Understanding the changing face of the workforce

by 02 Apr 2012

Understanding the changing face of the work place and the role played by white collar contractors is critical for employers. Running a sustainable business and being an Employer of Choice over the next 10 years will increasingly mean creating conditions that not only accommodate and attract the best possible permanent staff but also appeal to and include the rapidly emerging and powerful demographic of contract workforce.

The reality of today is that there is an ongoing fundamental shift in the global and local market towards assignment and project based work. The workforce is moving from the traditional master-servant “permanent” workforce structure, to a blended workforce balance by “non-permanent” contract workers. Over the past few years organisations have increasingly turned to white collar contractors (referred to as Independent Professionals or IPros by Entity Solutions) as a means for facilitating a scalable workforce that supports sustainability and profitability. Many labour force publications, reports and thought leaders continue to assert that there is a major shift in recruitment and employment strategies taking place, with more people taking on contact roles than ever before and even more organisations choosing to engage the expertise of skilled IPros.
The evolution of the contract workforce has emerged at a time when organisations are facing increasing global competitiveness necessitating the need for them to be more flexible, agile and efficient in order to remain sustainable. As a means of remaining sustainable in the new world of work, organisations’ hiring, retention and performance management policies and strategies will need to include both the permanent and contract workforce – or risk facing a competitive disadvantage and becoming redundant.

So, what do you need to do now?
In order to find the right balance between your permanent and contract workforce, first you need to evaluate your company’s current condition; then you establish a strategy based on the outcomes of your evaluation, and finally engage the right people to support your business goals moving forward.

Evaluate your current workforce
Forward-thinking companies are evaluating their current workforce now and ensuring that their recruitment, employment and engagement strategies are set up to support future growth.

Identifying your current issues, challenges and problems is the first step and will guide you in establishing desired outcomes and company goals. Once you have a handle on what the issues are and where you want to be, you need to consider whether you have the right people on board to achieve those goals.  

Establish a strategy based on the outcomes of your evaluation
After you have evaluated your organisation’s current condition, you will have a better idea of where you are and where you want to be; putting you in a perfect position to establish a workforce model that is going to support your goals. Align your recruitment and employment/engagement plan to that of your business goals by designing a strategy according to the outcome of your evaluation.

Now you need to establish what the team that is going to support your outcomes will look like. Consider what functions you need performed and what skills are required to perform those functions. This will help determine how your workforce needs to be structured in terms of permanent employees to perform core business functions and IPros to assist in areas where critical and specialised skills are required for a pre-determined period.

Engage the right people to support your business goals
With an established plan in place, your organisation now needs to seek out the skilled professionals to support you in achieving company goals. Recognise that there is a fundamental paradigm shift taking place in the workforce and adjust your mindset about your workforce options.  It’s not about creating a full time or a part time position anymore. It’s about finding the right people to perform the role; may it be a full time, part time or a contract role.

Creating a fertile environment for IPros
As the engagement of IPros continues to emerge as a critical strategy to support businesses’ sustainability, it’s important to recognise that they often do not go through the same search, select, recruit and induction program as permanent employees. This evolving workforce landscape presents many time consuming and complex challenges to organisations wanting to engage IPros. A Professional Engagement Services Company (Contractor Management Services Company) can provide invaluable services, as well as elusive benefits; to both IPros and the organisations that engage them. Some of the tangible benefits include, but are not limited to, risk mitigation, financial reward and time and cost efficiencies.

You must also know who you’re dealing with. IPros differ in how they want to be treated. According to the IPro Index 2011 a research study conducted by Monash University and sponsored by Entity Solutions, IPros are highly competent and self-aware individuals, who are happiest when working intensely. Don’t just focus all of your attention, time, energy and resources figuring out how to attract and retain the talented permanent workforce, but to also do the same for the contract workforce. The more you understand about the attitudes and motivations of the IPros, the better your ability to develop relationships of mutual benefit.

How we engage and mange people is transforming and being an Employer of Choice is now defined in completely new ways that go well beyond the traditional human resource management model. In order to create a sustainable business that will continue to flourish in the new world of work, organisations should remain agile, flexible and progressive in their mindset about workforce options in order to ensure that they have the best people to deliver the best outcomes for their business.

About the author

Matthew Franceschini is CEO, Entity Solutions


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