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Contract staffing in India: Changing Perception and increasing acceptability

Immense competition and changing dynamics of businesses have forced all organizations to make radical shifts in their overall
business structure and strategies to remain competitive in coming times. When we talk about the most important asset of an
organization, The Humans, we see that almost all organizations are going through a transition phase as far as their workforce is
concerned. As we move towards the workforce of 2020, organizations are becoming more quality focused as opposed to quantity. With
technology becoming omnipresent in an open-source internet era, organizations do understand that it‟s the quality of their work
force which will help them in gaining lead over competition and making their business sustainable.
This increasing competition and changing dynamics bring a set of new risks which organizations have to face while moving forward.
Among all risks, which organizations face, two main risks are related to Finance and Human Resource (HR). Organizations generally,
in their attempt to reduce all possible cost, try to cut on budget of Hiring and Recruitment. These cuts on recruitment budget affect a
whole series of programs such as cost of meeting statutory obligations for new employees, Initial on-job trainings and many others. To
overcome these challenges; organizations prefer on-boarding candidates for whom they don‟t need to take care of all these aspects.
This is where contract staffing comes into picture as this third party (staffing firm) takes care of all these aspects.
Contract staffing, also known as „Temporary Staffing‟, „Temp Staffing‟, „Flexi-Staffing‟, „Staff Augmentation Service‟ (name changes but
the core essence remains the same) is a very famous staffing service in western countries. MNCs and SMEs use contract staffing to
manage the number of employees, overhead costs and other related things. But when we talk of Contract staffing in Indian Context, till
4-5 years ago, Only MNCs were using this model/service and as far as candidate community is concerned, because of their mindset of
putting job security ahead of opportunity, not many supporters of this job-type were there. In last 4-5 years, the picture has changed
dramatically. On employer‟s front, not just MNCs, but SMEs and Start-ups have also started using this recruitment model. Contract
staffing provides organizations a “Try before you buy” option. In addition, organizations get on demand ready to deploy resources
which save their cost and they are not bound to continue with a resource after completion of a particular assignment. The other side of
coin, Talent community; they have also started showing interest in exploring such opportunities. For them exploring opportunities
have become the priority as they prefer gaining experience and building over that. Contract staffing offers many advantages to
candidate community like Flexibility & Freedom, increased earning Potential, and Well- enhanced resume.
As far as statistics are concerned, as we mentioned in one of our earlier blogs on contract staffing “IT Contract staffing in India:
What is there in future ?” total size of Indian contract staffing/ flexi-staffing industry is INR 19900 Crore and 36% of this belongs
to IT contract staffing. As per the data published by Indian Staffing Federation (ISF), Indian industries employ around 1.7 million
employees under flexi-staffing. This speaks volume about the growth and acceptance of flexi-staffing in India. When we talk of Indian
IT, this figure has grown phenomenally over past few years. According to a report by research firm Indicus Analytics (published in
2012-13), around 10 % of total IT population is employed on contract basis, whereas for western countries, this figure is 20% of total
workforce.

The speed with which contract staffing is gaining acceptance among employers and employees; it is expected to reach to the level of
western countries by 2025.

This shows that the social embarrassment associated with temporary employment is clearly fading. This trend is certain to grow
because of the fact that companies have started giving more importance and recognition to temp- employees.
With convergence of multiple objectives of different stakeholders, Flexi-staffing will help India gain ability to harness its manpower
optimally and this could become a win-win situation for all parties involved.

The 2014 Talent Acquisition Services Blueprint: Which providers are delivering in today‟s
Digitally-challenged marketplace?
The world of work has become a very, very different place in just a few short years. Today‟s workers need to adapt, develop and promote their
skills to make themselves attractive in today‟s Digital economy – and savvy employers need to try harder than ever to ensure they are finding staff who can
do more than simply transact – they increasingly want people who can think, create, analyze, collaborate and sell; people who are embracing today‟s
technology to create value to their organization. Ambitious employers want talented workers which can align themselves with where they want their
businesses to go, not with the legacy environment from where they are trying to evolve.
So what better strategy to adopt than hire a service provider to take care of this talent headache for you? Surely it‟s time to explain to your HR department
that fishing through resumes on LinkedIn is unlikely going to net you the best people? Surely it‟s time to partner with a recruiting expert that can quickly
understand your business, the talent you need, and how to go out into today‟s people marketplace to find it?
So we tasked our global workforce and talent expert, Christa Degnan Manning, to assess those services providers helping organizations fill their open
positions. The Talent Acquisition Services Blueprint is the second in a series of HfS Workforce Support Services Blueprints reexamining and redefining how
organizations are creating operating models and solution portfolios to support today‟s workforces. And here is how the providers today shake out, after
Christa had put them through the HfS Blueprint mincer:

So Christa, what exactly are Talent Acquisition Service providers and how do they fit in with the overall research you are doing?
A key principle of my Workforce Support Services research approach is that the traditional HR “hire to retire” process-driven solution approach is
completely obsolete in the modern workplace. We can see from the Power to the People research few people are actually planning to stay with their current
firm until retirement, and they are struggling to focus on the right work to stay engaged and be productive.
So companies have to think differently about how they identify the right workers, support them in their collaboration and development on a day to day basis,
and recognize and reward them in more meaningful ways. The first Blueprint we did was on Rewards, Remuneration and Recognition services, earlier in
2014 which took a new look at global payroll, benefits, and employee contact center providers and how they are moving away from simply processing
paychecks to really help keep workers focused on work and appreciative of the support they get from the business.
Then given what HfS saw in terms of both the disengagement in the workplace and this massive workforce exodus upon us, I targeted Talent Acquisition
Services next. HfS defines Talent Acquisition Service providers as those third-party firms that support companies in the strategy, sourcing, and engagement
programs and processes required to attract and activate workers as businesses desire today.
Talent Acquisition Service delivery is evolving from the traditional recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and contingent or contract work managed service
providers (MSP) worlds as companies seek access to more flexible labor pools and talent sourcing and management support models as well.
We know that work is getting done today across an extended enterprise of traditional workers, contract laborers, and third-party service partners, so our new
Blueprint explicitly assessed if third-party service firms could support clients across types of labor: staff (traditional full- or part-time employees) and
contract (contingent labor).
And to achieve business outcomes of quality of hire, faster time to productivity, or better engagement and retention, these services providers are having to go
deeper into traditional talent management areas like workforce strategy and planning, helping clients answer: what is the employer value proposition to
potential workers? What makes them productive or retained over time?
This gets into more qualitative issues than simply sourcing and placing workers, so we also looked at capabilities amongst the service providers in terms of
how they could support talent strategy and engagement as well.
And what are the important service provider capabilities companies are looking for today?
First, it‟s talent. Recruiters who know how to find passive candidates, assessment experts that understand people and organizational psychology, creative
communicators who can help identify and amplify a company‟s unique employer brand and value proposition, and analytical and proactive account staff that
can look across a client‟s business as well as network and share with their peers to identify opportunities or challenges and offer suggestions for solutions.
Given the dynamics of hard to find skills and the geographic differences in labor markets, companies are looking for specific talent acquisition focus and
sophisticated expertise, including in new technologies.
Second it‟s the availability of the technology solutions themselves, particularly social media sourcing and passive talent community development, because
firms are no longer simply filling reqs, but supporting the complexities of matching the right people to the right roles at the right time, which is much less of
a transaction and more of an on-going supply chain and relationship development set of issues.
Of note, this has meant some early multi-HRO players with administrative transactional models are opting out or just catching up in the Talent Acquisition
Services marketplace, while others have successfully doubled down and are being recognized for developing talent strategies and changing outcomes, not
just doing support tasks.
Yet new entrants are also emerging specifically to deliver technology-enabled talent acquisition services that support overall talent management objectives
like engagement or retention. They don‟t even use the term “outsourcing” to describe themselves really, it‟s just good service delivery.
So which providers are leading this emerging new Talent Acquisition Services market space?
Companies in the Winners‟ Circle were those that have aggressively targeted providing progressive service delivery as we define it and incorporating the use
of new sourcing methods and technologies, specifically:
• Accenture – seen as a strategic client advisor with technology, global footprint, and C-level trust
• Cielo (formerly Pinstripe Ochre House) – a growing global player rising to the top of the talent services “sky”
• KellyOCG – leading the industry in adapting acquisition to supply dynamics and methods
• TheRightThing! – an early leader in progressive outsourcing being absorbed by ADP
• Seven Step – savvy strategy and seamless services stalwart poised for greater success
• Neeyamo – a complete human resources outsourcer featuring flexibility and focus
• WilsonHCG – a tech-enabled talent acquisition specialist going global
High Performers were AonHewitt, IBM, Peoplescout, and WNS who are clearly going after talent acquisition clients, but have room to develop either in
terms of broader strategy and engagement capabilities recognized and used by clients, or across traditional staff and contract labor support, or both.
Of note, we also include 8 short profiles of companies in the traditional recruiting or staffing agency space that appear to be targeting this market, but shy
away from official analyst RFIs. These service providers will have to embrace new scrutiny though as they ultimately compete against the breadth of
technology-enabled business service providers investing in the talent space.
And what are some of the key take-aways of the study, Christa?
In light of all of the changes and challenges in the modern workforce and workplace, I see talent acquisition today as the tip of the spear to broader
workforce transformation. To deliver value beyond cost take out, Talent Acquisition Service providers are now being tasked with partnering with clients to
acknowledge – and in many cases address – fundamental workplace and workforce issues beyond simply posting requisitions and screening workers. They
are having to deal with the issues that impact quality of hire and company performance through approaches such as culture match and soft skills
assessments which completely changes the way a company sees and values talent in many cases.
From competitive pay data benchmarks and labor mapping to identifying employee engagement elements and career development initiatives, the bar is
being raised against which the service providers are assessed for their ability to impact the quality of hire. But this also means buyers have to change how
they operate and treat people in order to secure and retain the best workers today.
Many of the enterprises I spoke with acknowledged that they are relying on their services partners to both strategically guide as well as tactically support
them in on-going talent transformation efforts and it‟s going to be a long but ultimately necessary journey – and one they have to take with a third-party to
be able to achieve results because they simply don‟t have the resources or expertise themselves today.
An interesting aspect of the research you did was to document how fat Talent Acquisition Service providers are along the path to
“progressive service delivery”, which we often talk about, can you expand more on this concept?
With the expectations being raised with regard to the business transformation impact from talent acquisition services, more and more buyers say they are
collaboratively partnering with service providers who they see as an extension of their own organizations, in many case completely transparent to their
candidates and employees.
In this way, talent acquisition buyer/service provider partnerships are exhibiting the acknowledgement and commitment to Workforce Support Service
orientations, where they actively work to culturally match the staff on their accounts with the client, find ways to motivate and reward extended teams based
on a joint mission to drive business outcomes, and to provide ways they can connect across their organizations and regions as an extended enterprise.
In delivering their services to the marketplace as third-parties specifically sensitive and focused on people and talent, I‟d say Talent Acquisition Service
providers are leading examples of the characteristics of successful enterprise workforce extension. The service providers in our Winners Circle were
recognized for developing an on-going partnership mentality to focus on outcomes not just the “hire” but in securing a well-matched and engaged worker
with a positive experience in the business.
Also of note, while a number of long-term traditional outsourcing type contracts were analyzed as a part of this research report, more and more companies
are seeking to buy Talent Acquisition Services in shorter contract durations, including project-initiated ways, with an eye to expanding to broader on-going
service delivery as their needs dictate – and scaling down when necessary. This was clearly a flexibility that the Winners Circle service providers embraced.
They are also very open to having discussions with their partners to add additional capabilities and technologies that ultimately involve new business and
pricing models.
With regards to technology, Christa, you’ve called it out as a contentious issue, can you elaborate?
As most early RPO and MSP engagements were tactical and administrative in nature, buyers of services often asked their service providers to use the buyer‟s
internal enterprise applicant tracking systems (ATS) and contract labor vendor management systems (VMS); others were open to suggestions from their
providers or to interact with their proprietary systems if they had to.
Today the market is still split on technologies, some not expecting much beyond what they offer to their service provider staff, others who want new
technologies and innovations brought to them part and parcel of the contract. Notably some of the latter are very vocal about who should pay for access to
technologies – they say if the service provider team can and should be able to benefit from tech across their customer bases, there should not be separate and
equal fees as if they were buying the technologies themselves.
With an accelerating pace of SaaS-based innovation across HR and talent, the use of technology will be a deciding factor in the future success of talent
acquisition broadly. I predict the Talent Acquisition Services space will lead a transformation in the SaaS marketplace itself, where SaaS firms negotiate
wholesale or volume agreements with service providers so they can help implement and consume the technologies, wrapped by their staff and proprietary
service delivery capabilities, and analyze the data that is thrown off and provide advice.
I believe that is the way that enterprises will and should expect to engage with operational capability service providers – not as separate SaaS or outsourcing
in and of themselves – in the future. Don‟t you?
Christa, thanks for taking the time to share your new research… we look forward to more of your continued coverage of the global
workforce in the coming months. HfS readers can click here to view highlights of all our current 15 HfS Blueprint reports.
HfS subscribers click here to access the new report, “Talent Acquisition Service Providers – Partners on the Path to Total Talent
Management”

Keep Customers at the Top of the Plan, Talent Teams Central and develop partnerships with those who share our
interest. On the left our high level goals, the right our high level tactics.
A key component is assuring alignment with the business by taking a business approach. This includes speaking
about total recruiting cost, Cost of Vacancy (COV), and Return on Investment. This will allow ensuring that we will
always operate in a model of continuous improvement and keep within our lean culture.
When it came to staffing since we are building from the ground up, we needed experienced professionals. The core
staff needs to be able to jump right in with little training. Enacting the model meant creating and implementing
Service Level Agreements for both TA and the business in order to make sure we all understood expectations and
shared the accountability and responsibility. This set the tone for open communication which is invaluable.
We are currently working on the model and its development all while making sure we continue to align with the
business and keep cost in mind. Since we are starting with a clean slate, we are using Cost of Vacancy (COV) as
compared to simply Cost of Hire to help us prioritize our recruiting efforts.

 The share of contact/temporary staffing in overall staffing and recruitment market sometimes leads to a
debate that temporary staffing is preferred over permanent because temporary employees outperform the
permanent employee and because of this, in future, permanent staffing is going to see a fall in its demand.
 The shift by Infosys Ltd and others is symptomatic of a maturing industry that wants more revenue from its
own intellectual property instead of providing only labor-intensive, lower-margin information technology and
back-office services.
 Slower growth, fewer people leaving, greater demand by customers for experienced staff, and increased
productivity through automation and software have put pressure on all recruits, according to HCL, which said
it expects to accelerate bringing entry-level staff on board from August.
 India's IT services industry grew in large part because of the availability of cheap skilled labor, an advantage
that is eroding as wages and other costs in India rise.
 In years past, it was cost-effective for IT companies to hire new graduates by the thousands and keep a portion
on the "bench" awaiting deployment on a client project.
 But budget-constrained clients now demand shorter lead times. IT vendors that might have hired people six
months in advance of an expected contract are now working with a one- or two-month window, said Surabhi
Mathur Gandhi, senior vice president at TeamLease, a staffing consultancy.
 At Infosys, while the net quarterly addition of employees fell from 4,906 people in the March quarter last year
to 977 in the December quarter (excluding an acquisition), lateral recruitment held steady at an average of
about 4,300 staff per quarter through December, meaning the percentage of campus hires was much lower.