As an expert in the staffing industry, Tim Pröhm offers a unique perspective on the effects that the shift to remote work and open talent are having on organizational hiring practices, worker protections, and future of work predictions.
Tim is the Vice President of Digital Product Architecture at Kelly, a fully-integrated, leading talent specialty solutions provider that has been defining technological innovation in the staffing industry since 1946. Having climbed the ranks from recruiter to VP during his 20-year tenure in the industry, Pröhm recognized that technology was a disruptor in the space early in his career. In his latest role, Tim and his team are responsible for creating solutions designed to connect talent and customers more efficiently through digital innovation.
The Total Talent Lens
Full-time employees, contingent workers, and independent contractors represent channels that organizations use to get work done. Although remote work has become exponentially more commonplace over the last two and a half years, the impacts of the gig economy’s growth still have many organizations feeling uneasy–and they aren’t quite sure how to put the latter two channels to use most effectively.
One of the primary focuses of KellyOCG, the outsourcing and consulting arm of the larger parent company, is helping optimize the talent channels their customers have access to by breaking down these silos in what they consider a “total talent lens.” This approach provides full visibility of the organizational needs and helps lead to more informed hiring decisions. Pröhm says the team constantly evaluates the solutions they’ll bring to the market based on talent behaviors and customer requirements. “We’re really bridging the gap for our customers to make sure that they have access to the best talent, no matter what employment type they want to operate under,” he adds. “Very often now, non-traditional engagement models like the “human cloud” or gig platforms might be the best channels to get work done.”
The Human Cloud
While many industries felt enormous effects from COVID-19, the pandemic unearthed some unique fragilities in hiring and staffing. As businesses scrambled to reconcile their expectations for employees and retool their talent acquisition plans to accommodate an indefinite timeline for the return to the office, the staffing paradigm shifted rapidly.
“For a lot of traditional organizations, the concept of the gig economy, the concept of online talent marketplaces is still new,” says Tim. “Realistically, it has an overall impact on how organizations staff their teams, how they have people deliver the services, and who they need to drive the organization forward.”
Recognizing that technology and the marketplace environment will dominate in time, Kelly launched the KellyOCG Human Cloud solution. This aggregator instantly connects companies with more than 50 million independent contractors from 1,800 cloud platforms in a single location. “If you have the ability to bring talent and employers together in a very efficient way, through an end-to-end process, and make it very, very seamless,” says Pröhm, “then you have a competitive advantage.”
Pröhm predicts that there will be significant changes in social systems and infrastructures in response to the changing paradigm, and he’s curious about what role the industry can and should play in protecting workers in the future. “So there’s like that extra tax you’ll pay to support the German social security system. Imagine I’m an employer in Germany, and I hire somebody from Bangladesh. For sure, that supports the German economy, but what does that mean for the independent worker in Bangladesh? How is he supported?” he questions. “I think as an industry, we have an obligation to also think about that and to do something for, and advocate for, the independent worker. It’s just necessary.”
A Collaborative Future
Tim believes that the next big transition will involve collaboration across multiple platforms and technologies as the open talent marketplace expands. “What we’ve been hearing from a lot of our customers is, ‘Hey, is there a way that you can orchestrate a team of gig workers to deliver a more sophisticated outcome?'” he shares. “I think they’re getting it right where they really start to think about how to plug all these platforms and talent channels into one operating model to bring the right talent into the organization at the right time. No matter if it’s a full-time employee or if it’s a contractor or a gig worker,” he explains. “I mean, a lot of people talk about the new way of work, and a lot of people talk about how to engage workers differently, but very few execute it extremely aggressively.”
From a learning-world perspective, freelancers are almost like self-contained startup businesses. As tools like AI become more widely accessible, freelancers will be a driving force in leveraging the efficiencies these sorts of technologies are able to offer. Because just as a startup won’t grow if it doesn’t adapt, freelancers lose their relevance and employability if they don’t have the most in-demand skill sets or can’t use the latest technologies.
Just as the world has continued to adapt to all the shades of “new normal” that have been thrown at it over the last two years, so too will organizations find footing in the open talent marketplace and related future of work trends in time—particularly as companies like Kelly further develop resources that are intended to make the process more seamless.