Here’s how to make sure you don’t exclude a significant portion of your workforce

Contingent and temporary workforce, external and extended talents. Consultants, contractors, project-based workers and concert workers. These are all different labels for anyone who works for a company but is not classified as an employee.


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Some talent experts believe that today these workers understand up to 47% of the total workforce. Once reserved for short-term administrative workers and seasonal help, casual work has now expanded to include longer-term projects such as digital transformation initiatives and COVID vaccine research and development.

Although they occupy strategic positions, possess sophisticated skills, and work alongside full-time employees, extended workers are often underutilized and undervalued. Businesses need to understand the power of this category of workforce, and then harness that talent to impact productivity and bottom lines.

The rise of the enlarged workforce

There is a growing list of reasons why contract work is attractive to workers today. At the highest level, it allows individuals to create their own unrestricted career path. They can move from company to company and speed up their learning curve. They can increase or decrease their work, setting their own professional pace. This level of flexibility and control is of the utmost importance in today’s environment.

The business case for leveraging the expanded workforce is strong. Companies can scale up or down this portion of the workforce at will to meet their talent needs in real time with the ebb and flow of business. Temporary workers also allow companies to access specific skills for certain short-term projects such as digital transformation initiatives or seasonal financial demands. Another strategy is to bring in highly skilled contractors to train and develop full-time employees under their leadership.

These benefits are directly linked to the massive skills shortage that prevents companies from both meeting existing demand and executing strategic initiatives. No industry is immune to the urgent need for talent with unemployment at only 4.8%. Look ahead, companies post their highest hiring prospects in nearly 60 years. The enlarged workforce is a real and necessary pipeline of permanent workers, and the way companies perceive and treat casual workers plays an important role in whether these workers even want to be in the pipeline for these roles. .

Create a harmonious workforce to generate value

As all of these factors converge and we rely more on extended workers, we need to adopt workforce strategies to integrate each type of talent to have a positive impact on collaboration, culture, retention, productivity and results. How to integrate these workers to obtain better results when it is also necessary to distinguish them?

Separation is necessary to protect companies from the risks of co-employment: when two companies have obligations as an employer of the worker. In the case of the extended workforce, this is usually the recruiting company and the end customer.

Understand numbers and value. For companies to strategically optimize the skills already present within their organizations, they need visibility. It is essential to analyze the workforce in terms of skill count versus workforce, especially with the hectic pace of today’s business world and the lack of available talent. It starts with a strong recording system for all external work separate from employees and a way to view data and information on the entire workforce, including non-employees.

From a cultural perspective, everyone from their peers employed to the C suite should understand that up to half of the people working on your projects, attending your meetings, and fulfilling your company’s mission are workers. extensive and are just as valuable as anyone. other. Failure to do so can lead to an unhealthy cultural divide within your organization.

The pandemic has underscored this need for visibility. When the pandemic hit, many companies were unable to answer basic questions about their contingent workforce. Where are they? Who are they? Can they work remotely? Do they have what they need? This had a direct impact not only on the well-being of contractors, but also on the productivity of the company, unnecessarily hampering business continuity.

Technological tools such as a Supplier Management System (VMS) will increase the visibility and management of the contingent workforce. Your HRIS and ERP systems must integrate seamlessly with any casual staff management solution. Organizations need a system or tool that can bring non-employees as close as possible to your organization without disrupting full employment.

Examine the impact of your processes and policies on culture. Everyone wants to count and feel that their work is important. The feeling of being included is achievable regardless of how each employee is paid or classified. Realize the common points of entrepreneurs and employees: they contribute to the objectives of the project and the mission of the company.

Some of the ways that organizations distinguish between types of workers are archaic and deserve a re-examination of how it makes non-employees feel about the work they do. For example, companies can separate employees and casual workers within the physical office, or security badges are often different colors depending on the type of worker.

Delineating the risks and rewards of some of these age-old practices may reveal that some are less relevant today than they were before and in fact hamper your ability to make non-employees feel respected.

Culture is often determined by the boundaries of the business that are drawn, for better or for worse. The type of process and operational steps a business takes to employ casual workers directly informs the culture. And this culture has implications far beyond the employer-worker relationship. Regardless of the classification, your employees are also consumers of your products and services. The way you treat them has a direct impact on how they consume your brand.

The ultimate gut check is to ask yourself, “Does this policy create exclusionary behavior?” If so, it’s time to take a closer look. Companies need to pay attention to the impact of their processes on culture. Does separation of workspace lead to an “us versus them” mentality? Do the badges of different colors create a separation in the meetings? If the answer is yes, it probably has an impact on innovation and productivity and limits the potential of the company.

Leadership has an important role

Business leaders can and should be advocates for the larger workforce. Understanding the risk is important, but it should not be used as an excuse for giving up on deploying this highly productive group or treating outside workers as second class citizens.

First, leaders need to communicate the value of this segment of the workforce. This can only be credible if leadership understands the numbers and the strategic power that this workforce brings. Tracking, managing and analyzing this workforce with technology will make this possible.

Second, HR and purchasing need to work side by side to maximize the value of all workers. They should co-develop a comprehensive talent management strategy that takes into account the entire workforce. They must analyze the skills required and strike a balance with the nuances of supply and demand in the market. The enlarged workforce should not be an afterthought, but rather an important category of talent.

Team members must also work side by side, regardless of the classification of workers. Sometimes casual workers can pose as many obstacles as full-time employees. It’s up to team leaders to find that out and work to dissolve these cliques.

Everyone in the organization, from top to bottom, needs to understand the value of the entire workforce. Leadership should model a code of conduct and behavior that promotes respect. Policies should outline procedures ensuring a balance between risk mitigation and cultural impact, and technology is needed to ensure workforce optimization. When this happens, businesses will see teams come together, culture and morale improve, and productivity increase.

Doug Leeby is CEO of Beeline, helping companies around the world better manage the larger workforce.

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