View from the Boardroom: Building the Staffing Firm of the Future


David Francis: Okay. All right. Brilliant. It looks like we are live. Hello. Welcome back to the keynote session, a view from the boardroom building, the staffing firm of the future. My name is David Francis. I'm a vice president of research here at Talent Tech Labs. Our host for the technology day for the World Staffing Summit joined by an extremely illustrious group of panelists today, and extremely excited for the conversation.

David Francis: Our goal for this topic is really to understand from the leading companies in the world some of the conversations and strategic thinking around how the industry is going to evolve. What are we going to look like in 10 years from now? And how are we going to bridge the gap from where the industry's at today to working models and what companies are going to look like in the future joined by Joanie Bily, the chief workforce officer for EmployBridge Chris Hartman Chief Development Officer for Allegis Group, Thomas Jajeh, the Chief Digital Officer for Randstad source rate and Eric Gilpin senior Vice President of sales for Upwork.

David Francis: And I'd like to give each of you a chance to introduce yourself and your organization and what you do at your respective firms, Joanie, why don't we start with you? 

Joanie Bily: Sure. I'd be glad to. Thanks, David. So Joanie Bily as you mentioned, I'm with Employeebridge, I wear a couple of hats for Employeebridge.

Joanie Bily: I'm the chief workforce analyst, and I do a lot of speaking around employment trends and what's happening in the workplace. And in addition to that I'm the president of the RemX business division, which staffs in the professional and call center staffing area. And then I also sit on the board of the American staffing association which is an incredible opportunity with my colleague Chris Hartman here.

Joanie Bily: And that's pretty much it for me, 

David Francis: Really welcome. Welcome to the panel Joanie. Thomas?

Thomas Jajeh: Hi I'm Thomas. I'm the Chief Digital Officer for Randstad Sourceright. Came to run staffing in 2016 by an acquisition. My own company Drago was acquired, which was a freelance marketplace. So we were in competition from Europe with, without work or unions notice at that time runs the social ideas.

Thomas Jajeh: One of the largest outsourcing companies in the world, we'd run MSP RPO programs globally across the globe with Randstad largest enterprise clients. And my role is mainly to look after innovation, digital strategy and, you know, have the company evolve the models and have our clients to you know, deliver or help our clients with our delivery and in an innovative way.

David Francis: Fantastic. Welcome. And Chris?. 

Chris Hartman: I think I appreciate being on here with these three other tremendous people. I'm Chris Hartman, I'm the Global Development Officer for Allegis Group. I've been here for about 30 years which all shows in the gray of my beard. Now, as I see it pop up on the screen there, I've worked with most of our different operating companies.

Chris Hartman: Many of you know Aerotek, Teksystems, Aston Carter, AGS. I was lucky enough to spend about seven years running our international operations over in Europe and now work on a lot of industry items for our company, as well as a lot of special projects of trying to do our own transformation internally to keep up with the rest of.

David Francis: Fantastic. Great to have you and last but not least, Eric. 

Eric Gilpin: Awesome. Thank you, David. And good to see everyone as well today. And so, I've been working with upwork and being of the organization for almost 6 years. So I joined right after the marriage of Elance and oDesk as they came together. And in my role today, I lead all of our customer-facing teams.

Eric Gilpin: And so both client acquisition, client growth and retention, as well as talent delivery for our enterprise business. I'm happy to be here. 

David Francis: Brilliant. So our, the way we're going to kind of structure this conversation, that the topic is pretty broad and there's a lot of different directions we could go and we can kind of go all over the place.

David Francis: And so kind of a framework I'm going to use to try to stretch the conversation. We're going to start with a workforce solution model, kind of what those look like today and how those are likely to change. We're going to talk about marketplaces and online staffing and what kind of their impact is gonna be.

David Francis: And, you know, the extent to which staffing companies are going to adopt or not. We're going to talk a little bit about the role of technology inside the staffing firm of the future around the hybridization of work and potential branch consolidation. And then we'll end on some broader trends, workforce trends that are happening and kind of how those are going to drive changes and perhaps bring in some new models to the business.

David Francis: So with that let's jump right in. I'm gonna, we'll start with works for solution models. As I said, we'll start specifically with actually MSP and VMS programs. And historically, or at least over the last, you know, 20 years or so you know, a lot of the transformation that's happened in the industry has been driven by the rise of adoption of MSP programs and kind of the professionalization of how staffing is procured.

David Francis: At this point, the market is fairly well saturated. You know, the most recent data I saw was, you know, 60 plus percent of large corporates have an MSP program. You know, 80 plus percent have VMS technology. And along with that are managing that internally. And so a lot of the, you know, a lot of programs are mature.

David Francis: The initial cost savings have, you know, been born out. And so the question is like, where does the model go from here? What kind of new service models are coming to play? What innovation is happening in terms of service delivery and, you know, kind of what's next? What is an MSP 2.O. Look like

David Francis: who wants to be the brave soul to, to answer this one first 

Thomas Jajeh: I can start. I think you know, we all We also had to development. You just mapped out David, but as you said the very first MSP programs were mainly, you know, cost transparency programs. And then there was a lot of supply negotiation and first cost savings were achieved.

Thomas Jajeh: But I think what, where we are now, we are already past that stage in, in a lot of very large international enterprises and MSP programs are not only about cost. It's really about. Access to talent. It's often about relationships, it's about the talent journey. You know, a lot of elements that we traditionally know from the RPO space, from the perm talents are now also applying to, to the contingent market.

Thomas Jajeh: And then companies notice that they can procure the talent, like, I mean, shouldn't be saying this, but like toilet paper, you know, requisition out, you get three offers, you take the cheapest. That's not the way the challenge is going to treat it today. So, companies are starting up direct sourcing programs, leveraging their brand to engage and nurture candidate relationships.

Thomas Jajeh: Over time, we saw talent pooling platforms coming up. We saw other trends like, you know, you go into workforce planning, consulting the hiring, then. We see a movement from, you know, like a job requisition focus to more skills-based focused consultancy in terms of, you know, where, how do we actually write a requisition?

Thomas Jajeh: Diversity and inclusion plays a huge role in those programs as well. And ultimately we see now more and more HR actually getting involved by the first programs. I think like 5, 6, 7, 8 years ago when I got engaged. With MSPs. And I asked the procurement leaders, you know, what's your relationship with HR?

Thomas Jajeh: There was none. And I think nowadays HR has a strong opinion on the contingent workforce as well. We're going into more of the total tablet architecture. We're trying to aggregate data. So there's a lot that's happening in the space beyond cost savings. 

Thomas Jajeh: Yeah. 

Chris Hartman: And I would agree with Thomas there in terms of how evolution is going.

Chris Hartman: I like the way you talked about it, you know, what used to be kind of very transactional, get a rec, fill a rec. They wanted control. They wanted transparency. That's evolving into, you know, from that transactional to more of a strategic and I have a set of work. What's the best way to get that done? And it could be a combination of internal.

Chris Hartman: It can be a combination. Consultants could be contractors, could be the work platform. But, you know, what is the best way to accomplish this goal? And I see that continuing to evolve to not just have work, but Hey, I have these goals and objectives. I'm trying to get them. What's the best way to apply an amount of work to get that done in the best way possible and continue to do it.

Chris Hartman: I think the other thing we've seen from clients much more proactively is really how to think. Evolve from kind of getting analysis and insight into what's going on in my workforce, but also the Thomas' point, you know, where all those things happen.

David Francis: Brilliant. Joanine, anything that. 

Joanie Bily: Yeah, I was just going to add, I, and I think both Chris and Thomas really laid it out perfectly, but due to, you know, the current state of the labor market and right now it is so difficult to find talent.

Joanie Bily: I think that is also driving the change in. Yes. It originally started as cost efficiencies and driving down costs. And we certainly saw that impact our industry, but in today's environment, it really is about finding the skilled talent to meet their demands, to meet their goals and objectives. And we're seeing more project-based work.

Joanie Bily: We're also seeing they're willing to pay more. For the work that they need to get done. So cost though, it's always important in today's environment. It's more about the quality and the productivity and the solutions that can be brought to the table. So the focus is. How can they have a greater reach to accessing the talent and looking at different ways that they can do that different ways that they can get their work done.

Joanie Bily: And I think they're looking for innovation and looking for that, you know, what's kind of that next phase, as you said the future state of this world, but I think it's moving in the right direction and it's great to see that HR. Is getting involved in it. And it's not just procurement because the focus does need to be on retention.

Joanie Bily: It needs to be on attraction and then retention. And I think companies are getting smart and they're realizing that. And then they're putting that strategy in place to make sure that's there for their full time and their contingent or workforce 

David Francis: That's fantastic. And I wanna kind of dive into a couple of the areas that you mentioned.

David Francis: I think the one we'll start with, you know, kind of this convergence of HR and in contingent topic of kind of total talent management it's been talked about for quite some time. And I would say mostly aspirational. For the most part from what we've observed that said, you know, we were in a position where, you work with HR teams, we work with talent acquisition teams kind of day in, day out and helping them with the strategy.

David Francis: And we've seen companies get a lot more strategic, particularly I think Joanie to your point, driven by the need to retain people and just the need to access talent. And they're getting there. They're getting a lot smarter. You know, they're kind workforce planning strategies and, you know, first of all, about including the kind of their internal workers, as opposed to just going out their internal workforce instead of going to market and trying to hire new folks.

David Francis: But also thinking. About their contingent workforce, as you know, a part of the broader workforce strategy. Now, my question is like, where, you know, the, there, there still, isn't kind of a total talent platform. Although, you know, you can make an argument that any is trying to get there, you know, are, how far are we away from kind of that becoming a reality where, you know, the role of you know, one of your organizations is doing kind of total, you know, workforce planning and management.

David Francis: And, you know, and contingent is just kind of one part of that, but it's included. 

Eric Gilpin: Maybe I'll jump in there, David. Everything that everyone shared the the rise, actually, maybe not the rise, maybe the revenge of HR in this space has accelerated significantly over the last two to three years.

Eric Gilpin: You know, if you think about finance and procurement have played such an integral role on the kind of contingent workspace and this idea of total talent management, especially this accelerated with COVID. I think HR is driving a broader conversation about this idea of total talent management and how we commingle both our full-time as well as our kind of flexible staff and looking for ways to, you know, Kind of go through this grand redesign, you know, similar to what we saw with the Spanish flu night, 1918 with the kind of restructuring of healthcare.

Eric Gilpin: I think there's this moment of grand redesign that's going on in the workforce. And HR is increasingly becoming a bigger driver in that even specific at Upwork. You know, we spend a lot of time with the business product marketing teams, engineering teams, software development, marketing support.

Eric Gilpin: And just the increasing amount of conversation that we've had at HR. We've had to build a whole HR client strategy team because they're really looking at how do I leverage scale and innovation across all of the different work types? Not necessarily keeping them separate so much we've seen in the past.

Eric Gilpin: And so I think it's only gonna, the intent is really high. The technology will show up and I think your call out on Workday and their VMS acquisitions. 

Thomas Jajeh: Great. So. Yeah. And there's more on the technology side that has changed in the last few years. I believe it's not only Workday. If you look at the whole talent intelligence field that's coming up and the convergence of the internal mobility player into RPO, and they're starting to connect into contingent programs as well.

Thomas Jajeh: You know, we have now. I think COVID just echo what was said. COVID has accelerated all of this and the time scarcity is driving HR really take a more strategic look at it, but also now we have the technological means to actually aggregate data from different data sources. This, and we have the ATS, you know, where you have candidates.

Thomas Jajeh: Sometimes you have a CRM, you have your HRS, you have your VMS, it was pretty siloed before and you need, you know, search and match technology. That can sit on top of all of this and aggregate. It will probably not replace all of this. That's what work is trying to do the bid one system, but I still think there's still a fair chance that companies will have different silos.

Thomas Jajeh: And then there needs to be something on top of it that connects all of those things and brings together the talent and allows the recruiter to seamlessly look at. Well, the types of talents at one center, I think the technology platforms like the lack of higher score, but even, you know, glowed, hitch, whatever they all work in that direction.

Thomas Jajeh: And we'll see more convergence, I think, in the software market, into total talent in the next years as well. 

David Francis: Chris, any reaction to your head? 

Chris Hartman: I just took to I guess what they were talking about relative to HR. And I think one of the big transformations in HR needs to continue to be made as not being HR, right?

Chris Hartman: Like they've got to get deeper into the business itself. Like we're talking about like, Hey, there's this group that just serves people to the business units. And I think what we found is partnering out to really, you need to understand what that person's trying to get done. And then if you are an HR or even a previous.

Chris Hartman: You can help advise the business on the best way to get that done. Right? Cause a lot of times it could be just grabbing something from Upwork. Hey, you just need a person to kind of fill in here, could be a current position, could be contingent, could be, Hey, you know, this is an expertise we don't have.

Chris Hartman: Let's go spend a boatload of money on the McKinseys of the world and everything else like it. But right now, HR is where I might've been a few years ago, which is there. They're kind of more taking orders as opposed to partnering with, Hey, what are we trying to all get accomplished here? And I think.

Chris Hartman: Loving the idea that they are getting involved with that evolution. But now we've got to kind of prove that out the same way the IS teams that I've worked with through the years, I've had to prove that once you get invited to the table, that's critical, but then staying there at the table is a whole different caliber.

Chris Hartman: Yeah. 

David Francis: Fair point. Well, for the sake of time, I want to transition. I want to one, I guess, final comment for you, Eric, I guess in the role of MSP and kind of how all of these things play together, you is I understand, you know, Upwork doesn't work through MSPs. And so those channels that you have a lot of enterprise clients and they're pretty substantial, but those have been kind of negotiated directly kind of outside the program and what I understand, you know, it wasn't, for lack of trying, you want to expand on that a little bit?

Eric Gilpin: It definitely wasn't lack of effort. You know, I think the I mean today you know, we set, you know, side by side with all different types of work type programs, including MSPs and VMS and consulting companies.

Eric Gilpin: And so in a lot of the work that Upwork does today, Traditionally, hasn't been managed by MSP or VMS. And so, we do a lot within a product engineering team, sales and marketing teams. We have a very big sow agency type business that we're running. And so we've, you know, out of necessity, been effective not working through those channels.

Eric Gilpin: But it wasn't through necessarily a lack of effort. We just haven't necessarily been able to connect the dots and be successful there. 

David Francis: Fair point, the the one last kind of question I'll post for the group we've seen internally kind of getting back to this idea about, you know, kind of, you know, HR transformation and how it impacts the total workforce.

David Francis: We've seen some companies that are getting pretty strategic around wanting to essentially better enable their hiring managers to be involved. Earlier in the recruiting process. And so instead of saying like, oh, you know, we need to hire these job rights. Let's go send it out to the recruiter to take care of that.

David Francis: Or in a contingent case, like, you know, let's end it up to that. The, you know, an MSP they want to have, you know, portals where hiring managers can go in can, can get involved kind of earlier. Are you seeing that with some of your clients and, you know, are you building tools kind of around hiring manager enablement and kind of getting those distributed through the Organization?

Eric Gilpin: I mean, I mean, the Upwork model is this kind of direct, you know, to talent access platform. Right? And if you think about just the demographic changes we've seen in the workforce, like a lot of our buyers are millennials today are gen Xers that are tech enabled. And so having these self service tools on their phone then allows them to, you know, both, you know, build relationships, drive conversation engage, you create contracts, provide feedback.

Eric Gilpin: It's been a very big enabler to the success of platforms is by, you know, putting technology in the end-users not just on the hiring management side, but even the talent side. And I think there's great examples of that even in traditional providers where they're leveraging technology for those.

Joanie Bily: And I'll add on to what Eric is saying, because I think we're going to just see more and more of that happening. And part of it is, you know, again, the market that we're in today, it's all about speed and finding that quality talent as fast as you can. And I think when hiring managers are enabled and have the tools right at their fingertips to be able to access the talent.

Joanie Bily: They're probably the best person, right. To make that decision. So I would think the trend certainly in the future is that you will see more hiring managers getting involved and technology is only going to accelerate. 

Chris Hartman: Yeah. A hundred hundred percent on that journey in terms of when you think of hiring managers, like the research we've done, it's like 70% of the wrecks that recruiters get are wrong anyway.

Chris Hartman: Right. You know, and why is that? It's because a hiring manager is trying to get his process done as quick as possible. So he's grabbing something, thrown that out there, and then there's all this back and forth to refine it to, to get it narrowed down to, oh, this is the type of person you want to because your rec says.

Chris Hartman: And, you know, candidates are saying the same thing about the requirements. So I think the more we can use technology to better do that. And if we could, you know, dump the job description, you know, that's just kind of boiler plate to say, I need somebody with these skills to do these things. And it sounds less like everything else and more here again, I keep getting back to what's the work I need to get done.

Chris Hartman: And how does that fit together. I think the more we can get hiring managers into that process or purchasing manager, whoever it is, then they can't say, Hey, look, you didn't get me my people, or you didn't give me a good job, right? Like it becomes a never ending kind of, we don't like each other when it should be, oh, here's what I'm trying to do.

Chris Hartman: This is what you've built together. Here's what it is. You know, we're all using apps to order our own food and everything else. And we're picking whether we add eggs or cucumbers or all the rest of it on it, and it no big deal. You know, as somebody who spent 30 seconds to get the job prescription. Right.

Chris Hartman: And it's like, oh, why are you slowing me down? Like we got to get stuff done here. Just get me what I need. It's like, well, I can't get you what I need until you tell me what you need. You know, we kind of have that conversation. 

David Francis: Yeah. You must be spying on me when I ordered pizza last night. Chris, but 

Thomas Jajeh: David, I would add one disclaimer to that at least, you know, from my opinion, I agree with everything that was said.

Thomas Jajeh: So I think we will see an increase in hiring manager injections, and I think. For the more long term spend in, in companies, you know, it makes total sense for the hiring manager to tap into a talent pool and to, you know, have direct contact. I think where I would want to make a disclaimer is that we'll see.

Thomas Jajeh: More complex higher-end decisions, you know, in, in this, you know, looking at what we said before, we'll see total talent. There are combined questions, you know, what is this? Is this a, do I have to look for a contingent worker for a problem? There are DE&I criteria, probably that, how do we deal with hiring manager preferences?

Thomas Jajeh: If then maybe you have a preference for a certain group of people. So I think there's yes, there is a big proportion of the cake that hiring managers can tap into. And I think there will be the set of more complex, hard to fill roles where we want to, as a company, have a position where we, where this model is not the right model.

David Francis: Got it. Great point. In terms of the other, you know, kind of big workforce solution model that, you know, in its early days right now, but seems to you know, potentially taking the world by storm is direct sourcing. And so curious about your opinions on two things. Number one, You know, how big is direct sourcing gonna get and, you know, number two, kind of what's the impact broadly on, know, the the staffing supply chain, the broader staffing industry, the folks that kind of benefiting by bringing the direct sourcing program for all the suppliers that are sourcing candidates.

David Francis: What's the deal with.

Thomas Jajeh: I can start if nobody jumps in. I At the end. I think again, it depends. So there are, it depends on the role and the complexity of the, you know, how repetitive with Direct sourcing and leveraging. I mean, it's not a new concept. I mean, we talked about a new concept, but it's actually just reporting right.

Thomas Jajeh: Using your brand to reach out to the market. Right. In person, we do that forever. And then continuing to, we just haven't been doing this. So, I think it's a great thing that companies are using their employer brand to engage with contingent workers as they do with their permanent employees.

Thomas Jajeh: And you know, it's most effective. If you have a high volume of repetition. And we're seeing customers that feel, you know, these easy to fill jobs let's end up, easy to fill in, are in, there are no easy to construct nowadays, but let's say easier to fill jobs in high volume, a call center agent role or similar where direct sourcing is a wonderful instrument.

Thomas Jajeh: If you have your very scarce, you know, purple squirrel that you are sourcing, and then I probably need suppliers that will still, you know, will always play a good role in that in, in that niche recruitment, because it's not. To nurture a relationship with a brand over a longer period of time, if you need some, you know, very specific unicorn once in a while.

Thomas Jajeh: So I think there's space for everything we've seen pro direct sourcing programs with, you know, 10 and 20% what a chair basically. And we've seen entire sourcing programs with nearly a hundred percent of it. Right. But then if you are 100% fit right programs, then you are. You know, you will have your call center, your customer service agent, and you do hundreds of thousands of these roles.

Chris Hartman: I think Thomas your point there, especially the part of, Hey, there, there's going to be lots of different models. I think that continues and there's the right models for the right time, the right right skill set. And when I was over in England, you know, direct sourcing is not new over there.

Chris Hartman: They've been using them for an extended period of time. We did not have direct sourcing as one of our capabilities when I was there, it was the kind of the traditional staffing operations. And to, to Thomas's point some accounts where, you know, we didn't spend any time on because the direct source groups were doing a great job and other ones we did, but the coming over here or coming back to the states, one of the things people I think underestimate is direct sourcing in the UK.

Chris Hartman: It's a much smaller geography, right? So your talents are located in a tighter space, your centers are all kind of a tighter space. Your competitors are all in a tighter space relative to it. So if you're doing the London financial services, The direct sourcing programs are just taking people from Lloyd's to put them in JP Morgan equipment financing.

Chris Hartman: Hey, let's just keep trading that all around, but they're all in London for the most part in it or Birmingham, you know, over the, or, you know, just a few centers here in the States. What I've found is our geography makes it much more difficult for one central team to own all the states, right? You can own the center, right?

Chris Hartman: And maybe you like, there's some programs who own them down in Raleigh for the different banks that might be out there, but there's all these fringe positions needed all over. And now remote work has even added to that, that it just changes the talent pools and what those direct sourcing teams can do.

Chris Hartman: So I see that it will continue to evolve. But like with any solution, I don't see anything kind of completely replacing everything, you know, we do today out there. 

David Francis: Great. Okay. So we'll w we'll move on. Thank you for that. I want to talk about marketplaces and specifically, Eric you know, Upwork the world's largest remote work platform micro services volume.

David Francis: You know, if we classified you as a staffing company, you know, you'd be like in the top 20, I'm doing about $3 billion a year in gross services volume. And if your growth rates continue with your kind of you know, high double digits for another 5 or 10 years, then, you know, you're somewhere in the top five.

David Francis: So the, I think the question is looking forward, you know, 10 years from now there's certainly something to that model the way you guys are doing business that's resonating with the market. And, you know, to what extent do you either start looking more like a traditional staffing business, for example, you've added some kind of curation services you know, already customer success is certainly embedded in, in, in your platform.

David Francis: To what extent do you know, kind of. Become a traditional staffing firm. That's just got a slightly different model or, you know, to what extent do some of the other players that we have here on the panel start looking more like, like an Upwork. 

Eric Gilpin: I mean, the answer is probably both, you know, in that scenario I think there's an awesome opportunity to converge on both sides, you know, to drive value, not only just for our customers, but for the talent that we serve.

Eric Gilpin: Yeah, I think specific for us, you you mentioned that we're a remote work platform, and as you can imagine, you know, prior to March of 2020, that was like probably our largest kind of customer hurdle you know, given choice you know, customer might access and their local markets to talent and you know, over the last two years, having that hurdle become one of our greatest differentiators is definitely been an unlock for us and just kind of challenging the status quo, getting customers to think differently.

Eric Gilpin: I would tell you that we would argue, we definitely would've liked to have gotten here in a different way. But but we didn't necessarily waste it. And I think that, you know, organizations have seen the value working in a flexible way and in a remote way, similar to providing content to your audience, you know, here today.

Eric Gilpin: And I think that will accelerate. And I think that's tons of advantages for work platforms like Upwork and traditional. You just staffing firms to be able to broaden their candidate base and pool that they can match, you know, talking to their customers. And so, you know, we started as a very tech enabled business, very much.

Eric Gilpin: Self-service, know, the last you know, five years we've aggressively invested in our enterprise, go to market understanding the, you know, the market potential there. And so we kind of have this technology when you need it, as well as people when you don't. And I think we'll continue to find ways to meet our customers where they are.

Eric Gilpin: And you know, stay rooted in this technology kind of go to market but really providing similar services that you see from other world leaders on the call. And my guess is that, you know, that digital transformation is coming, you know, from the other side as some of the other world leaders are trying to figure out how to digitize their supply chain and provide that same value back to their customers.

Eric Gilpin: And so I think it's, I think its both. 

Chris Hartman: Yeah, I think it's, I think it's both too. And I would say that if you ever want to figure out what's going to destroy the staffing. You know, put the staffing in business out and next, you just have to follow Eric. Right? Cause he was on the job boards and the other part, and that was going to kill a lot of staffing and recruiting.

Chris Hartman: Now Upwork read some of the articles that come out and it's like, Hey, that's going to come downstairs. Like I don't track trends. I just track where Eric's going. And then I'm like, all right, this is, we're going to 

David Francis: Proxy for disruption. Is that yeah. What company is at.

Eric Gilpin: So I was so excited about Upwork because. Our best customers in the job board space where traditional staffing firms. And I'm like, great. Like, and I remember 2004, 2005, talk to me or either you're like, you're going to get in the way of our clients. And so I still believe long-term and we have wonderful staffing customers. They use Upwork today, an awesome partner.

Eric Gilpin: So I'm not giving up. 

Chris Hartman: And now what I think with all the humorous side, I do think that's how these things kind of evolve. Right? Everyone say, Hey, this is going to kind of bring it down. Thomas talked earlier, like there's a lot of complex decisions that go into this, right? If it was just as easy to kind of swipe, right.

Chris Hartman: Swipe left and hire somebody, well, then we wouldn't have the EOC and the DOL and all these other things in our companies, wouldn't have these huge compliance compartments and everybody else doing all this work that has to happen. So there is a lot of touch that needs to go in when someone becomes kind of an employee.

Chris Hartman: And I don't think we are in this country. We're a long way from. The government and the regulations allowing for independent contractors for all, like there, we've got a lot of 18th and 19th century employment laws. They're going to stop us from doing all that even workers want to do. Right. And aren't going to get cleared up in the next 10 years beyond just the technical.

Thomas Jajeh: And the thing to that, the job board industry is a good example. Because it, you know, everybody said, it's going to kill the staffing industry, but actually the staffing industry became the biggest user ended up the job boards. And I think if we look and they actually, you know, companies were not able to cope with the number of job boards with the niece and all of that.

Thomas Jajeh: Staffing companies became more or less the operator of those job boards. And I think we'll see a similar convergence with the tenant marketplaces. There's, you know, Upwork is apparently the largest one, but there, if you look at the market of tenant marketplaces, then you have marketplaces in the meantime, how do you navigate that?

Thomas Jajeh: Especially in marketplaces and we're seeing adoption. We are working with a lot of those marketplaces. And then how do you bring this together? You know, the companies do not want silos, they're going into total talent. So somebody needs to also have to orchestrate this and bring this together into a total term picture.

Thomas Jajeh: And I think, yeah, I think Eric, as Eric said, you know, we'll see convergence from both sides and in the end we'll together, you know, deliver a better model for all our customers and for all our talents. I'm not scared of the future. I don't. 

Joanie Bily: Yeah. And I would agree too. I think. My panelists here on, on kind of what they're saying.

Joanie Bily: There, there definitely is going to be a convergence of you know, we're looking at ways, right. Certainly to do things differently at EmployBridge. Just as you I know Upwork is looking at different ways, obviously that they can capture, you know, more of the market share. So I would expect to see some of that come, you know, certainly come together, but I think we all would agree, you know, the pandemic.

Joanie Bily: Really just accelerated that change, right? The way that we work. In a lot of ways. It just, it actually helped, I think our industry in the sense of driving more technology, driving more of the ability to work virtually for our customers to be more open-minded about how they use talent. And allowing talent to work remotely.

Joanie Bily: I mean, we had to change right on a dime that, you know, if they wanted to stay in business, they were going to have to let people work from home. And I saw that really happened in the call center space where customers were never open minded to having, you know, they wanted. There are temporary workers or there temporary associates to be in that call center so they could track them.

Joanie Bily: And all of a sudden, right. We should've figured out how to do that fast and we're driving productivity and they don't really care. Where are they live? So, there's a lot of good things, so that they've actually come out of it. I'm sure for Eric, he would agree with that certainly with the results they're seeing at Upwork.

Joanie Bily: But I think more of that is certainly coming and we're going to expect to continue to see those trends. 

David Francis: I certainly agree a hundred percent. There's a saying that goes around where it was like the you know, the COVID was the great driver of digital transformations for organizations around the world.

David Francis: Certainly that's true. One, one question I have. So, you know, when it comes to you, the, that kind of marketplace model and you kind alluded to it, Eric, where it's you you know, mostly technology, but you got a human where you need it, you know, right now it seems to be one of, kind of the sticking areas for staffing companies is around kind of what's the role of a recruiter like.

David Francis: You know, how do we set up a system such that, you know, it can be mostly self-service and maybe have some human reaction where required, you know, I, I don't know if you can share any specific metrics Eric, but I suspect the vast majority that 3 billion is like entirely self-service without kind of any human interaction.

David Francis: And so, you know, I guess, how does the role of a recruiter change in the future? 

Eric Gilpin: I think it's a complex question, but I think it's rooted in some of the things that Chris shared earlier around everyone trying to stick like five things in a job description and even a recruiter being one of those.

Eric Gilpin: And so if you think about the talent supply chain and what it takes to, you know, source and deliver you know, high quality talent for your customers, there's probably like. 15 different little projects that can be broken up and either automated through technology or maybe done in a different way.

Eric Gilpin: And so I think the idea around, you know, culture and relationship and fits technology is not there yet today. And I think recruiters play an important role on kind of the qualitative kind of conversation between those matches. But I think. On the actual curation vetting even attraction like technology is accelerating that in a number of different ways, we see that not only at Upwork where, you know, we have a very much closed loop system where machine learning and predictive analytics are driving.

Eric Gilpin: A lot of those matches for our customers today. And I know many staffing firms are employing very similar technology, you know, within their kind of matching systems. But, I mean, you see the rise of chatbots and you see the kind of rise of artificial intelligence. And I don't know how far it goes, but today they are playing a very important role, especially in that last mile work where technology hasn't necessarily been able to automate.

Eric Gilpin: But I would assume that, you know, this whole idea of like future versus business model, the future always wins that the technology is only gonna continue to get better. And the good news is that we can repurpose recruiters into maybe some other higher order, higher impact roles. You know, technology increases.

Eric Gilpin: And we've seen that multiple times as things get automated, it just creates even new skills and jobs of the future. And so, I think as Thomas shared before, like we should embrace it and be excited about it. Because I think it just creates new opportunities, both for our customers in our industry overall. 

Thomas Jajeh: I always thinking from a recruiter perspective, know, it's getting better, right? If we think that at one time, Moment in time, we'll have total transparency overall, all talent in the world, because there's a, you know, let's say all the talents it's in the blockchain.

Thomas Jajeh: Everybody had democratized relation of data and everybody has access to the same source. Then algorithms can do search and match and can even have the first content, but, you know, scarcity, the scarcity that we have today and particularly in the professional industry, we see that it's, you know, the market has changed.

Thomas Jajeh: We're selling talents on a job. Right. We have to convince people. People have to have a good feeling. It's about emotions. It's about telling the company it's about relationships. It's about trust, right? And trust computers on a good with trust. And I don't know if they will ever be good with transactions.

Thomas Jajeh: They're good with math, but then not good with trust.

David Francis: And so I there's some systemic trust that happens, like, you know, you trust, you're not gonna get murdered when you get into Uber, but they're not going to relationship building. 

Thomas Jajeh: Yes. But so I would say I would echo what Eric says. I think the recruiters would even enjoy this journey because some of the monities repetitive tasks would go away and they have more time for the highest good jobs they can go to learn and enjoy it.

Chris Hartman: Yeah. And I think that the constant to me is the moment we stop adding value to a client or candidate, and then we should be replaced by that technology. So continually evolving what that is. And as Thomas and Eric were talking about, you know, the stats still haven't changed that the three most difficult times of somebody's life or death, divorce and changing jobs.

Chris Hartman: Right. So if the Uber drivers are good examples of that, you know, cause I keep hearing the Uberization of staffing. Right. Maybe you can have that a little bit, but if you told me that I swipe right on my Uber driver to kind of pick me up and now I'm the only Uber driver I can have for the next 12 months on an assignment like that.

Chris Hartman: That's the one I'm thinking I need a little bit more than four stars and, you know, you know, he's got 7,000 trips. I want to, you know, know a little bit more about his car, you know, kind of smell when I get in there. Like whatever it is, you know, you just, the longer term that emotional commitment from transactional emotions.

Chris Hartman: Right. We just kind of fill, spend a lot more time. And I think that really good recruiters are going to continue to make that evolution because they don't want to make 50 calls to try to talk to one person who might return their call. They'd rather talk to the 10 who do want to do something and spend all their time trying to get them to the best possible spot.

Chris Hartman: So I think that's the way we're going to have to kind of continue to be thinking. And I love using technology to eliminate that, you know, repetitive, you know, on productive time spent trying to get to the right person to have the conversation with, 

David Francis: I love the lens, looking at the the length, know, the the level of kind of validation or kind of human interaction you'd want to do is probably correlated, you know, then your lead to that, to the length of time, you're going to be committed to that particular Simon or engagement itself.

David Francis: Yeah. If you've got a new variety, it's terrible. It's not a huge deal, but 12 months, 12 months. And that's the only one. And it's that I like that like the illustration due to that end you know, which like what kind of functions, you know, looking at kind of, stuff that can be done by technology and stuff that can't be, you know, what are areas that you think are going to get automated away and, or relegated to you?

David Francis: You know, some quote unquote smart system or AI enabled system and, you know, what are things that are going to kind of be into. As time moves on.

Chris Hartman: So I think if we look further in the future and sorry, I keep jumping in and talking a bit that my personality is not good with silence, so I apologize. 

David Francis: That's why I meant to force you uncomfortably into talking. 

Chris Hartman: Yeah. So your thing of 10 years, where would I like some of this to be 10 years from now?

Chris Hartman: For me? Instead of, you know, writing stagnant job descriptions or stagnant resumes, right. It would be great if the system and the technology could say, Hey, look, we know this is what this person is doing. And they're replacing her with a new spot, and we know that these types of people have been successful in the past.

Chris Hartman: So go find new people that kind of have these skills. And it's not a job description per se, as much as it's a certain level of skills or it's a certain type of culture. And be able to say, Hey, look, we think this works together and pull in all of the right DE&I stuff and all the rest of us. So we're not just repeating the same person getting the same job or the same type of person got the same job every time.

Chris Hartman: Like that's where I think technology can look underlying all the other stuff than transactional. What has worked in the past and how do we use those learnings from the past to go, oh, here's what it is. And if you think of like a great recruiter, working with a company for a long period of time, it might start out a little bit Rocky, but by the time it finishes up, if you've worked with them for a number of years, you're going, Hey, look, I just need somebody to do this job.

Chris Hartman: You tell me when you got the right person, let's just put them to work. Right. And that's because that trust factor and the other thing has been there. It's how we get technology to not require someone to be in the job for 20 years, to be able to have those conversations, to do that matching because we all did it for 20 years.

Eric Gilpin: I mean, that's a lot of the work that we're like, I think a lot of the platforms are trying to do, you know, how do we create these kinds of virtual talent benches that you can kind of move in and out of. And like, how do we take, not just the skills, taxonomy or that ontology but bringing in other things to try to predict that kind of future success.

Eric Gilpin: And so, you know, we do a lot of different recommendation works on what we call kind of like a job success score. And so looking at rehire rates, looking at, you know, feedback from the hiring managers. I'm looking at their ability to increase their rates with customers over time, which are quality signal all the different availability signals of how many, you know, if it's an independent contractor, how many clients do we have at one time and trying to like aggregate a number of different data sources, both on our platform, as well as, you know, user generated content from the professional, from, you know, external resources like LinkedIn or credentialing websites to try to be able to automate as much as possible to your point, Chris, so that the recruiter, when they get involved.

Eric Gilpin: It's a high-impact high outcome kind of conversation for both sides. And I think that the like that's coming as well as like a lot of, I don't know, I feel like I've had to read up on not only crypto, but this new web three thing, as well as the metaverse and like the amount of like implications.

Eric Gilpin: I think this is going to have for the way of how we work more importantly than necessarily how we find work is the rate of change is. It's fascinating, but kind of scary of what the next 10 years could look like. And I think that the firms that lean into that, the organizations that lean into that, might find themselves with some unfair, competitive advantage, more so than some laggards that might be trying to avoid it. So, 

Joanie Bily: yeah and you know, not to date myself, but I've been in this industry for 25 years. It's pretty much all I've ever done right out of college. When I think about the role of the recruiter and how much that role has changed, you know, over that period of time and what we're looking for them to do and what they're doing even today.

Joanie Bily: I think the advancements that we're seeing, they're only going to continue. So. Yes, it's easier. Of course, as we all know over the last few years, you know, for them to maybe make that match or through technology that they're accessing the talent, they can cast a wider net, they can, you know, match to the requirements.

Joanie Bily: But of course, we're also seeing, you know, that technology is helping with, you know, credentialing and compliance and so that role of the recruiter, right. Only going to continue to evolve. It's that human touch is absolutely still needed. I think Thomas said it before in today's market. You know, we can find the right person for the job, but we still might need that recruiter to coach them or to convince them to make the move.

Joanie Bily: And to also get the company on the other side, maybe to offer more in, in benefits or make something more enticing. So. The role is becoming more sophisticated. And I remember years ago we were talking about, okay, with technology, are we going, are we even going to need the role of the recruiter?

Joanie Bily: And absolutely we need the role of the recruiter, but it's, in my opinion, becoming much more consultative. And also there's much more of a sales component to it. In today's environment where. We're really dealing with the scarcity of talent. 

David Francis: That's a great point. And all technically wise, I'll just make the comment, you know, I think it might be you know, the kind of future vision you were talking about Chris, where, you know, we've moved away from trying to put a job description together.

David Francis: Understand folks is you know, collection of their skills and you know, kind of behavioral characteristics. I think the tooling is mostly there right now. If you with some of the providers that are out there the ability to kind of create that world exists right now. But I've only kind of come to the market recently.

David Francis: And I think there's a question about how willing are companies going to be to embrace that model? Right. You know, it might be an opportunity for you all to bring that to clients kind of a different way of thinking about how you acquire talent, as opposed to need, to put a job description together and, you know, try to match things up.

Thomas Jajeh: That's right, David, that's maybe worth mentioning briefly. And I agree with you and the technologies mainly there. I think also the. The white and the tenant's behavior has changed dramatically. We've talked about how to want to work. But our governments globally don't work in the same speed as the technology and the behavior of the people at work.

Thomas Jajeh: So some of these technologies, while they are brilliant, will still be significant. In some of the regions, at least in the mayor, you know, we had this new AI act. It is very difficult to foresee what will be possible, you know, in terms of predictions and auto matching. Right now with the legislation says, will we have, you know, GDPR questionable?

Thomas Jajeh: What happens if things go more into a blockchain and we have distributed personal data across the globe, you know, European data sitting anywhere in distributed notes, what does it mean to data privacy? I think we have to, we as an industry, we have to do a better job in lobbying and really working with the governments on moving them at the same pace that we could go as an industry.

David Francis: And it's certainly a fair point. I think there's a you know, Legislation and regulations certainly don't move at the same speed that changes in client or candidate preferences or innovation in technology does. So, it's a fair point. So, we've got about five minutes left. I want to end with kind of a final question, a, you know, maybe a call to action to your peers.

David Francis: You know, looking out at the future, you know, what do you think is going to be the biggest. Kind of a change. And you know, how would you encourage the folks that are listening to you to prepare for it?

Joanie Bily: Okay.

Joanie Bily: So I, you know, I just. When I think about the future, I can't help, but think about what we've all been through for the last two years and how much I've changed and never did. I think I'd be sitting here today. You know, virtual offices all across the country. You know, as I mentioned been, you know, growing up in this industry, I was used to that traditional office, right, where we were still meeting candidates, you know, whether it's light industrial, professional staffing.

Joanie Bily: And that world has completely changed. And I think we need to only embrace that even more and be open-minded right with the different workforce models. You know, the way that work is getting done certainly has changed where the work is getting done has certainly changed how it's getting done. And it's really just accelerated opportunities to be able to service.

Joanie Bily: Customers and to work with talent, you know, across, you know, there, there really are no borders. So, For me, I look at this and I just think what an incredible opportunity to be in an incredible time also to be in this space, you know, where we're still connecting companies to great people and great people to organizations and helping them find jobs and opportunities, but to keep an open mind and to leverage technology, to only continue to accelerate.

Joanie Bily: That growth. Because we do have a challenge certainly with not having enough people to get the work done. And I do think that's one thing that our industry can really play a major role in is that we can help promote all of these opportunities, whether it's project based, whether it's direct hire, whether it's, you know, a contingent staffing opportunity we have access to all of these incredible opportunities, but we don't have enough people. And there really still is that skills, you know, mix-match so, a lot of opportunities out there, I would just encourage my colleagues to really just, you know, keep an open mind and keep embracing that change.

David Francis: I agree with you 100%, Joanie, I think there's a particular theme around the, that it was a topic I wanted to bring up. We didn't get to for the sake of time, you know, that's you know, fixing that skills gap is unfortunately something right now that falls pretty much on, on the candidate.

David Francis: And, you know, I think there is a huge opportunity for staffing companies to come in. Is it kind of plugged that cap and capture the value from it. Chris, you were holding your breath, so now you can breathe it out. Tell us 

Chris Hartman: I was just holding my breath, cause I didn't want to be the first one to jump in the other stuff.

Chris Hartman: So, but I would, I think Joni just summed it up. Well, the only thing I would add to that embracing the change in the tech is. Embrace the AND, right? Like I think too often these conversations getting into the, or are we going to do a platform where we can do traditional, we're going to be hybrid?

Chris Hartman: Are we going to be, are we going to be remote or are we going to be virtual or are we going to be onsite all the time? Right. The hybrid and things in the middle ended up being the way most things evolve. So if you're embracing the, and so when I get in conversations and people are like, oh, you're trying to replace all the tech or a touch with technology.

Chris Hartman: Now I'm trying to get tech and touch. Now you're trying to kind of just say, we need touch and you won't invest in technology now I'd like to have both. So it's the AND, and but I think we get people in our companies that want to live in one of their or versions. Cause that's what they know.

Chris Hartman: That's what they love. That's what they're passionate about. And I spend most of my time just talking to people about, we can do this. The AND is more powerful than the, or when we're trying to kind of get through. 

Thomas Jajeh: And maybe to add to this. And I think it fits into what I've seen too often, in my opinion, in companies and what I would love to not see as often is that you know, we, how many David, you know, better than me, but there are thousands of HR, tech, startups, you know, they try to revolutionize the world of work.

Thomas Jajeh: All these people have say people or these people go to those large corporations and said their vision. And often, unfortunately there's a solution being. Without actually understanding the problem, technologies are not the solution. If you don't understand what problem you're solving, how does it fit into my long-term strategy?

Thomas Jajeh: So I think first you have to think about what is the problem? What do I want to achieve in the next years? How does the process look like that? I envision, and then you can look at technology and not the other way around. We often go technology centric into these conversations. Somebody, you know, Great sales pitch on HR tech with one of the vendors, and then I'm going to implement it.

Thomas Jajeh: What problem is this solving for you? I don't know. And I think we can get better as an industry in making the right decisions at the right time, because we all know that technology can augment and enhance the recruitment processes. 

David Francis: What ends up happening is those clients that do that. Then they become Talent Tech Labs lab members six months after they realized, you know, 

Chris Hartman: I have their ecosystem report right here, because someone's always calling me about, Hey, tell me about that. So, yeah. 

David Francis: Brilliant. I agree. A 100% on this. Thomas excellent point, Eric. You can take some. 

Eric Gilpin: Mean, I think all three of those were amazing. Like I yes, fall in love with your customer problems, not your solutions.

Eric Gilpin: And really try to be customer oriented and centric both on the talent and on the customers. But you've got to look at it, both sides. I think Chris is right, and there's pretty much going on. And I feel like that's where organizations miss. And I love Joanie what you said around.

Eric Gilpin: It's a really exciting time to be in the people business. And you know, we get help. You know, individuals grow their careers. We help to help businesses, you know, obviously grow their opportunities and the rate of change will only increase. I mean, it took forever for Apple to get a trillion dollars and they got the 2 trillion, like right behind that.

Eric Gilpin: And so, like, I think that well, depending on the market in the day, which is unfortunately kind of hard to pay attention to right now, but I think the future is very bright. And I think there's a ton of opportunity. For all of the people in this space and have that like abundance versus scarcity mindset and be open to change and embrace the and focus on those customer problems.

Eric Gilpin: So well said. 

David Francis: Excellent. Well, I want to thank each of you for taking some time to talk with me and to share your insights. Joanie, Eric, Chris Thomas appreciate this. We'll get the band back together in 10 years and we'll find out, you know, where we're at and who is right. Thank you everybody else. Enjoy the rest of the conference. 

David Francis: Thanks, 


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Thomas Jajeh

David Francis

Joanie Bily

Eric Gilpin

Chris Hartman




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