The Blended Workforce – What Is It & How Can We Master It?

The strategy of the supplementing a Permanent Workforce with Variable/Just-in-Time workers, now known as the Blended Workforce, has been around for decades. But in the last five years improvements in technology and the age of the App, combined with a new economic reality that has driven the rise of gig workers, has made it convenient enough that organisations are beginning to recognise its true value and potential.
Why is that? To answer that, we need to first understand what exactly a Blended Workforce is and the ongoing workforce trends.
HRZone defines a blended workforce as one that “combines a variety of employees on different contracts, including permanent full-time, part-time, temporary, contractors and freelancers.” Author and futurist, Jeanne Meister, wrote in a recent Forbes article about the Blended Workforce and she describes it as “composed of full time employees as well as consultants, contractors, freelancers, part time employees, and other contingent workers, collectively known as Gig Economy Workers.”
And if you have been following recent news on the labour market, you would most definitely have heard about the rise of the gig economy and how this non-permanent workforce is growing faster than before. Contingent workers are believed to comprise around 30 percent of the market currently and will grow to about 40 percent by 2020.
This trend is greatly facilitated by changing attitudes among employees, especially the many Millennials who value flexibility, variety and purpose over the promise of a well-paying job. According to David Brown, Human Capital Partner at Deloitte, there is “a move towards shorter-term experiences, and a desire for mobility and flexibility among many workers” and now “it’s about the career experience” rather than career progression.
[Tweet “More & more people put #flexibility over #pay. Do they have a place in your #business?”]
Also important to understand is how access to non-permanent workforce has changed. It used to be that they could only be recruited through Recruitment Suppliers and Consultancies. Today there are several platforms (e.g. NVOI, Sidekicker, Expert360, Freelancer, etc.) that connect gig economy workers easily to potential employers.
So let’s summarise:

  • The non-permanent workforce is growing and it is an increasingly valuable source of Talent for organisations;
  • Non-permanent workforce can be easily and readily accessed by both organisation and workers; and
  • Increasing number of workers prefer jobs that offer flexibility, variety, purpose and mobility.

So the questions beg:

  • How do we change our attitudes towards the non-permanent workforce and start looking at them as an invaluable component of the workforce?
  • How do we attract, hire and manage them successfully to create win-win outcomes for all parties?

Changing Attitudes

This can be accomplished by Talent Acquisition or HR providing advice to the hiring managers on the type of worker that would be best fit for the work to be undertaken.
To make this decision you would consider items such as:

  • The length and nature of the work to be undertaken;
  • The type of skill that would ordinarily be available to fulfil this work; and
  • Whether the work could be undertaken remotely.

A business can readily build rules and practises surrounding that decision-making process to gain consistency in this regard.

Managing a Blended Workforce

To manage a Blended Workforce effectively, you must have “Total Talent Visibility”. According to research by Ardent Partners, “TTV” allows the business to find the perfect match between requirement and Talent, all the while forecasting quality, impact, and any potential legal risks. It enables organisations to:

  • Make better decisions on the optimum worker to use;
  • Gain agility and ramp up ability to better manage individual projects;
  • Develop permanent workforce by having a set program to transfer skills from knowledge workers;
  • Reduce costs through optimising the use of resources;
  • Lower the number of redundancies as you would be able to increase staff mobility;
  • Improve quality of project outcomes by using the best workers available.

[Tweet “How can you retain #talent in the #gigeconomy?”]
Once you’ve achieved this, the next challenge would be to figure how you can encourage your Talent to return for the next gig. According to Brown, he says the key is to create a “stickiness” so that contingent workers stay connected to their organisation after they move on to another gig. This could be in the form of creating an inclusive culture or something as straightforward as treating your Talent fairly.
I understand many large and medium sized organisations are looking at how they can best achieve these goals. The Contingent Workforce Conference on 12-13 September will address these issues in a number of sessions. Don’t miss out!
Images: Shutterstock

The Contingent Workforce Conference is the perfect event to learn more about how you can build your business up by making your contingent workforce function a success. Tickets available here.

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