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Our friends at ManpowerGroup Solutions recently posed an intriguing alternative to the ongoing war for talent: collaboration between competitors on shared talent pools. This concept has the potential to lessen, if not solve, critical workforce challenges companies deal with every day, including skilled talent shortages and new expectations younger workers have of employers. This is not a remake of temporary staffing. Rather, it is business collaboration on a grand scale, and it bears a closer look.

Why the Time is Right

Global staffing powerhouse ManpowerGroup Solutions has always been well-positioned to forecast future trends in the world of work. Its’ new white paper, Collaborating with Competitors: Sharing Talent Pools to Meet Workforce Challenges, starts by laying out why the time is right for this new concept:

Four significant trends suggest it may well be time for unprecedented solutions:

  1. Work models are shifting, blurring lines between full-time, part-time, contingent and freelance workers.
  2. Today’s workforce has different expectations.
  3. The talent shortage remains a significant problem.
  4. Employers are in growth mode.

Who would argue that these trends aren’t on target? I think it’s more likely that companies face not just one, but several of these challenges, especially large enterprise organizations.

And, as the paper points out, this concept is already alive in a very simple form. “Most employers already contribute to shared talent pools. However, they may not realize it because they are looking at talent through the lens of a requisition. Every time an employee takes his or her talents from one company to another, the pool has been shared. Every time an employee is recruited by a competitor or enters into a bidding war, employers collaborate (albeit unwittingly) within the same pool.”

What’s needed is for competitors to come together to create a more formal, strategic model that 1) enables companies to easily access the talent they need, and 2) allows talent to go where skills are needed with much less work than changing jobs requires today. Once this collaboration occurs in one industry, the concept could catch on quickly in many more.

Sharing pools of talent among competitors could help minimize talent shortage issues.

4 Reasons It Could Work

In a very digestible infographic-like format, ManpowerGroup presents eight reasons this concept works for employers, and another eight reasons why it works for talent. Here are a few:

For employers:

  • Cost sharing – The new model moves talent acquisition costs outside of one company; competitors share costs and fortify each other’s talent pools.
  • Retain ‘silver medalists’ – A shared talent pool means having access to great people now and in the future. When hiring managers must choose between two top candidates, they will not have to give up the ‘silver medalist’ forever.

For candidates:

  • Search process efficiency – The shared pool streamlines a currently fragmented process, providing talent with a more centralized source for new opportunities.
  • Increased transparency – Candidates want to know where they stand and what the next step is in the process are. The shared talent pool inherently creates a higher level of transparency for candidates.

The key to this concept, of course, is collaboration. TA teams from competing companies working closely together, talented candidates staying in closer contact with a range of employers and with each other as they evaluate new work opportunities. In our own video interviewing space, we already see more collaboration taking place in hiring within companies and between companies and candidates.

A shared talent pool model benefits candidates through increased transparency and search process efficiency.

With the benefits collaboration often delivers to all involved, it’s not so much of a stretch to think sharing talent pools between competitors is a practice that’s on the horizon. After all, innovation happens when people can agree there might be a better way.