Managing people is quite the challenge. Misunderstanding of varying personalities, different skill levels and paperwork plague any organization, even those most organized and experienced. Conflict and contract is simply a byproduct of being a human in business. Of course, ever-adaptable, people have developed numerous techniques to proactively manage these issues, one of the biggest being the development of a human resources department. An entire sector of a company meant to act as a bridge between the talent keeping organizations afloat.
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Then, in steps the contingent labor force to provide a new level of challenge. In 2015, a little over 40% of the workforce was made up of contingent workers, which is an almost 10% increase since 2005. The expectation is to see this number rise as technological advancements allow for easier connectivity and as the workforce grows increasingly interested in the flexibility of contractual work arrangements. These workers provide a great deal of benefits to an overall corporate strategy including the ability to answer skill shortages. But that doesn’t mean their talent comes without managerial challenges.
Think Holistically, Not Compartmentally
The “gig economy” is still fairly new to the workforce, which means the way we approach managing the temp laborer is also still new. Personnel Today spoke with Simon Fahie, a director with a contingent workforce management software who believes one of the primary problems companies face with these laborers is a company’s inability to properly plan financially for their entrance.
“It’s such an emerging area, but best practice is really about managing all areas of expenditure and compliance risk and joining them up to create a total workforce management programme.”
The fragmentation begins in the approach. Companies see their workforce as those who are employed and offer the skills necessary on a continual basis, and those who are contracted and bring specialized talent on a case by case basis. As Fahie points out, businesses don’t plan for that contractual work because that is what it is: contracted. It can begin when the resources are available and the need is realized, which brings in the financial divide.
Disorganization in the Process
On the other hand, a great deal of divide comes from the very disorganization of the process in general. At the end of the day, these temporary laborers are still employees. They will still have an influence on their skilled network and, most importantly, your business work and reputation. Improper protection of assets is one of the most detrimental roles a company can face in hiring temporary labor, and mostly because assets span so much more than budget. For example, you have a brand, both employer and consumer, where it’s important that contractual obligations and SOWs are upheld.
Additionally, a lack of planning generally leads to fuzzy processes, which endangers your company in more ways than one. A disorganized exit plan may leave confidential information and sensitive internal practices accessible by the temporary staff. If a nondisclosure is complete after the contract ends, this information is unprotected and susceptible.
Building a Management Plan
Taking into account the above challenges, it’s important that organization takes a front seat in introducing temporary laborers to your company. Begin by understanding the employment forecast as it stands now. That doesn’t mean today or even next month. As time has progressed, it should be clear when and how talent needs have changed which should shed light on patterns. Predicting these changes will help ensure the temporary labor is budgeted for, found and trained before the current workforce is strained.
Ask questions like:
- What skills does my current team possess?
- What skill shortages are there in my organization?
- Are there seasons of skill change? (i.e. the 4th quarter requires more specialized accounting or strategic development than any others.)
- Are there seasons of economic change (i.e. summer months see a decrease in business income, which mean more creative selling push in the spring months.)
- What period of time is better for innovation and experimentation?
From these questions, devise a 12-month plan just as all other financial investments are addressed. This should include what projects will take place, how long they will be necessary and what will constitute completion.
It’s acceptable (and suggested) to use the plan to look for optimal times for innovation and creativity, which is a pivotal part of building a sustainable business resilient to change. In other words, discovering the time when your budget and workload allows for brand reassessment and product development will ensure your business model is being tended to in addition to your workforce.
Understanding the responsibilities that come along with procuring a temporary labor force is not simple, and working with staffing agencies doesn’t always remove the blinders. At People Ticker, we unveil critical insights on labor rates and help companies make informed, strategic decisions regarding operations and finances.