The state of Contingent recruitment 2019 – key themes from the world of non-permanent work

With ATC’s annual Contingent Workforce Workshop coming up in Melbourne on 12 November, I thought now is a good time to reflect on what has been happening in the important area of non-permanent Talent management.

What do Australia’s Procurement, Talent and HR leaders think about their use of Contingent workers and what would they like to do better?

Here are our observations from 2019.

Statement of Work (SoW)

Engagement of workers through statement-of-work or other services contracts continues to be a pressing challenge for many organisations.

One employer I had met with had three times as many external workers with building and systems access than they actually had working, and no way of knowing who should and shouldn’t have access.

Many of these people were engaged through SoWs with little visibility of who was doing the work and when.

Another client had a culture of using SoW to engage time-based IT contractors purely as a way to circumvent scrutiny, resulting in far more spend in this area than on regular contractors.

There is certainly lots of room for improvement in terms of how organisations manage their SoW workers.


There has really only been three full VMS technology platforms operating in Australia up until now: SAP Fieldglass, Hays 3SS and Beeline.

However, in the past year, Coupa has started promoting their Contingent Workforce module, especially in the SoW and services management area. We have also heard of Salesforce modules being used to provide a Contingent labour technology solution.

Whether these newer entrants challenge the main three will be interesting to see over the next couple of years – and as with all technology, the only consistent is change.

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

According to Staffing Industry Analysts’ research into the MSPs that started in 2019, 32 percent involved organisations replacing their existing MSP with a new one. The remaining 68 percent are awarding an MSP for the first time.

We continue to see a lot of activity in both areas in the Australian market, with a strong interest from first time users and periodic turnover of existing programs.

In addition, we have seen a couple of major Australian organisations in-source their MSPs rather than using an external provider. There have been a few recruitment agencies trying to move into the MSP area and at least one painful exit.


We have started to see more buyers looking for diversity capability from their suppliers of contractors and temps.

I am on the Board of the Australian Network on Disability and it was great to see the NSW Government tell their Contingent recruitment suppliers that holding AND’s innovative “Disability Confident Recruiter” accreditation would be very highly regarded.

Strategies to get more women into traditionally male dominated fields such as IT are fairly common, but we are also now being regularly asked to assist with Indigenous diversity objectives. There have also been a couple of requests to assist with age diversity in the technology space.

The future is looking positive in this space.

Deemed employment risk

While most organisations are increasingly keen to address this, one organisation we were talking to went the other way and offer their contractors sick leave, annual leave and company cars, despite them already being offered a higher hourly rate to compensate for not receiving such benefits.

Their logic was that by providing the benefits usually associated with permanent staff, they would improve their employment brand in the market.

This approach is the opposite of what is normally seen, and appears to increase the risk of deemed employment, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Contingent labour remains a key part of the Australian economy, with no sign of that changing as we move into 2020. Exciting times lie ahead!

Cover image: Shutterstock

This article is contributed by Hays Talent Solutions.

If you are an in-house Talent Acquisition professional or Procurement specialist who manages a Contingent Workforce, this 1-day workshop is for you. Log on to our website to register your interest and we will send you further details and a registration link!

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