The rise of the multi-channel workforce

A growing number of people want to work in a way that’s flexible, untethered and in control of their career trajectory

The rise of the multi-channel workforce
Australia’s workforce is changing. The days when somebody takes an entry-level job at a company and stays there until retirement are long gone for most. A growing number of people want to work in an entirely different way – flexible, untethered and in control of their career trajectory.  

That’s giving rise to a multi-channel workforce that goes beyond an employer’s permanent workforce to include freelancers, contractors and contingent workers who augment and enhance capabilities across enterprises. Flexibility is a major drawing card for talent who increasingly choose to join the external workforce. Many can work remotely. They move from project to project, managing their career and selecting work opportunities that enable them to build skills and amass different experiences along their professional journey.

It’s a contributing factor in the transformation of labour markets. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows casual employees now account for a quarter of the workforce. Contractor numbers are also on the rise, having increased by 16,000 to nearly 1.03 million since 2015.

In response to these trends, smart employers are building a multi-channel workforce that supplements permanent employees with highly skilled project-based workers. This gives them access to the right skills wherever and whenever they’re needed without paying for expensive talent when it’s not required.

A more efficient talent management process

The drive to digital, mobile and contract-based working has the potential to increase staffing efficiency. Instead of hiring specialised skillsets on permanent contracts, employers can flex staffing requirements by engaging contractors to support full-time teams. Businesses can then take on additional projects, innovate and explore new markets drawing on niche skillsets.

Traditional HR systems are not built to source and manage this external workforce. Businesses can benefit from automating standard processes for vetting, onboarding and oversight of casual employees or other talent joining their flexible workforce. Leading companies adopt tools in the cloud to give them greater transparency and efficiency as the multi-channel workforce plays a growing role in their businesses.

This diverse talent is often sourced through staffing agencies, online marketplaces and consultancies, as well as a business’ alumni pool or even job candidates viewed as perfect fit for a project but not the job for which they applied.  To maximise the value that can be realised from the multi-channel workforce, businesses need to see the big picture and analyse what skills they’ll need at any given time. They also must have a clearly defined view of the output that can be expected from the talent they engage.

The analysis, sourcing, and onboarding of talent must then happen at speed in today’s digital businesses. Automated solutions deliver that requisite agility, and contribute to a business environment where people want to work. 

The benefits of a multi-channel workforce

The impact of building a multi-channel workforce is significant. Not only can businesses respond to talent needs in a more agile fashion, they can access highly skilled people for individual projects. For instance, a manufacturer designing a piece of industrial equipment can access an engineer with specific expertise. A hospital can source specialised nurses.

There are also clear workforce benefits. A scientist with a passion for pharmaceutical research and development may prefer the lifestyle of contracting as opposed to being on a company’s full-time payroll. In fact, workers with skills that are in great demand increasingly prefer the flexibility of moving from project to project. They choose contracts that hold appeal based on the nature of the work or level of compensation.

Workplace of tomorrow

As the multi-channel workforce reshapes the employment model born out of the industrial revolution, hiring managers can seek out and hire specialised talent where and when they need it. Workers, meanwhile, are seizing new opportunities for flexible employment as they grab greater control of their careers.

These trends mean Australia’s multi-channel workforce is sure to grow. The best talent will naturally be attracted to employers that make flexible employment processes as seamless as possible. This is rapidly becoming a key differentiator for businesses. If you want to be successful in the workplace of tomorrow you need to prepare for it now.

About the Author

Sean Garbett is the SAP Fieldglass vice president, managing its business across the Asia Pacific region and Japan. Sean works with companies to help them consider their options for balancing digital transformation with the personal nature of workforce engagement. He previously worked for Ernst & Young and ManpowerGroup.

About SAP Fieldglass

SAP Fieldglass, a longstanding leader in external talent management and services procurement, is used by organizations around the world to find, engage and manage all types of flexible resources. Our cloud-based, open platform has been deployed in more than 180 countries and helps companies transform how work gets done, increase operational agility and accelerate business outcomes in the digital economy. Backed by the resources of SAP, our customers benefit from a roadmap driven by a continuous investment in innovation.

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