Comments following the NYHRPS Forum, November 15, 2016
Per a McKinsey and Co. report titled Independent work: Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy, some 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work. Also known as freelancers, contractors, members of the gig economy or the contingent workforce, this employment style is real and it is here to stay. On November 15, members of an NYHRPS Forum discussed the impact this work model is having on the HR function and the workplace dynamics.
Technology is Enabling the Growth of the Gig Economy
Managing complexity. Being agile and able to quickly respond to change. A wider variety of workplace skill sets than needed in previous years. Companies of all sizes are looking at ways to maximize the blending of a traditional employee workforce and non-traditional working relationships. Technology is a big enabler in creating the gig economy, however, these workforce changes are no longer a nuance to the technology functions. Rather, technology is creating platforms by which to acquire, engage and keep track of the work requirements and work deliverables.
Appropriate Cultural Changes will Ensure the Success of a Contingent Workforce
Key to making such a culture successful is understanding the scope and requirements of the work to be done. From there, leaders can determine how to hire such talent and “the time to competency” for such hires. Competency, however, is not enough. In a team-based organization, the culture is equally critical and the ability of the team to truly succeed is based on levels of trust that encourage creativity as well as an understanding of the corporate brand that will resonate in the work output.
Talent Development – Who Owns What?
The Disney Corporation was mentioned as a company that devotes a lot of time to the orientation and on-boarding of all staff and all contractors. As such, they have achieved a level of consistency in their ability to deliver customer happiness, superior customer experience, and a global brand.
In an environment where job descriptions quickly become obsolete and new specialty areas are demanded, where can members of the contingent workforce be trained? Within the concept of hiring top talent for temporary roles, should people be hired for their aptitude or their proven experience? And, as talent is brought into the business for varied periods of tenure, how does the employer capture and preserve the corporate knowledge that has been transferred in the process? In other words, who owns the training and development functions for temporary talent?
The Evolution of the Workplace
As leaders, we acknowledged that never before has the creation of a workforce planning discipline been more important; the requirements of the work to be done can be approached in such a broad variety of ways. Likewise, never before has the team culture been more important with the C-suite serving as the chief cheerleader of the culture and the facilitator of a team focused on an aligned purpose.
The NYHRPS Forums aim to deliver industry knowledge and thoughtful business considerations to be taken back for debate within our employer and client circles of influence. In closing, we walked away from the Forum thinking about four major categories of conversation that will improve the integration of a contingent workforce.
- The concept of good work vs good jobs expands the horizon for – who- delivers the outputs. (See John Boudreau article on the Employee vs Contractor Debate
- A holistic concept of individual aptitude and time to competency presents new options in delivering a truly diverse workforce.
- “Garbage-in Garbage Out” applies to the onboarding process of today’s contingent workforce. Embracing the contingent worker with the same level of orientation and an understanding of the company ethos is critical to getting the best outputs. Consideration should be given to what, if any, differential is made in the onboarding of employee vs a contractor.
- Delivery models for health insurance, long term savings and overall benefit programs are changing; while the individual need for these programs remain strongly intact.
We invite you to keep the conversation going by responding to this post and telling us what you have done with your Forum insights.
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Sharon Lewis is an independent consultant specializing in branding and communications strategies. Sharon sits on the Marketing Committee of NYHRPS and has an appointment on the Executive Council of AARPNY. Follow her @sharonlewisnyc.