Outsourcing Your Brand: Why The New Economy Makes Your Brand More Important Than Ever


Don’t look now, but there’s a sourcing evolution afoot. And it’s being brought about by the change in the nature of employment itself.

Today’s workforce is comprised of more freelance and contract labor than any time in our recent history.  Bloomberg calls it the “contract” or “gig” economy; Deloitte, “the open talent economy.” But no matter what you call it, it means a tremendous change in how we define “workforce.”

Hiring employees off the balance sheet has become increasing popular as employers drive to lower costs or increase their business reach or capabilities. In fact, it’s not unusual for a single workforce to include “partnership talent” (employees who are parts of joint ventures), “borrowed talent” (employees who are part of contractors or outsourcing relationships), “freelance talent” (independent, individual contractors), or even “open source talent” (people who don’t work for you at all, but are part of your value chain and services) as well as traditional, full-time staff.

Just how big a trend is this? The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the number of these contingent employees at 32% of the total workforce, and growing. Katz and Krueger’s recent studyshow that the share of workers in alternative work arrangements climbed from 10.1% in 2005 to 15.8% in 2015. The study would suggest that the number of workers employed in alternative arrangements increased by 9.4 million (66.5%) from 14.2 million in February 2005 to 23.6 million in November 2015.

And whether or not your company uses contingent labor, its rise will have a profound effect on your talent attraction and recruitment efforts.

How “the gig” will change the game for good

Millennials make up 44 percent of the contingent workforce. In fact, the idea of this generation aligning to a concept of “lifelong employment” is no longer a concept embraced and will certainly never be understood by those born afterwards. Staffing professionals must recognize that, unlike the Boomers and Gen Xers before them, this generation has a different perspective about work and their careers.

Millennials expect and desire different perks: varied tasks, high-tech tools, new benefits, and most importantly, greater flexibility. As more than one-in-three workers today are Millennials (now surpassing Generation X in the workforce), their work preferences will be increasingly prevalent, and they will undoubtedly look towards the advantages contingent labor offers to meet those preferences.

Because today’s talent has so many options, marketing your company, your culture, your mission…and especially the dynamics of the role…is going to be critical to your success.

Your brand and candidate expectations

Is RPO right for my business?To compete in this new consumer driven recruitment environment means HR must take on a sales and marketing mindset. HR needs to consider that attracting and engaging this new age of talent in a totally different way, and work harder to create and promote a culture of flexibility, empowerment, development, and mobility.  Many organizations understand the need to continue to build and strengthen the employer brand.

For years, we’ve understood the importance of a building a strong employer brand. However, for many companies, it’s not until recently that it has gotten the attention it truly deserves. According to Universum’s study, “2020 Outlook, the Future of Employer Branding,” over 70% of the CEOs polled agreed that, in order to reach the skilled labor their company required, now meant applying the same focus and consistency to their employer branding as their corporate brand. No longer is building a brand about a marketing or communications initiative, employer branding should be considered a “must have” in every talent acquisition strategy.

The study was also quick to point out that, given the social transparency that comes with being a more “technologically connected” society, companies can no longer afford to rely on recruitment advertising alone to build a positive employer brand image. Employee advocacy will be far more important. And the companies that will win the talent wars will have a cadre of people and touchpoints that can speak to the vitality of your culture and the dynamics of your opportunities.

Marketing: Your RPO’s Most Important Role

The very concept of blending internal and external talent will drive Human Resource departments to look at services that combine the best recruiting practices with a real talent for sales and marketing. They’ll look to companies that bring sophisticated approaches to sourcing inclusive of technology tools that was once reserved for marketing firms.  This will include the need to have resources who bring strategies to enhance the employment brand and keep opportunities top-of-mind with your target audience long-term.

This means HR will need to shift their buying process for an RPO provider beyond a transaction engagement to one that’s more of a strategic marketing partnership. This evolving offering from an RPO provider will be the “boots on the ground” that will help engage and sell your innovative career opportunities to the workforce of tomorrow.

Written by Patty Silbert

President of Newton Talent since 2018, Patty Silbert has over 30 years of experience developing the innovative solutions that help HR professionals just like you meet their most pressing recruitment challenges and their companies achieve their talent acquisition goals. She is a regular writer and speaker on the subjects of recruitment strategy, employment branding, HR technology, and leadership.