Adecco USA President Joyce Russell On Contingency

Olympic medalist Rulon Gardner chats with Joyce Russell, President of Adecco USA

Mid-afternoon is always a tough time for conference attendees weary from long sessions and poor eating. But Joyce Russell, EVP and President of Adecco Staffing, led a lively discussion on utilizing a flexible workforce through contingent and temporary positions.

Through facts, personal anecdotes and trivia questions, Russell laid the groundwork for why flexible employment can strengthen a workplace in today’s climate. She spoke of how the current workforce is changing and new economic realities that include workers having to do more with less.

That led to a look at the four generations that currently exist in today’s workforce: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials. Russell pointed out that these individuals want the same four things in their jobs: they want to have a purpose, make a contribution, be valued and be appreciated. “If you build your whole culture around those four principles,” said Joyce.  “I promise you, you will encompass all of those individuals.”

So what is the “new normal” in today’s working world? Russell says that companies are bringing in more flexible hires. And virtual employment is reality. She adds that companies that aren’t thinking about virtual employment are going to lose the battle in the end because the Millenials, as well as Traditionalists, are demanding virtual options.

But not all businesses are comfortable with allowing workers to work virtually. Russell suggested that corporate cultures need to change to allow for these situations. She then asked the audience for examples of how they became virtual employers.

Russell shared a tip for accepting this new normal. “Many, many years ago, someone told me to eat change for breakfast,” she quipped. “I’m still eating change for breakfast.”

She had another tip as well – unlearning the old because ultimately, you need to dare to be different. “At Adecco, we’re constantly thinking about solutions that dare to be different,” said Russell.

Going forward, there are certain “soft” skills you should look for when hiring amid this new normal, suggested Russell. If you are looking for salespeople, for example, you should find those who are very good relationship builders, and you should also have an assessment tool to ensure they can develop relationships. These salespeople should also be able to translate the company’s value proposition effectively.

You should also want all of your employees to be entrepreneurial and innovative.  Additionally, they should confident, optimistic, creative and determined – in short people of action. “Write this down – ‘I do not like talkers, I like doers,’” Russell told the crowd.

She then focused on how businesses can use more contingent labor and provided a road map for getting started:

  • Start with a clear business strategy
  • Assess what talent is needed to achieve success
  • Evaluate your current talent pool and determine the gap
  • Look to see how contingent labor can be a solution

Companies need to see contingent labor as a risk-management strategy as well, Russell said, adding that talent is without a doubt the most important differentiator for all businesses. And many business costs are tied to human capital. “You can’t afford right now to have the wrong talent in the right places,” said Russell. “So you’ve got to really think about having a portion of your workforce as contingent, as it protects your company. It’s critical to your success.”

She referenced a recent McKinsey & Co. report stating that 57.8% of companies claim they need more temporary or contract workers. Russell then showed a clip from the hit NBC show, “The Office” in which Steve Carrell’s character is lamenting the impending loss of a temporary worker.

Russell concluded her discussion by urging the audience to leave a legacy at their companies. And one way to do that is by creating opportunities to use more flexible labor. “I think you must be the leader and dare to be different with this solution in your company,” she added.


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