Crowdstaffing has earned the prestigious 2019 Rising Star & Premium Usability Awards from FinancesOnline, a popular B2B software review platform. This recognition is given out annually to products[...]
May 13, 2019Read More
Businesses in nearly every industry have come to rely on contingent talent as specialists and flexible experts rather than temps who fill vacant seats during absences, seasonal demands or personnel transitions. With increasing frequency, we’re integrating these skilled contractors into our primary workforces. Yet, we still haven’t integrated them into our internal knowledge systems. And that’s a missed opportunity to tap into their intelligence and ideas, especially as the sharing economy’s reach continues to expand across all facets of business.
Years ago, the term “contingent workers” made a lot of sense. Gifted contractors began taking on more pivotal roles in their assignments or tackling mission-critical projects. Referring to them as temps seemed to fall short of the services they were providing. I believe we’re witnessing a similar paradigm shift right now. Contingent talent are no longer, as the name implies, a “Plan B” or backup. They are important contributors to the companies they support, although their working arrangements may not be indefinite. Consider some of the usage statistics from Oxford Economics Workforce 2020 data:
The report also reveals six factors driving this unstoppable growth trend:
Unfortunately, the complementary workforce often finds itself excluded from the intranet and other knowledge systems reserved for traditional employees. Yet as the lines between full-time and complementary talent blur, organizational leaders need to approach the blended workforce with a different perspective.
Companies strive toward more elastic models to remain competitive and adjust quickly to economic fluctuations. Flexibility, however, brings challenges associated with maintaining alignment to corporate mission, employment brand, quality control and compliance with emerging labor regulations. There’s also the pressing matter of protecting trade secrets and intellectual property.
In traditional organizations, the intranet is constructed as a sort of fortress to safeguard information, which is open to only full-time employees. Contingent workers are left floundering to connect through email, limited chat or conferencing groups, and external file systems like Google Drive, Basecamp or Dropbox, through which they share work with immediate peers.
For talent in knowledge-based roles, these restrictions hinder the delivery of truly exceptional output. Meanwhile, companies prevent their teams from collecting vital subject matter expertise that could be utilized for future initiatives and projects. To reap all the rewards the on-demand economy offers to businesses and talent alike, contingent workforce leaders should strive to help their clients design an inclusive digital platform.
The first step in developing a digital organization is to rethink the existing business model -- conceiving a strategy for the entire ecosystem, not just the organization. A high-performing platform should focus on the universal user experience. Vendor management systems (VMS), for instance, are excellent tools for automation, analysis and visibility into the contingent workforce. Yet, they are usually isolated environments outside the intranet, with limited networking capabilities.
Encouraging VMS providers and clients to integrate their systems can lay the foundations for knowledge sharing in a blended workplace. There are also new hiring platforms that have created full-fledged marketplace exchanges, connecting talent suppliers, talent, and hiring organizations. These are feature-rich data landscapes that can interface with VMS tools, HR applications and enterprise resource systems.
The goal is to facilitate the seamless exchange of data across the global user population -- everyone who will be accessing the platform. That could include candidates who apply through the portal, hiring managers who post job orders, MSP teams or staffing providers that analyze metrics, internal executives who study performance, and more. A robust platform, no matter how simple or complex, unites everyone in the same ecosystem, encouraging the transfer and storage of knowledge from the entire workforce.
Move toward a truly networked approach. Thought-leading enterprises are transforming departments into project teams. By creating these groups, where traditional employees and complementary workers collaborate with the same access to information, performance soars.
This approach empowers talent to exercise greater degrees of initiative, align with internal and external customer needs, and assume more accountability for their performance. When teams are fluid and integrated with a larger network of other teams, instead of operating in silos, the emphasis on control shifts to the benefits of speed and collaboration. You end up with a chaos-tolerant, agile process that allows for real-time adjustments, on-demand information, fewer bureaucratic roadblocks and greater attention paid to the user experience.
In any organization, there will be individuals with domain expertise (deep knowledge of the skills and processes needed) and those with functional expertise (understanding of the company, role, mission). Generally speaking, it would be unwise to presume that each group understands the inner workings of the other. Yet, they must intersect. A data analyst probably isn’t familiar with the nuances of HR: labor relations, employment law, recruiting techniques, performance monitoring, sourcing strategies, compliance and so forth. And HR may understand only enough about data curation to be dangerous. Yet, both groups need one another to succeed.
Companies choose skilled contingent professionals for their niche expertise and ability to fill in existing knowledge gaps. By incorporating them into the same technology platforms and physical groups, based on the project, contingent workforce program managers can unite the realms of domain and functional expertise.
The most progressive organizations have already become early adopters of enterprise social networks. HipChat and Slack have become mainstays in corporate communication. Through these mobile platforms, complementary and full-time workers can easily communicate and collaborate with other team members in real time. Combined with breakthroughs in streaming video apps, an integrated work culture arises.
Live video and messaging systems -- such as Periscope, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Hangouts, Snapchat and others -- have dramatically changed the way talent interact and learn. That’s a key finding in a study of more than 4,000 international employers by the BlueJeans Network. Over 70 percent of respondents believe video can improve the way they communicate with colleagues. Another 69 percent feel that live video systems in the workplace will bolster retention across all levels of the organization.
Aim to construct an on-demand office environment through the use of apps that allow all talent to collaborate while ensuring consistency, security and buy in.
Ultimately, businesses can achieve greater success when they include complementary talent into their digital ecosystems through a platform approach. Here are the key considerations suggested by Nonlinear Enterprise, from an article by Molly Anglin:
By influencing positive disruptions and incorporating the complementary workforce in a meaningful way, leaders can engineer the on-demand business of the future – today!