The future of work can be flexible and fair
Greater flexibility, filling up skill requirements and lower costs are just some of the benefits companies are hoping to gain by turning to the external workforce. As companies continue to shift from a predominantly permanent workforce to a mix of permanent and external arrangements, what sort of workplace should individuals expect? How will a growing external workforce affect jobs and morale? How will companies create fair and enjoyable work for external workers? In this blog, we explore these issues and suggest some of the ways organisations can respond to the challenges of a hybrid workforce.
The new normal?
The new normal. A term that’s been used to describe everything from remote work and virtual meetings to the adoption of automation and AI. But, with external workers making up over 40% of a company’s total workforce spend, a hybrid workforce is already becoming the new normal for permanent employees.
While there are certainly benefits of a hybrid workforce, there are also a number of (potential) pitfalls. Research shows that changing the dynamics of the workforce can affect the morale of permanent employees. They may worry that their job is at risk, having seen colleagues leave or be replaced. Or they may be overwhelmed by the prospect of having to embrace another new way of doing things - particularly if previous change initiatives haven’t been successful.
Navigating these concerns is difficult. And if companies aren’t careful, it could lead to a culture of “Us Vs. Them” - “Permanent Employees versus External Workers”. The right kind of communication is key to building a flexible workforce and maintaining happy, productive, and successful teams. Leadership must be transparent about the importance of the external workforce and more clearly articulate the rationale behind a hybrid approach.
That said, it’s also important to let employees know what’s in it for them. Maybe it’s the flexibility to take that holiday they’ve requested or an extra pair of hands to help with demand. Keeping communication consistent and involving employees early is crucial for effectively managing a blended workforce.
The external workforce perspective
The good news is that creating a welcoming environment will help external workers be more productive. Companies also need to put the right structures in place to help teams manage external worker performance. This should include how to define the work, how to clearly communicate what the work is, how to track the progress of a project and how to review it on completion. We believe that the type of employment arrangement should not prevent individuals from accessing fair and enjoyable work.
Wherever possible, employers should engage with a diverse range of external workers and suppliers. Just 10% of services are procured from diverse or underrepresented suppliers, despite it making sense for reasons beyond levelling the future of work. We’ve seen that diverse companies are a lot more likely to benefit financially.
And, when it comes to finances - pay on time, pay transparently, and pay fairly.
It’s clear that the workforce is changing, and it has the potential to be for the better. However, unless companies create the right culture and initiatives, it will be difficult for people across the workforce. In our next article, we dive deeper into how new working arrangements impact businesses.
We’ll be posting our next Creating a Fairer Future of Work article soon. But if you can’t wait until then and you want to chat to us about the Future of Work, you can email us at email@example.com.