Ecolab Applies a Next Practice to Create a Global Contingent Talent Solution
Ecolab is a global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. The company’s 48,000 associates help make the world cleaner, safer and healthier by delivering comprehensive solutions and on-site service to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies for customers at nearly three million locations in more than 170 countries. Around the world, businesses in foodservice, food processing, hospitality, healthcare, industrial, and oil and gas markets choose Ecolab products and services to keep their environments clean and safe, to operate efficiently and to achieve sustainability goals.
Ecolab was selected as an i4cp Next Practice Award for this case study. Hazzen Muñoz accepted the award on stage at the i4cp 2019 Next Practices Now Conference.
One of the toughest challenges Ecolab faces is finding enough talent to support its growth goals. Global talent leaders surveyed in 2016 identified three trends likely to have a profound impact on Ecolab’s workforce:
The labor supply is shrinking due to an aging population and skills gaps created by the increasing pace of technological change in the workplace.
Expectations of workers are shifting as it becomes more common for individuals to pursue greater flexibility and prioritize gaining new experiences at the expensive of longevity with one company. This is leading to increasing numbers of millennials and baby boomers leaving traditional jobs to become contingent workers.
Technology is disrupting how organizations and job seekers find each other in the same way that it has disrupted the ways people hail a cab or find temporary lodging. Transparency is making it easier for job seekers to market themselves and find work—on their own terms.
An analysis of Ecolab’s current state found that the company already had more than 5,000 contingent workers globally and little process to manage them. Without proper management, contingent workers can create concerns for organizations in such areas as worker safety, spend control, data security, compliance and data privacy.
Rather than tackle the problem by focusing solely on contingent workers, Ecolab decided to take a more comprehensive approach. Leaders in the company’s Global Talent organization concluded that achieving future success will require companies to think about their workforces more broadly and incorporate contingent workers into their enterprise global talent strategies. Such an approach would enable Ecolab to leverage diverse worker types to create a more flexible, cost-effective workforce.
In response, Ecolab created the Contingent Talent Solution (CTS) which leverages cloud-based software to help manage the requisition-to-pay process, drive consistency and enable controls. The solution also integrates with Ecolab’s human capital management system to improve headcount reporting.
CTS delivers an improved user experience by making processes simpler, eliminating time-consuming searches for contingent worker suppliers and giving users access to data and insights at their fingertips. CTS was implemented in the U.S. in February 2018. Since that region represents half of Ecolab’s global spend and contingent worker count, it was important that the solution be implemented in the U.S. first. A successful implementation there led the company’s Global Talent team to rollout CTS in the UK in November 2018.
The program is poised to go live in Mexico in early 2019, and the Global team has identified another four countries in Europe for 2019 and 2020 implementations of the solution.
In the three years since the initiative was begun, its use has saved Ecolab $9.7 million. The Contingent Talent Solution currently manages more than 1,000 workers and $70 million in spend. In partnership with Talent Acquisition and HR business partners, the Global Talent team is raising awareness of the importance of contingent workers to Ecolab’s total workforce and fostering recognition that taking a more integrated approach to workforce planning will improve the company’s ability to deliver a more skilled, cost-effective, flexible workforce.
In subsequent years, Ecolab will continue to integrate contingent workers into key aspects of the company’s global talent strategy—in areas such as talent planning, engagement, diversity and inclusion, and learning and development. Only then will Ecolab fully harness the potential of its contingent workforce.
This submission was co-authored by Anne Gotte, Vice President Head of Talent at Ecolab.