Mercer, WorkMarket partner to deliver freelance talent services

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Professional services firm Mercer this week signed an agreement to offer freelance employee management software from technology provider WorkMarket.

Mercer employer clients will have access to WorkMarket’s cloud-based freelance management platform to either manage their team of freelancers and part-time workers, or access WorkMarket’s directory of IT, media, insurance, retail and marketing professionals who participate in the gig economy.

The service allows employers to manage freelancers, store their contact information, record and display their expertise such as professional certifications and licenses, and schedule their work shifts so that they do not violate contract work requirements. Employers also have the option of using WorkMarket to pay their freelancers with payment services from ADP, which acquired WorkMarket in January.

Historically, employers would rely on a spreadsheet to manage their part-time and freelance workforce, says Susan Haberman, U.S. leader of career business for Mercer.

“This is a technology platform to manage one of the fastest growing segments of the workforce,” she says. “When we think about what it means to have a workforce for the future and the expectation that we will have more gig workers and not fewer, we need tools and technology to help support and manage them.”

The WorkMarket service has been operational since 2010, and an average of 150 freelance professionals register their contact information, work history, payment scale and licensing information every day. WorkMarket claims to manage 3,500 assignments daily.

If a WorkMarket client opts to use an “open system” version of the service, they can access the WorkMarket database of freelancers. Employers also can opt to use WorkMarket in a closed system that manages an employers’ specific stable of freelancers. These employers opt out of sharing their workers’ information to other WorkMarket users.

Mercer plans to make the offering available to both HR executives and managers who need to hire freelancers. Mercer declined to discuss the pricing of the WorkMarket service.

“If a manager needed someone for three nights a week, I would go to this platform to say, ‘Who do I have in my network, what are their skills and capabilities and what’s the price and how do I align them as a manager?’” Haberman says. “I would use that as an HR professional and even as a finance professional so I can see how much of my spending goes to my gig workers.”

The WorkMarket platform also allows employers to rate freelance workers with a star rating system. Freelancers receive work assignments through the platform complete with the work assignment’s address and manager’s name and contact information. When workers are done with a specific task — such as installing a network router — they can post their completed job assignment on the smartphone complete with pictures of their complete tasks.

“As HR consultants, Mercer is advising their clients to stay competitive and one of the answers is expanding beyond your four walls. You can’t just rely on your full time employees, you have to have a diverse source of talent and that includes freelance marketplace,” says WorkMarket.

WorkMarket clients include The New York Times, Walgreens and Yahoo. A WorkMarket spokesman says that its “bread and butter” are freelance IT professionals.

Mercer and WorkMarket declined to confirm if Mercer clients are using or testing the WorkMarket service at press time.

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