What Everyone Needs to Know About Independent Workers
By Monica Lucero, VP Strategic Account Development at MBO Partners

Gig economy, work intermediation platforms, freelancer management systems, joint enforcement task force, IC misclassification risk, MOUs — all of these are making headlines in today’s business news as the landscape of the independent contractor workforce continues to evolve and grow stronger with both opportunity as well as increased risk.  At CTHRA’s Future Forward HR Symposium, a panel of experts will delve into the topic during a session titled “Maximizing an Independent Workforce.”

During the symposium, we will discuss the opportunities and dynamics that face this area of talent management strategy for cable and telecom companies.  We will kick off the session by taking a closer look at what is happening within the independent contractor landscape by revealing the results of this year’s State of Independence report that is generated by MBO Partners and Emergent Research.  The survey helps map the current demographics, values, motivators, innovations and the overall state of independence in the U.S.  Some of the highlights unveil the following:

  • Independents are growing at a rate of 12% faster than overall U.S. jobs creation rate of 7%.
  • There are currently 17.8 million independents, and that number is projected to increase to 20 million by 2019.
  • Conversion and retention are much in play right now: 1 in 7 nonindependent workers are thinking of converting, and 4 in 5 independents are planning to remain independent.
  • As far as financial security, they feel that there is plenty of it: 4 in 10 independents report that they feel very secure with the multiple clients and outlets from which they are able to retain work at this point.

The panelists will also take a brief look at the headlines surrounding the recent cases around misclassifications, what is really changing in the regulatory landscape and why companies are coming under fire to unveil what is really driving the local, state and federal governments to increase their scope around usage of independents? 

The session will then take a turn to focus on how two companies, Scripps Networks Interactive and Time Warner Cable, have created their own programs internally and what opportunities and strategies they are exploring in the management of their independent contractor workforces.  We will focus on how companies can create programs that enable their usage of independents but also balance the needs of their managers to meet business requirements while meeting regulatory ones as well. 

Cassie Brown, VP of Diversity, Employee Relations & Recruiting Operations, has been leading Scripps Networks Interactive strategy around its contingent workforce, and in preparing for our session, she mentioned, “It has been a huge spend for companies without an ability to really track all the dollars, and it can create unnecessary risk when not managed well.”

Heather Snavely, VP of Talent Acquisition Vendor Management in the Talent Acquisition and Movement division at Time Warner Cable, also shared insights regarding the company’s overall strategy and really hit a strong point when she shared, “The engagement model has to be different for ICs.  They are simply different from the rest of the contingents, and the experience has to be seamless or else they won’t want to work for your company.”

In addition, we will discuss how you should assess and define which groups are independents within your organization as well as how you can incentivize your managers to support meaningful processes behind engaging ICs in a compliant manner.  We will also look at ways that companies will be competing to become “client of choice” as this part of the temporary resource stream continues to grow.  The competition could become fierce for the attention of these specialized free-agents. 

So what kind of work are the best paid free agents doing? “It is mostly technology,” says Gene Zaino, President and CEO of MBO Partners. “It is also project management. When you think about it, when companies are changing the way they do things and their business models and building new products, you need a project manager to manage it.”  

With technology at the core of new business models and new products that cable and telecommunications companies are developing and evolving, then, knowing how to engage, attract and retain these types of labor resources will be essential.  Knowing how to engage them in programs that work to meet the needs of many stakeholders and are compliant will also be an integral part of any company’s future forward talent management strategy.

To learn more about the topic of the independent workforce, register now for CTHRA’s Future Forward HR Symposium. The featured panelists for the “Maximizing an Independent Workforce” session are pictured below.

HR Pulse is a bi-monthly resource published exclusively for the members of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association.

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