and timely successes.
There’s a reason why cloud computing defines the 21st century’s digital processes: it’s elastic, efficient, coherent, on-demand and leverages economies of scale. Why shouldn’t the human cloud define this era’s staffing practices? There is strength in the crowd. It allows us to maximize the effectiveness of the shared resources for programs of any size. The crowd also optimizes our access to critical resources and enables us to dynamically reallocate talent on demand. A workforce model that seizes the advantages of the human cloud helps businesses run faster, leaner and at higher levels of productivity.
Keeping one’s head in the clouds used to imply a lack of focus. Today, it means concentrating on efforts that fuel business growth instead of patching holes in aging infrastructures.