Dec 01, 2012

CrowdSourcing: Recruitment that Harnesses the Web

Crowdsourcing is defined by Jeff Howe as ‘the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call’.

How do you recruit 10,000 people in a month? Well to start with, why would any firm need to?  To answer that, look at the growth history of Apple with a small employee base to its now 300,000 employees in less than two years.  Or sometimes, you need workers available on demand in anticipation of a project or relevant work.  In that scenario, a company does not need to stay with unused capacity or untapped talent, as in the ramp up for a new product launch and subsequent ramp down when the project is over.   Crowdsourcing offers a solution by allowing companies to hire vast numbers and diverse talents on a demand basis. On the cost-saving side, it’s quite encouraging due to its flexible nature of availability.  The crowd workforce is the “disaggregated workforce”, or the growth of jobs outside of “traditional firms”

Crowd sourcing is like the mining industry, where a business, person or entity has the multiple choice of the output and flexibility to choose the best from that without putting a conventional process in place.

It is a win-win type of situation where business have the liberty to pick the best, and workers have the liberty to work as per choice and location.  Although crowdsourcing has been utilized for a long time in journalism and intelligence information, it now has an application in almost everything, whether is a source of knowledge or as an intellectual contribution platform.

Crowd hiring retention is higher than the job site hires, and their recruitment is 55% higher.

Utilizing Crowdsourcing Effectively

In order for companies to utilize crowdsourcing effectively, certain attributes are mandatory:

  1. Proper means of attracting applicants
  2. Strong social network
  3. Incentive structure for referrals
  4. Implementation of crowdsourcing (employee referrals, social referrals)
  5. Clear and defined roles for the hires. 

However, companies should be aware that crowdsourcing should be used as an additional source of workers, not as a substitute of traditional job sourcing methods.  Additionally, companies should be prepared for change management as the responsibility of the hiring manager is offloaded

Case Studies of Successful Crowdsourcing

  •, in 2005, created and launched its Amazon Mechanical Turk, a platform for crowdsourcing tasks known as “HITs” (“Human Intelligence Tasks”).  This platform allowed for the creation and publication of “HITS” which people could execute and be paid for.
  • In November of 2007, The Democratic National Committee launched Flipper TV, and McCainpedia in May 2008 to crowdsource video gathered by Democratic trackers and research compiled by DNC staff.  This could be used by users in any way they chose – blog posts, YouTube Videos etc. 
  • Since 2008, social media giant, Facebook, has utilized crowdsourcing to create different language version of its site.  The company claims that this offers the advantage of providing users with site versions that are more highly compatible with local cultures
  • General Electric has organized a multimillion dollar challenge to find innovative, groundbreaking ideas to create cleaner, more efficient, and economically viable grid technologies.  The company plans to announce the winner on November 16, 2020. 
  • In 2007, Pepsi launched a marketing campaign asking consumers to design the look of a Pepsi can, with the winner receiving a large cash prize along with having their artwork featured on the global company’s product. 
  • A Unilever brand dropped its ad agency and turned to crowdsourcing platform, IdeaBounty, to find creative ideas for its new TV campaign in 2009.
“In the traditional model you have affinity with the brand and this helps create engagement in the recruitment and training process. We have a very well defined process of recruitment, on boarding, training and development. Clearly this would not be applicable in a crowd model. It needs a radical rethinking of the management and motivation of people, because even in crowd sourcing you want to attract and retain good people. Perhaps the social reputation route is the right model.” ~Subroto Gupta, VP or Corporate Initiatives at Genpact