Workforce consultancy within the wider resourcing landscape

Observations on the market and resourcing models and how workforce solution providers can adapt.

Episode highlights

How do workforce solutions providers build credibility in services procurement
Making better resourcing decisions considering all workforce channels
The importance of triaging an outcome
The alignment between procurement and HR in the talent ecosystem
Addressing resourcing shortages and resilience with different engagement models

Posted by: ZivioReading time: 77 minutes

With Jessica Holt, Global Head of Workforce Consultancy, Resource Solutions

00:00:00 - A broader look at the resourcing solutions ecosystem
00:15:20 - What is the Employee Consultancy model and how does it fit in
00:27:15 - SoW management vs milestone delivery vs Employee Consultancy
00:41:45 - The grey areas in between the different models
00:46:30 - Addressing talent gaps and procurement's role in total talent management
00:56:40 - Communicating the benefits of holistic resourcing models


Jonny Dunning:   
0:02         Okay, Jess and we are rolling. So welcome Jessica Holt, Global Head of Workforce Consultancy at Resource Solutions. Thank you very much for joining me. How are you?

Jessica Holt:         0:11         I’m really good. Thank you enjoying the bit more freedom we’re getting now with the COVID restriction. So yeah, enjoying it and also enjoying my new role at Resource Solutions.

Jonny Dunning:   0:22         Yeah, congratulations on that. A very interesting move for you and exciting time in the market. Also, as you mentioned about the COVID restrictions. It just opens the world up a bit, isn’t it? I think everyone’s going into the winter with a little bit of trepidation thinking, how’s it all going to go? What’s going to happen in the UK with the schools and this that in the other, but it’s definitely more face to face meetings and things like that coming up, but obviously doing stuff like this over a video call, nice and convenient.

Jessica Holt:         0:49         Yes, definitely. 

Jonny Dunning:   0:51         Excellent stuff. Cool. So what we’re gonna be talking about today is an area that you are certainly very much a subject matter expert in, and that is the workforce consultancy model. But we want to look at it in the kind of a wider context of the wider talent ecosystem. So the title, we’ve got but this is horses for courses, slightly cheesy, but I like it, workforce consultancy within the wider talent ecosystem. And I think that phrase, talent ecosystem is quite key here. Because it’s not just a simple picture. There are lots of different ways in which companies can get work done, how they can resource, their requirements. And I think, the discussion we’re aiming to have today is very much a broader look at that, and looking at what sensibly fits where, and how organizations can navigate that effectively. You say that’s fair enough?

Jessica Holt:         1:46         Yes, absolutely. And I think it’s about challenging those old assumptions with this new environment now, it’s very much around, how are those people going to engage into your workforce? How do they work together, remotely collaborating together, but also how to develop all of those potentials? And create a sort of an ecosystem of all those frameworks that can allow those changes to be adapted in a real time environment, but really understanding all those different routes to talent that are available to organizations now.

Jonny Dunning:   2:24         Yeah, I feel like the options have significantly increased over the last few years. But if we if we take a bit of a kind of look at your journey in this market, so you’ve been involved in the whole kind of talent marketplace, for most of your career and obviously been specializing in this area for a decent period of time, just talk me through the kind of the journey that you’ve had through the industry, and also maybe some of the changes that you’ve seen along the way.

Jessica Holt:         2:50         Yeah, absolutely. I mean, unfortunately, I started my recruitment career when I literally was fax machine. So that’s how much it’s evolved in my journey. But I mean, over 20 years in recruitment and outsourcing of MSP and RPO. But probably the last 15 years has been very much focused around consultancy. So those flexible resource pools that sit between your permanent and your contingent labor solutions, and I would say the first opportunity that came about was in the recession. So really offering a significant cost save, as it sorts of moved in involved. And as legislation has got more and more complex, and also more governance required by employment staffing agencies, it’s to try and support organizations with an easier way to actually hire that resource and mitigate some of those risks. So I obviously went through the IR35. legislation that went through public sector A few years ago, and I’ve seen the trends of how resource now contingent resources been re-engaged into those organizations. And obviously now with it happening in the private sector, that’s really where and then with COVID, as well, you sort of looking at how can you erase some of that pain for those organizations? So it’s been interesting and I think the period of the pandemic has really made organizations rethink those strategies. So if you look about the digital transformation they’ve done, people are engaged in inducted remotely, how do you actually build some of that talent with breakfast, so there is a talent shortage. I mean, we’re seeing the highest numbers of recruitment activity, but also the sort of wars for that talent and trying to offer an environment that is flexible and engaging. And individuals that may be have been out of work, maybe to care for someone for the last year, how do we rescale them and get them back in. And there is a lot of support from government, but that’s not always easily accessible or viable for companies because of the wraparound, that you might need to really bring that future talent in or help rescale. So those sort of those new resource challenges is where, you know, the employee consultant model really can offer a range of solutions.

Jonny Dunning:   5:31         Yeah, it’s so interesting. I’ve been involved with kind of talent, technology, workforce technology for my whole career. And having seen the transition and how things have changed over time, I’ve been involved with things like gig marketplaces, and the freelancer side of it, the gig before COVID, the changes that the gig economy was driving were very significant. And obviously, before COVID, in the UK, and in Europe, one of the main things that people were talking about was Brexit, and the skill shortages that that would create, and then obviously, IR35, the reforms rolled out from the public sector, the private sector, so there was a lot going on anyway. And then with COVID, coming into the mix, it’s created this amazing kind of process of change, where companies have had to adapt quite quickly to start things have become top of the agenda that weren’t necessarily so high on the agenda. Costs have become a lot more critical shortages of worse than they probably have, maybe you’ve ever been, particularly in kind of emerging high demand areas. So, it’s an opportunity for organizations to do things differently. And going back to the kind of horses for courses, and it’s about making the right choices, isn’t it, so you didn’t have things like the gig economy. Previously, you didn’t have those options. And before IR35 came into place, for example, getting a piece of work done under a Statement of Work might not have been considered for certain things where it just automatically be a contract [unclear 7:02] for it. But you’ve also got things like the role of I known, hopefully, there’s something we can discuss a bit later. But the role of things like diversity within the core workforce, of extended workforces supply chain, all of those things are really important. But it’s about the companies having choices, and being educated to those choices, and having access to those choices and being able to effectively make the best use of all of their available resources. So when it for some people, it can look like quite a complicated picture. But there’s not an unlimited number of ways, fundamentally, you can get work done. There’s a range, but it needs to be brought into a clear structure for organizations. And that’s quite a big challenge, where people are coming from a more traditional mindset, and then suddenly, all this stuff’s happened. There’s changed things really, really quickly. And everyone’s trying to get on top of it. So it feels like a challenging time for organizations. And you must see that when you’re going in and consulting with them about what the problems that are trying to solve.

Jessica Holt:         8:06         Yeah, absolutely. And some of it is as simple as the two parts of the business aren’t talking to each other, talent acquisition, historically, may sit in HR, it may not, it may be that procurement, involved in setting up an MSP or an RPO, in terms of the contractual engagement. And then within that procurement, or services procurement, because there are so many categories and spends, it’s not just human capital that is included in there, it’s making sure that you get a real holistic view on where that talent is going to come from, but also the compliance pit. So if the internal organization is sort of working out how they’re going to collaborate together, you’ve then also got an overlay of hiring manager behavior. So we all know the pain of have not been able to deliver projects, knee jerk reaction to then get contingent resourcing, but then that extends to being a longer term engagement. You might be paying for services procurement, but a deliverable piece of work. But then because you get to know them, you might put them on a contingent assignment. So you’ve got all these behaviors, which are ultimately driven by that manager need that talent needs them to be skilled. And whatever route they can do to get that resource as quick as they can, will tend to be that defining end result. And obviously, technology fits over that really, really well. But sometimes, it doesn’t, and sometimes the need is come first, and then they find the technology or the route to actually put that resource through a particular agreement. And so I think it’s really looking at that being very open to where that talent is, is it freelance, is it part of the gig economy? How do we then know that they’ve been vetted to the standard that they need? Likewise, if it’s through a Statement of Work engagement, have the compliance checks happens, these people are some of it onshore, offshore. And then also, as things evolved okay, a lot of organizations have had redundancies or changes to their headcount, but maybe there’s challenges on, re-employing a number of people or getting them back into business with the skills that they need. But at some point, they will want to build their permanent workforce again. So, all that investment that you might have done through a Statement of Work fired, or I can contract it, how do you make sure that you’re retaining that knowledge, and they’re not moving on to another organization and taking that knowledge with them. So I do think it’s become extremely complex. And you then also add in the fact that these people have a right to do what they want. So there could be a contractor one day, and they might want to work remotely another day, and then they might be engaged through an organization that they have some sort of link through sustainability or a passion towards. So how do you make sure that, that candidate is continually giving all those options, and it’s not just permanent, or contract or Statement of Work, that they’re able to engage with that company that they really want to go and work for? So where we support organizations is exactly that so it’s giving them the extra training and development, giving them the ability to consult with as employment employees of resource solutions, but with a particular client. But then they might want to go and work for another global organization over the side of the world. And we can still do that, but they’ve still got their benefits of being a permanent employee with us. So yeah, I do think it’s a challenging time, for all areas, really. And it’s been able to get some of that advice that can really shape the direction that they’re going to go to, and not fall behind some of their other competitors really.

Jonny Dunning:   12:06       You make some interesting points there, I think, you know, ultimately, what it comes down to is the best fit for a particular requirement. And I think I’ve had quite a few interesting conversations in the industry, with the kind of work versus worker conundrum, in the sense that you can approach it from a, “I need this worker” or you can approach it from saying, “This is the piece of bit of work that needs to be done that works towards this strategic objective within this department, which feeds into the overall company strategy.” And I think that’s something that’s becoming more and more a topic of conversation, because the work defines the best fit of the engagement model to deliver that work to a certain extent. But it always comes down to talent and skills, and ability to deliver work at the end, because it’s always people, they’re doing the work in what we’re talking here, how whatever engagement model doesn’t matter, whether it’s people delivering consultancy, under a Statement of Work, or a permanent employee or a contractor. So it’s access to the right way to get the job done. And that unpicking that, and does make organizations ask lots of useful questions around what it is they actually want to achieve, almost take it back a level, because I think the problems sometimes occur when people are trying to make an engagement type fit, rather than fitting the engagement type to what’s actually required. I just want to do it this way, I just want to contractor or I just want to make this a Statement of Work. Well, you can’t do as a Statement of Work because the person is clearly acting as in the way that an employee would act, for example. So that can’t be it’s not a Statement of Work, or there’s you’re trying to fit something that doesn’t fit. So, I mean, that’s one of the things that we’ve seen around the growth Statement of Work. I mean, we’ve been doing this from a tech point of view, since kind of 2017, 2018 really started, getting more traction with it. And that was partly down to IR35 coming to the public sector. And public sector organizations. It’s not like Statement of Work hadn’t been around for ages, but a need to bring it under control to make sure there weren’t risks around IR35 in the tail spend, where you’ve got body shopping, disguised employment, etc, issues to uncover. And also it was a more appealing model. Because it was in some ways, areas where you couldn’t get a piece of work done effectively using a contractor legitimately, then it made sense to actually just outsource it to a supplier to deliver an outcome for you. So it’s a really interesting transition, and everyone’s kind of trying to get to grips with it. And so I think you raise a really important interesting points around that. But also, you raised some interesting points around the individuals and obviously with what you guys are offering when people provide an employed consultancy model that offers different things on both the client side and also on the worker side? And so can you just give a kind of your go to description of what is the employee consulting model? What makes it different? And how does it fit into this wider talent ecosystem? 

Jessica Holt:         15:23       Great, I shall ...

Jonny Dunning:   15:25       I’m sorry, I always asked like several questions in one go. 

Jessica Holt:         15:27       So, it’s good. And so, I think ultimately, it’s flexible, permanent staff. So if you think about all the benefits that a permanent employee gets, you’ve got the investment in their career development, the training on offer, the mentorship, the coaching, the performance reviews, and all the benefits around, pensions and healthcare and all that kind of stuff and bonuses. And with that, because they’re permanent employees, it does mean that we can deploy them at a slightly reduced rate to what a contractor would be. But obviously, you’ve got all the overlay of risk as if that assignment finishes, you’ve got to put them onto a bench. So it’s quite a strict way of managing that resource pool in a very controlled manner. And it’s not going to be the be all and end all, it won’t replace everything, but it’ll be a blended solution. So if you’ve got an MSP provider, certain core skills or durations that would be suitable for an employee consultant would naturally be filtered through a consultant will be provided. On the other side, when you look at some of those challenging niche skills, it’s about helping build that talent. So most organizations will have some sort of an apprenticeship scheme, some graduate program. But when you go in deep with some of these business managers, sometimes that skill set, that really nice blend of software skills isn’t actually being provided for. And also, you’ve got all the costs of that training. And in certain instances, there is still attrition or retention, that can come through all the performance aspects of it. And you overlay that onto a manager, and suddenly they’ve got a team of number of resources, and how do they actually mentor and coach. So where the employee consultant model comes in, is one to boot camp or give them that academy learning that’s necessary to give them the real life experiences that they need to deliver on that role, and continue that journey. So, maybe the digital transformation happens as new skills that will be funded by the provider, but also to really provide a community or a practice of other resources that may be dotted around lots of different clients. And so they can feel that they’ve got a point of professional development, and wider development. It’s not just work based. But an interesting area as well is and especially with the sort of return back into work. Some of the surveys that have come through have said that most of those individuals that are wanting to go back into a work environment are male. So when you start to think about what’s going to happen in the future about all those organizations have done loads for gender diversity or ethnicity and tried to get those people to collaborate. Actually, there’s a barrier now. And that can be the need that don’t want to get back into working environment unless it’s necessary. And we’ve seen that across everywhere. So I think where this can also add some value is that community aspect, that portal, that really learning center will allow that collaboration and that diversity. So it can also support organizations in maintaining those levels with that flexible workforce. And I think ultimately, it’s engaging that talent forever longer is but given these that client knows that it they’re fully mitigated against any employment legislation, all the assessed analysis, they haven’t got to go through any of that. They’ve actually got a partner that wants to work with them to support their overall objectives on a flexible manner. So the challenges around maintaining a permanent headcount, especially coming out of COVID, and some organizations have been impacted more than others. It’s having that partner there that can really work with you to bring out some of those financial challenges by offering something flexible and also cost efficient.

Jonny Dunning:   19:48       A quick question for you on that so if you look at it from a headcount point of view, if PLC is always going to be very conscious of their in headcount figures, because that’s going to be in their reporting. It’s gonna be in their financial information. How would if I’m in a large organization, I’m a PLC and I take on 50 employee consultants, where do they sit? I’m assuming they don’t sit on my employee line, obviously. 

Jessica Holt:         20:14       On the employee line, no. And so there’s a couple of areas they can sit for sometimes if it’s through the recruit chain deploys that early careers talent, and that resource will be owned by the HR team effectively, but it could be engaged as a purchase order or services procurement, because the spend might be under a certain threshold, in those instances, the resources typically engaged for two years, and then moving into that organization’s permanent workforce. So you’ve got an output, which is performance level skill level, at the end of that two-year program, they’d move into permanent. So another areas that they’re just a day rate contingent labor worker, just like you’ve got an umbrella company, or a limited company worker, or PAYE, this is just another day rate, obviously, some different dynamics surrounding it, but it can go through that route. And I think, where we get this sort of real gray area on the Statement of Work areas, because some of those organizations will allow you to engage into a services procurement or Statement of Work piece. And they exist, it’s just there is sometimes different clauses and terminology that sit within that contract or agreement. So the employee consultancy model with no tax and emissions, we’re not on site directing and leading that individual. And so that can sometimes, especially if it’s derived out of a stuffing organization, it can be an area of sort of negotiation, I suppose. But if it’s really to support that manager under their direction, but actually you just want some you want someone to be able to manage that community resource to give a performance at Port IE, how are you working towards my organization’s objectives? We can then bonus and reward them in alignment of achieving that. So that’s where you get quite great. And I think again, that’s when it comes back to what are the clauses that are specific for those different types of engagement, whether it be risks deliverable, or just an output of performance?

Jonny Dunning:   22:29       Yeah, it’s really interesting because IR35 is irrelevant doesn’t come into it, because they are permanent employees of you guys as the provider. 

Jessica Holt:         22:39       Yeah. 

Jonny Dunning:   22:40       And in terms of how you contract, you’re effectively delivering a service. There’s people that form the fundamental part of that service, but they’re fully employed by you. So that’s they’re fully employed, the tax isn’t an issue. But how you contract with the end client? Do you ever so sometimes it will be on a Statement of Work with deliverables or I guess milestones are just an overall deliverable? And other times it could literally be on a day. So, it’s very interesting how it crosses over and it’s kind of, it’s got the flexibility for an end client to engage with you feels like in the way that suits them best. And from an employment law and tax perspective, that’s not an issue, because you’re dealing with that anyway. I guess it’s just around liability risk and things like that, that come more into those contracts. Is that where the nuances lie?

Jessica Holt:         23:35       Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s very interesting, some of the conversations I’ve had over the last few weeks around. When organizations talk about services, procurement, some of them actually think you’re providing you’re responsible for making sure those deliverables have happened as in from a technical perspective that the boxes are being ticked. They don’t always understand that actually, for services procurement, what most staffing organizations do is that layer of technology to help them manage the process of the suppliers and all the different elements that sort of make them compliant. So it does get quite confusing, but I think, like you mentioned before, if you go back to, where is this talent sitting? And how do they want to be engaged? And what’s going to be the benefit to them? Versus what do we need to do as an organization to access that talent, but also make sure it’s done in compliant fashion. And then, because everybody says forecasting is an actual nightmare. But if you look at the data on how historically some of those home managers their behaviors, that can give you a prediction of what they’re going to do in the future. So when I go in to do an audit for an organization, I’ll look at where is their biggest spending skill sets, hopefully start to uncover what’s going on in the services procurement area. And is there for example, a threshold? So anything under 100k automatically doesn’t get any review of any compliance and try and understand, well, actually, what are those resources delivering. And is there a better way to actually bring that, that talent in that will give some benefit to the organization, whether it’s a cost benefit, or a risk benefit, in terms of mitigating it? So, it’s about really partnering and getting the right people into that meeting as such to open up the conversations, backing it up with the data. Like I mentioned, having been through various different market challenges, resource challenges. Most companies end up going down certain routes, for example, there’s an organization that their contingent workers actually show as headcount. So when they’re reporting to the market, it’s their permanent headcount and their contingent headcount. So you can then see how there’s a natural instinct to push everything through Statement of Work. But if you think that that’s really where a contract is going now, because they’re trying to avoid the headcount. And there’s none of the compliance that maybe HR might do around fest analysis, or AWR. And so you’re building out this massive can of things that potentially could explode, because HMRC are starting to investigate and explore. And it takes one corrective behavior to them to really investigate in and what the implications then in terms of the costs to that organization.

Jonny Dunning:   26:47       I mean, that example there, where you’ve got contingent workers as headcount and therefore, that might make people have the headcount limits or phrasal cap, whatever, then a buying manager might try and push that under the Statement of Work and probably not be a genuine Statement of Work. I think that comes back to what I was saying around this debate of, is it a question of trying to get a worker and put them in, by hook or by crook? Or is it a question of using the right engagement model for that specific piece of work that needs to be done. So couple of things just want to kind of come back to, so in terms of when you were talking about with the Statement of Work with deliverables, sometimes there being a confusion with certain models, where maybe the end client thinks that an intermediary, like for example, you guys is responsible for the delivery of the milestone, whereas actually in what I would describe as an SOW, management services procurement type solution, where you are intermediating, between the supplier and the client, and you are bringing in technology and helping them manage the process, surfacing data, giving visibility, making sure it’s all working nicely and providing strategic insights. And you’re not responsible for the delivery of the project, the supplier is, and they’re directly responsible to the client through usually a tri-party agreement to deliver that. Whereas on the other hand, we’re seeing significant growth in staffing organizations moving up the value chain towards kind of true consultancy, where they are providing project services or consulting services where they do take liability, and they are submitting a milestone for the client to approve, they’re responsible for doing the work and have liability for that. So it’s very interesting to see that gradient happened in the market. But you’re absolutely right, when you say, the critical thing is actually whatever you’re going to do, doing it correctly. Because anywhere along that line, you could be getting that wrong, and you can either be taking unacceptable risk for your organization, you could be leaving the client in a hole for risk, if it’s not done correctly, or there could be this floating IR35 liability that’s going to bite somebody along the line. Yeah, I totally agree with you.

Jessica Holt:         28:53       And I think, having a sort of a triage desk, having a part of the support shoe in, in helping make those right decisions, because a lot of the time the communication around all these different resource elements isn’t always, you know, shared across the platform, then you’ve got to get approval here and get some funding here. And I think if you can find an organization that can help you demystify that through one central route, then that might be all you need to do to make sure asking the right questions around what is this resource required for, have you looked at this and vice versa? And from those conversations, then you can start to build out either in a new solution or just direct them to the right method of the talent source.

Jonny Dunning:   29:43       Yeah, so another thing I think is quite interesting is this sort of transition point. So in what percentage across the industry would you hazard a guess that what percentage of employed consultancy work results in a permanent engagement with the end client. Is it like 10%, 50%? What do you reckon?

Jessica Holt:         30:08       It does range, I think the more junior end the Build Mode, where you’re investing all the training with the end result, I would say 80 to 90%, go direct into the client, because you’ve got co investment from both sides of making sure that resource fits their future demand from a professional grade. And again, it’s sometimes it’s about the branding and the engagement and getting that cultural fit. So some resources out there, they just always want to go and work for the end client. And that’s all they’re bothered about. And they’ll pick and choose who they want to go and work for. Some of them, it’s about the candidate trialing at that organization to really get a feel of what the culture is compared to what they’re projecting outside. And again, using a staffing provider that can bring some of that branding and attraction and help you direct to get bring that diverse workforce in is really a specialism that we have. See, I don’t know whether that answers your question. 

Jonny Dunning:   31:13       It does. It’s interesting, I thought it would probably vary. And the fact that it’s depending on levels of seniority and experience and stuff like that makes sense. And do you think this model is unique to the staffing industry? In the sense that, if you look at like this, there’s this convergence going on. So if you look at like, the big consultancies, they do consulting work, where they’re providing consultancy service, generally under a Statement of Work, and they will be doing it with their own employees, or they’ll be bringing in contractors or outsourcing some of it on a subcontract basis. Well, they don’t tend to generally do is have any of those people then go into work for the end client. On the odd occasion, obviously, someone’s gonna make a decision to do that. But it’s not part of the service. Do you think this employee consulting model where it where it does tie into the permanent resourcing headcount side of it? Is that unique to the staffing industry, do you think? Or the other areas that offer something that do something similar?

Jessica Holt:         32:12       I mean, there’s always that attempt to perm option, but I think you’re looking at a contract to go and perm, whereas here, it’s a permanent to permanent, sort of transition really. I think the larger consultancies that the sort of the specialisms that they go into, is quite unique. And there will be a blend of onshore national offshore, junior talent with some of those higher qualified individuals, I’ve got some specialists area. So I do think in that sort of instance, there, there’s sort of like the niche within the sort of talent marketplace. I think the employed consultant model has become more to the forefront recently. I mean, it’s always been there, but it has, I found always been a battle where you still really trying to educate people on what the benefits are. But you’re right, now, especially with the recruit train deploy models, we’ve seen multiple training providers sort of appear everywhere. And some of them have very specific skill sets that they’re delivering into, which are very relevant for the client, but not all of them have that wraparound to make sure that once they’re deployed onto site, they’re actually going to be successful. So, I think there has been a huge growth and I think there are a lot of recruitment agencies that are building at these project services. And again, I would question is this just in associates or contractors that are being brought in this specific piece of work, which is absolutely fine. But if you want a partner that’s going to be able to literally mirror the same kind of career progression that your own permanent staff would have, but from a flexible, agile way, then I think those conversations are seem to be a lot more open now. And again, I think, with the remote working and the induction piece, it’s a real battle for those managers to understand how they’re going to end up their flexible workforce in so I do think it’s going to be something that’s ahead for the future. And obviously, one of the reasons that I moved to resource solutions because we’ve got a global client base that makes it really exciting for those consultants to come and really explore lots of organizations around the world and really give them that diversity of engagement and assignment.

Jonny Dunning:   34:46       Yeah, so I guess from a workers point of view, if they’re joining your employee consultancy community, is there a typical kind of tenure of how long people will stay within that? Obviously, they’re junior people, they’re probably going to be going off and flowing into employment over a two-year cycle or something like that. But I’d imagine there’s probably some people that will be with an intermediary like yourselves for a long period of time and work on lots of different projects, almost like a contractor in the sense, they’re probably working on what they’re interested in what they’re good at. But the professional development side of it, personal development side of it is there were for contracts, or it might not be sometimes something that contractors find quite tricky. And also, there’s the opportunity for them to work with multiple different clients. So I guess there’s a proportion of that population that will be there for a long time.

Jessica Holt:         35:33       Yeah, absolutely. And I think these are, they probably have even more support than you would if you were just in a permanent organization, because they’re critical to us one, because they’re front facing into our client organization, and they’re representing, you know, us as an organization. And so that representation needs to be that they’re delivering and got high performance, we typically benchmark ourselves with those permanent employees, but also try and go a little bit above and beyond. So for us, it’s about retention in that assignment with that client, because some of their key aspects of benefit for them is that retention of knowledge. I would say, it’d be interesting to see what happens over the next sort of 12 ~ 24 months, because there has been the mass resignation. So I don’t know how that’s gonna impact over the next 12 months. But also, I think one of the other pieces is this sort of appetite to rescale and learn and really develop personally. And so, I think this is an area where they can get some flexibility, but also security that they’re going to get the mortgage paid at the end of the month. So I do think it’s an interesting dynamic, and I think one that’s probably going to continue to evolve over the next 12 ~ 24 months. But the area where we saw the biggest impact last year in the pandemic was that junior entry level, because the resources that they could afford to have are needed to be the top performers, for people that can manage workload on their own, a skilled, highly skilled, and unfortunately, a lot of those individuals that were furloughed from companies in that sort of entry level, were ones where there was a challenge around making sure there was a hiring manager to look after them or help coach them. So that elements are sort of recovering a little bit. But yeah, I think it’s going to continue to evolve. So I think opening up those conversations now and getting the procurement element of the organization talking to the business, and somewhat skills they need. And then from a HR compliance perspective, and hopefully there’s nothing else coming down the line to sort of cost organizations money, but we don’t know we know NIC is going to go up. So what would a contractor do, who’s in scope of IR35, they’re going to want to try and recover that cost by increasing their child raise, whether that be through Statement of Work provider or as a direct contingent worker? So that’s the next thing on the line, I think just the more cost increases really.

Jonny Dunning:   38:24       Well, what all these sorts of things keep people like you and I very busy. So there’s a lot going on, and it fundamentally comes down to the fact that companies have business to go after, they’ve got business to do, and they find it very difficult to resolve that at the moment. And so many things are happening so quickly. Governments are trying to put controls in place, you’ve got major global events coming into it, companies are worrying about costs, all of a sudden, with things like COVID, just slamming the entire world. So everyone’s got to get there. Everyone’s got to get everything lined up and organized. And they shouldn’t be missing out on opportunities where this scenario would really help them for a particular type of requirement or a particular part of the business or whatever it is, they need to get done that matches up with that. So I agree with your assessment that it’s very important that organizations either have the internal capacity, or they work with a suitable partner to understand where they should be driving requirements, which channels should they be putting through, and then of course, they need to do each bit correctly and not try and fudge them between the two, or between the three or whatever it might be, because that’s just going to cause problems. I think one thing that comes out of all of this is that it’s all about flexibility. 

Jessica Holt:         39:44       Yeah. 

Jonny Dunning:   39:44       So on the worker side, people want different options, talking about training and upskilling. When I was a young child, I didn’t have the opportunity to just go into YouTube and learn how to do stuff. And the fact that people take profession training in all sorts of things in their personal life. Whereas when I was a kid, that wasn’t something that we did. So I think that’s massively increased over like the last 10 years. So people have more of a mindset of personal development. And people have more of a mindset of flexibility. But on the other side, for organizations, innovations happening, so fast tech is changing so quickly, requirements are moving so fast demand, if you don’t act quickly, you’re out the competition. And so they need more flexibility as well. And what that might look like depends on their sector location, what their operating model is, what the culture of their business is, where the gaps are, how things are changing. So, it’s all about being able to be flexible, and just being able to draw down on the right resources where you need to, and this should be the talents to match up with the requirements. And whatever it is, all these companies around the world want to do. This should be people that could do that. And clearly, in some very new emerging areas, there’s a new piece of technology that people have got to learn. But people learn this stuff quickly. So it’s not necessarily about there aren’t the right, there aren’t, there isn’t the talent there to fulfill the requirements, it’s a question of getting the two to the right place where they meet effectively. And that is going to require a different structured engagement, depending on where they are, if they’re remote, or whether they’re on site, or how that company is positioned in the sense of we can’t take on more headcount, we have to outsource is under a Statement of Work, or actually, we need to do this via limited company contractors. It is a complex picture. But I think that’s where conversations like this are really useless. And certainly it’s very useful for me to understand this employee consultancy model in more detail as to how it fits in. And, and there are always gray areas like what we’re talking about with Statement of Work, because, for example, if a company engages an employee consultancy, provided like you guys to deliver, effectively consulting services under the Statement of Work. And then that turns into permanent placements. That’s quite an interesting kind of, it’s an interesting take on that model is transitioning from one thing to another. And that does require, it’s crossing over between procurement, buying services, and HR hiring people who are going to be employees and a fundamental part of that organization structure. So, I think the dialogue between different departments within organizations is fascinating to see how that grows. For us, because we’re specifically focused on Statement of Work and services procurement, generally, our stakeholders, our procurement, or financers, obviously, our users will be buying managers and suppliers and all sorts of different parties. And but for you guys going into consulting for organizations. I imagine that must be quite challenging initially, in some cases, to make sure that the right people around the table and the right parties are being represented. Do you find that the case?

Jessica Holt:         42:58       Yeah, definitely, it’s finding that decision maker and also how the value of what you’re delivering is going to benefit that decision maker. So you right procurement typically are trying to solve compliance or typically a cost saving benefit. Whereas HR come from a different perspective. And I think this is where, from a talent ecosystem perspective. Talent doesn’t always sit in procurement, procurement is services. And so that’s where you need to in it’s not trying to disrupt everything that they’ve done in the past, but it’s just starting to chip away at some of those trends or ways of engaging resources and just validating is that the best way to engage them? And how can we work more collaboratively together? And like you say, how can we transition from a worker engaged here into the permanent workforce as and when we need it, because there is a war for the talent. And that’s ultimately where everyone tends to say it is like, they just want to get hold of that resource talent. So I think really uncovering all that, using your data, asking some questions, making sure that you’re speaking to procurement to the business managers and an HR and really getting an analysis of what that one what that organization’s business objectives are, but also what the behaviors are and the compliance that they go through. And then coming up with a solution and go right, this is where we’re going to start today, small chip away, let’s start to build out that talent ecosystem so that you’ve got all those options, and it’s been communicated into the business. And then over time, you will see this massive change in how you benefit from a diverse, more flexible, more skilled resource than you probably ever have before. And some of those costs could be diverted into something else that will help you grow. So it’s really interesting and impactful and I’m massively passionate about and having done it for so many years now, and setting up for a number of organizations, it is absolutely such an interesting product to be able to solution with a client. And the more that you partner in engage, the more value you get out of it, because there are so many different tweaks that you can do to actually build that proposition out for them, and blend into what their existing structures are.

Jonny Dunning:   45:26       Yeah, and it must be fascinating from just a people perspective. You’re dealing with a population of people within your consultancy ecosystem, your population, and community sorry, and then you’re seeing that kind of blend in and merge with the internal employees within an organization that already exists. So I think from that side, I can see I’d be really fascinating as well, it sounds like an exciting time for this model, along with some other models, where companies just having to get their act together. And so if we just look at set, let’s take an example of a company that doesn’t really isn’t sophisticated, or mature in managing their kind of talent ecosystem. How are you seeing companies trying to fill gaps at the moment? And what are the risks you’re seeing around people, maybe not doing it the right way?

Jessica Holt:         46:25       I think the typical route is just paying more money to get that resource. So, it’s like a war for the talent. And if you pay a higher rate, then you’re going to get that resource. So there is a definite cost implication there. But like we’ve suggested before, to hide any of those rate cards, or pre-employment checks or speed to deliver, they are absolutely pushing them under services, procurement. Because it’s just seen as one fixed amount, and you can create, whatever the outcome is being what the service they’re providing. So unlike we’ve taught that the risk there really is sort of future risk that’s building up layer and layer of any HMRC investigation if it ever happened. But also, it’s the time and investment in that resource if they’re engaged as a contractor, actually, what’s the notice period that you’ve got on there? Is it a week? Is it a day? How engaged is that resource in your long term need when they can actually just move on to something else, as it transpires or somebody else offers another rate? So it’s securing that talent and that knowledge in the organization if that’s the only route that you can get additional resource. You want it to be on your terms, not the contractors terms and, and really a contractor there is for short term, flexible need and potentially niche scales, not a BAU, the analysis that I’ve been doing recently 30 to 40% of the contract of book is just bog standard business as usual rule if it’s business as usual, it’s running your organization, never mind whether they’ve got an image skills are anything but you think about suddenly, that whole 30% of the resource going actually, there’s an NIC increase, I want another 2, 3, 4 percent, you overlay that up, this is massive financial risk, just waiting to happen again, and it’s all the workload then to go and find that resource and engage in through. And I think it’s really finding an organization that can come and help you, delayer all those complexities and really understand what is it that is a fear for the business manager, because it might be different to what the home, the HR community might think, they’ll be trying to co-employment risk will be probably one of them, or tenure will be one of their key ones. But for business managers just delivering the project on time is somebody that they know that’s reliable. So, it’s difficult, I think.

Jonny Dunning:   49:21       Yeah. So I mean, do you often see, one of the things I’ve certainly hearing the market is where there are those gaps, and where companies are being kind of wrong footed by IR35. Or, for whatever reason, suddenly lost some people, quite often those gaps get filled by the big consultancies, which may do a fantastic job, but it’s certainly not likely to be cheap. And so there can be a kind of a knee jerk reliance on those bigger providers. And I think it comes down to kind of workforce, diversity and resilience of your workforce. So you wouldn’t want 40% of your workforce to be able to leave on a week’s notice, if they’re that critical to business as usual, then there’s a strategic, misalignment there, perhaps. And the same is true of the services procurement supply chain. So some of those supply chains might be very small consultancies, some of them might be very large, everything in between, especially service providers, some of them may be even, like, tiny micro service providers. And if an organization can’t see them properly, and they can’t, and they don’t have the ability to go out to them, then they don’t have a resilient supply chain. Because if, for example, they fall out with a big provider, or that big fight is not working for them, or whatever it might be, they can’t do the job. And all of these things need to be visible. So in line with what you’re saying, some parts of this chain, look, you could come from the outside and go, “Oh, my God, that sounds like a complete nightmare,” how the hell are we going to get on top of all of this? There’s a high likelihood that most companies that are in any way kind of developed and mature are going to have a pretty good control, generally over their permanent hiring program. And their contingent workforce. There’s great technology out there for both of those areas, there’s clear solutions that intermediaries can provide the wrap their arms around it, and look after that properly, I think where it falls down is newer areas, or areas that are now being addressed or looking to be addressed like Statement of Work, where most people don’t use central systems, a lot of spreadsheets, they don’t have contract their supplier milestones very easily, all that sort of stuff. Areas like employee consultancy, and new areas, whether it’s gig interactions, and someone’s buying time from somebody of a marketplace, for example, those are the areas that needs to be brought under control, and to catch up with the maturity of the core workforce. But then you’ve got to overlay that with a view of everything, say, you may have permanent contracts under control as to how you do it. But does it make sense in your strategy? I think that’s gonna be a really interesting challenge for organizations over the next 12 ~ 24 months, as you said earlier, and before I look back, say, five years, there were a few people talking about, like total talent management. And whenever they spoke about it, I always, was okay. Yeah, I bet it is. But I feel like that’s cuz I always just got a thought people just saying that’s a bit of a buzzword. And they want to sound like this, it’s meaningful. But at that point in time, I personally didn’t feel like it was being meaningfully addressed by companies, service providers, tech providers. It was something that people wanted to theorize about, and had grandiose plans for the future of this kind of panacea. But I feel that that is a genuine thing that is really, that is important now, and the companies are properly addressing service providers are properly addressing, and is a real thing that not only companies can do, but they really need to do.

Jessica Holt:         52:49       Yeah, absolutely. And I think total talent management is about the way that you’re engaging that resource and managing them in but I think the ecosystem is understanding everything the way talent can be engaged, but also acquired or developed, or using a partner organization. So that ecosystem can be options that are outside of just what a staffing provider can support you on, there can be the organization’s ecosystem, and how you can actually acquire those resources over time. So yeah, I do think it’s evolving. But I think the total talent management, I still don’t think that companies have really brought the procurement bit into it, I think they still think it’s a HR thing. And that really, I think, whether you call it ecosystem or total talent management, if you can get both of those parties talking together, one, you know, there’ll be stuff that can be routed into the Statement of Work, and vice versa and routed back. But also they’ll then start to go, “Well, why are we doing that when we can build our own talent?” So you just got to start those conversations really, and bring those functions together and I don’t think, in fact, no, there is one organization that I’ve seen do that. And that’s been partnering with a staffing firm in the middle of it all, but I think most organizations are very separate.

Jonny Dunning:   54:26       Yeah, you make a very good point. Because procurement people typically won’t be where we thinking about talent. They’re thinking about supply suppliers resource competencies, but it comes back to this wider conversation about, is it about the work or the workers? Is it focusing on one or the other? I think it’s not a question of you only focus on one or the other. But when you’re looking at a requirement, what how should this piece of work get done? I think fundamental has to start with what is the work that is required? How does it need to be delivered? And that can give you a clear guide towards is likely to fit into this type of model or that type of model, you’d like to serve it best. But still within that provision of resource, talent is still an absolutely critical factor talent within your suppliers’ talent within your contingent workforce, talent within your own employees set. So you’re right, it does need to come together. And but I think there are ways to do that. And that’s, I find it fascinating that, that kind of misalignment or potential conflict between, for example, HR and talent and procurement, and that needs to come together somehow. And I think there’s definitely some clever people in the market who are, whether they’re real procurement leaders, or finance chiefs or HR experts who are really driving that process where it does link up and it does become coherent, because all the CEO cares about is, what is the most effective use of all of the resources that I’ve got to hand to drive the business forward and achieve our objectives? So basically, we talked about reducing the risks around Statement of Work doing it properly. We’ve talked about the talent shortages, how that’s driving kind of hiring manager behavior. The challenges in pushing work in the right direction. What about the challenges in actually taking these type of offerings and this type of message to the market in terms of when you’re working with a client in one area, and you look to kind of offer these wider services? Or whether you’re going into new clients? How receptive are organizations? Because you’re going to get to see all of the things that they don’t do very well and really get inside those organizations?

Jessica Holt:         56:50       Yeah, I mean, I think depending on what the community of the individual, the stakeholder, the client is, it’s either cost saving, risk mitigation, or building some of that niche talent, they can’t find the talent, how do we build themselves? Those are the three key things. And I think, like I mentioned with the COVID, it’s actually how to keep them engaged and mentor them when it could be remotely, that they’re on boarded into that assignment. So how do you bring them into the culture of that organization when they’re not actually sitting next to anyone, so what technology can be used to give them access to that community? So whether that’s through Learning Portal or other individuals on different assignments, so those are the three key things and it’ll be like a light bulb, you’ll suddenly go, these are the savings we could do if you just took 30% of your population, and you’d rerouted them through this particular mechanism. It’s like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s a lot of saving.” So it can be that or it can be just exploring that, okay, you might want to always use Statement of Work services for body shopping. But actually, you’re getting the best rate there. And if you’re saying, I’ve got a resource that I need for so many days, how can you benchmark that rate card to make sure you’re not overpaying in that area, and then also the mechanisms to make sure that the governance and compliance on that resource has happened so protecting yourself? And that’s really where the sort of technology, whether it’s through a Statement of Work type technology, or whether it’s through an MSP piece of technology?

Jonny Dunning:   58:32       Yeah, there’s a lot of trust involved, for the end clients with intermediaries now, I mean, how do so. So workforce intermediary workforce solution providers, as I said, I see the permanent recruitment world as being pretty mature, good tech, good practices, good providers. Same with contingent workforce, it’s very much a solved problem. Obviously, there’s always ways to make things better, but it’s quite mature. And how do the Workforce Solutions providers, build that credibility in pushing into this wider remit? Where they’re then involved in a more strategic conversation, which is about that? What are all the channels we can use? And what should go where? How do they build up that credibility? But I mean, obviously, if you bring in somebody like yourself, who’s got great heritage in this area, that’s credibility in itself, the people there. And but there’s, I feel like there’s a bit of chicken and egg in the market. And certainly with things like services procurement, would you say that’s fair?

Jessica Holt:         59:32       And yeah, I think so if you look at all those two routes, for example, or even three weeks really permanent, but contingent labor and Statement of Work and services procurement, it’s transactional, it’s managing a process. What we’re talking about here is moving up that value change chain and making them question the decisions They’re making on how they engage talent, which isn’t just a transaction, you press a button, that’s what you get, it’s really thinking about what’s the value to the business in a different route. So we tend to, first of all do a very short audit of what their current population is, or their hiring, their behaviors. And those three areas, what are the risk motivated locations, that we can be able to avoid the cost savings and the talent that we can generate for them. And one of those routes will be something that I think actually, this is going to really add some value and give me a bit more of an edge. And so we just start to pilot and it can be literally one head, they then decide that actually, yeah, this is gonna work and we start to be indicator out. And you’ll see that over a period of sort of three to six months. That internal reform referral, and the ambassadors that you then generate within that organization help escalate. So it is a long journey, and you [unclear 1:01:02] for that period of time, it’s not something that’s just suddenly gonna be able to just quickly transform everything. It’s a case of finding that real good pilot it to sort of start that value that you can now deliver through one of these solutions.

Jonny Dunning:   1:01:18    Yeah, and it needs commitment, basically. 

Jessica Holt:         1:01:21    Yeah, absolutely. 

Jonny Dunning:   1:01:23    Because it’s interesting. So, if an organization has a Workforce Solutions partner, if they really trust them, and they really give them access to everything, they don’t try and say, “Yes, you can deal with a contingent, and you can deal with a permanent, but you’re not getting anywhere near Statement of Work.” If because it’s all about getting work done. If it’s all open and transparent with the solutions partner, then they’re in a position to then spot opportunities for managing risk, creating better value. And looking at how things are categorized. But the trust element, and that openness is really critical. And I guess sometimes, if you look at the juxtaposition between how HR approaches and procurement approaching it, sometimes from different directions, in some companies, maybe sometimes a non-connected person getting involved in the conversation can help facilitate that, where it might be quite tricky, politically, internally.

Jessica Holt:         1:02:21    Yeah, and I was just gonna say that, I’m talking as if Resource Solutions are already engaged in through an MSP and RPO got an existing relationship, it’s not always the case, and can be that, it’s procured as a separate piece of work, or it’s a supplier into another MSP provider, if organizations are thinking, well, we’re committed now to the next three or five years with this organization, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take benefit of this, because there are other ways to engage this service, because it is different to what a typical staffing provider will bring you. So yeah, it’s been open and like I say, it’s not gonna be resolved everything. And there are a lot of decision makers in organizations, but I think it’s having that conversation and just really exploring is there is there a big benefit that we can do from supporting this. And the beauty of the employee consultancy model is it can span across a number of different challenges in sort of engaging resource.

Jonny Dunning:   1:03:25    Excellent stuff, really, really interesting. So just to kind of wrap things up. And obviously, you’ve only been at resource solutions, relatively recently, you’ve come into the business. So in terms of the kind of exciting challenges that you’ve got lined up, I’m sure there’s all sorts of things in the works. But are there any particularly exciting models where this is being used employ consultancy model is being used in a particular sector, or countries or things that you think are particularly that you’re particularly interested in excited about over the next couple of years?

Jessica Holt:         1:04:01    I think some parts of the world are really still on lockdown. And they’ve got to come up with some different ways of getting resource that can’t move in and out of the country. So you look at places like Singapore and Australia, they really are in a difficult position. So I do think there are lots of different complexities and I think, where for me the advantage here is that because we’re obviously part of Robert Walters Group, but there is such an expanse of our coverage around the world, we really do understand those legislative or challenges around resource coming in and out, we’re living and breathing it. And that has shifted quite a lot and keeps shifting as restrictions get lifted and whatever. So I think for me, the really interesting bit now is the impact of how this solution is going to evolve with that pandemic, so is there going to be more remote working? Great, we can sort that out, they can access talent, because they can’t get it into the country somewhere else. But overlaying it or is still the same challenges, engagement, retention, compliance, building that future talent pool. I think those are the core bits. But we’ve just got another layer of COVID, which ...

Jonny Dunning:   1:05:27    It basically the same old challenges with a whole load of new challenges chucked on top.

Jessica Holt:         1:05:36    Yeah. And that’s great. It’s fine. 

Jonny Dunning:   1:05:39    Like I said, it’s going to be sort of stuff. Yeah, exactly. It’s going to keep people like, you and I are very busy. And I love problem solving, and finding solutions. And I think that’s what the world is trying to do in so many different areas. And it’s really interesting to be part of this side of it when it comes to the kind of workforce and the delivery of work. So Jessica, I really enjoyed that conversation. Thank you very much. And I’ve certainly learned some good points from it. But good luck with everything and sounds like this, some exciting opportunities coming up. And let’s stay in touch and see how it pans out.

Jessica Holt:         1:06:17    Yeah, lovely. Thanks very much, Jonny. Appreciate it. 

Jonny Dunning:   1:06:20    Excellent. Thank you. 

Jessica Holt:         1:06:21    Bye. 

Jonny Dunning:   1:06:22    Bye.


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