In a world embracing the reality of on-demand workforces, HR must involve itself in processes supporting attraction, onboarding, development and review, says Nick Southcombe
According to the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, the workforce composition is changing. Organisations are reporting an increase in the employment of contingent, gig, freelance and contract workers. Respondents indicated a 36% increase in the engagement of such workers over the past five years.
Matthew Franceschini, Group MD, Entity Solutions agrees with the findings, “The US, UK and Australia are leading the way, whilst Asian countries are now starting to understand the benefits of using contingent labour.” This new workforce composition requires HR to review policies to accommodate the changing landscape of employee types.
Traditionally, procurement was engaged by HR to supply contingent workers. With the shift in workforce composition toward on-demand staffing, HR must now take a seat at the demand-labour supply table. Where procurement focuses on best rates and best value, HR must assert the need for best fit.
Attracting talent to your organisation over a competitor is becoming a high priority and a significant challenge for HR. As Franceschini says, “The professional contingent worker is a savvy and sophisticated person. Of course, they want a good rate but aside from that, they are mainly interested in the quality of the project, the professionals involved and how it can lead to the next project and what they can achieve.” The challenges continue for HR who must create compelling value propositions to an in-demand resource.
“With the shift in workforce composition toward on-demand staffing, HR must now take a seat at the demand-labour supply table”
Differences in how contingent workers are recruited have become apparent. Traditionally, gig workers could work anywhere, anytime, using their own equipment, provided they meet the statement of work. Historically, the organisation engaging the resource didn’t require background checks, such as police clearances or other assessments, but this now raises concerns about privacy. Indeed, 42% of Deloitte respondents worry about the loss of confidential information due to contractor use and 36% worry about what these employment practices will do to their overall reputation.
HR also needs to reconsider how to sell their organisations as employers to the gig worker. A company can no longer promote security and opportunities for internal advancement as reasons for joining; contingent workers don’t value such things.
To the other more traditional groups of employees, contract workers are widely known to earn higher fixed rates of pay. It’s deliberate, covering them for benefits such as leave that more traditional employees take for granted. However, this can cause disenchantment and disengagement among employees who are only focussed on what they earn compared to what a contractor gets. Such perceived disparity can impact how well a gig worker is embraced and the quality of support they get from their co-workers.
It’s clear then that HR has work to do to accommodate the requirements of a workforce that is varied, dynamic and often not well understood. Indeed, 84% of respondents to the Deloitte survey said they had no established policies and practices to manage the variety of worker types that prevail today.
HR must define the process of recruiting contingent workers in the same way they would any other employee type. Policies must make sure that procurement handles vendor search and contracting, but leaves consideration of skill sets, experience, cultural and compliance requirements to HR. Where recruitment is decentralised, training should be offered to line managers engaging the services of contingent workers via vendors.
“It’s clear then that HR has work to do to accommodate the requirements of a workforce that is varied, dynamic and often not well understood”
HR must also begin to consider how they can stand out when attracting talent to their organisation. Questions such as the following need to be answered:
- Are social media and influencers engaged to promote internal culture, talent pool and projects?
- Are you clear on your suppliers and where they specialise or excel?
- Are gig workers being exit-surveyed to determine how they would speak about you as an employer?
- Are gig workers being used as a network for referring other gig workers?
- What makes you special?
As much as freelancers crave independence, flexibility and work/life balance, they equally crave a sense of belonging and clarity of purpose when completing project work. This requires HR to give careful consideration to the process of onboarding. Introduce the employee to key team members, share the company vision and how the role fits into it. Don’t overlook a cultural orientation. You’re aiming to embrace a contingent employee as one of your own, who will then become an advocate for your brand when the contract expires.
In a world embracing the reality of on-demand workforces, HR must involve itself in processes supporting attraction, onboarding, development and review. Of course, such mechanisms likely exist, but are they suited to an emerging on-demand workforce? HR must determine what makes its organisation unique and promote this to a specialised and highly sought after talent pool. By doing so, HR will differentiate their organisational brand into one the gig worker will gravitate to.
Frontier Software is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, 22 August with thought leader, Shelley Flett on how HR can create empowered leaders in their organisations. Sign up here