The Blended Workforce: Myth or Reality?
Blended workforces operate in many industries and the one thing they have in common is that their success or failure often comes down to two key factors: how well non-permanent staff align with the organisation’s culture and values, and how well an organisation can embed and facilitate a blended workforce and drive optimum productivity at the same time.
Looking firstly at cultural fit, the mistake some employers make is that they allow their organisation’s values to be diluted for non-permanent staff. But your non-permanent employees should be a good ‘fit’ for your team and the way your organisation operates, so clearly communicate your values to your recruiter and hiring managers to ensure the right candidates come on board in the first place. If you fail to do this you potentially weaken your brand and values, and productivity may not be as high as it otherwise would be. If however non-permanent employees share the same ethics and are able to embrace your organisation’s culture, the foundation is there to build a strong working relationship.
Secondly, the attitude you have towards your non-permanent employees, whether they are temporaries, independent contractors, freelancers, time-based SOWs or service providers, is also important and plays a big part in their successful integration into your team. Essentially, you should treat your non-permanent employees as you would your permanent staff without exposing the organisation to undue risk as a result of co-employment legislation.
It’s also important that your permanent workforce understands your long-term workforce strategy. Get them onboard so they are clear on the strategy you have taken and why, embrace non-permanent staff and appreciate the benefits they will bring.
Permanent staff should also be made aware of any flexible employment models you have offered or are using with non-permanent staff – and they should be given the same flexible working options. After all, you’ll probably have permanent employees who have worked for you for several years, and they should not be made to feel that there is a divide between them and new non-permanent staff.
In addition, offering flexible working options to existing permanent staff is a great step towards helping them look positively on a blended workforce.
You should also ensure that both permanent and non-permanent staff are treated the same when it comes to other workplace factors such as such as working hours and where they physically do their job. The permanent and non-permanent sections of your workforce should look and feel the same and deliver the same level of productivity – there’s only one difference and that is their terms of employment.
Successful blended workforces
Some of our clients in the financial services industry have had great success when it comes to creating a blended workforce. In fact, were you to spend a week or two in their organisation, you would be unable to tell who is a permanent employee and who is not.
The retail industry is another example of successful blended workforces. In retail, profit margins are so tight that organisations must ensure headcount reflects seasonal conditions. Employing people on a casual and seasonal basis allows this industry to operate while offering rewarding roles and employment opportunities to a portion of the workforce that cannot or do not want to work fulltime.
In addition, by utilising people who do not want a permanent role, employers often find they improve their workforce diversity. Organisations also find they can attract candidates with niche skills sets who seek a less structured working environment.
Having said all this, there are some areas where permanent and non-permanent staff should not be treated the same. For example, your non-permanent employees should not be given an annual appraisal. However even though you do not directly manage your non-permanent employees, all staff should still be aware of their objectives and management should be able to openly discuss their performance against those objectives. Where they are provided under an MSP, an agency or a service provider you can engage those suppliers to support in your performance management, without creating additional co-employment risk.
Get the balance right
In today’s global economy where market conditions can change rapidly, a blended workforce offers employers the flexibility they need to remain competitive. Moving towards 2020 an organisation’s agility will be dependent on its technology but also upon a workforce that can flex and change with market conditions. Organisations that get the balance right between permanent and non-permanent and then ensure their blended workforce operates successfully will therefore have an advantage over organisations with a more regimented approach.
Shane Little will be facilitating the world cafe session at #CWF15 in Sydney on 22-23 September. This session provides an open forum for delegates to have their say, share their ideas and gain practical understanding on a diverse range of topics related to implementing, managing and improving their contingent workforce strategy. Register your ticket for the event here.
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