April 13, 2016

3 Ways to Take a Total Talent Approach to Your Flexible Workforce


Workforces at most of today’s large companies are managed by one of two departments within the overall organization:human resources (HR) or procurement.

Full-time and part-time “permanent” employees hired through traditional HR channels are recruited, onboarded, and trained in traditional, company-branded processes. Managed by HR, theses employees have their work progress tracked and analyzed to promote their career growth, and they are included in business planning and forecasting.

External workers, however, fall into an entirely different bucket. These workers – including contingent laborers, independent contractors, workers engaged on a project basis – are most often managed by the procurement department in a siloed fashion. While external work has its advantages – competitive wages, flexibility, and fresh new assignments – these workers don’t often enjoy the benefits of having their career paths actively managed and cultivated.

While companies can sufficiently operate in these siloed scenarios, they can benefit more by breaking down the walls, so to speak, and encouraging an environment of collaboration between HR and procurement. The forward-thinking companies that take a holistic approach to workforce management tend to be more successful at understanding the compositions of their workforces, acquiring the best available talent no matter the engagement type, and accurately forecasting their workforce costs.

Here are three ways to improve your total talent management with tighter collaboration between HR and procurement:

1. Create a Consistent Corporate Brand Throughout All Worker Engagement Processes

To find the best external workers, companies have to look beyond costs and focus on sourcing individuals that culturally align with the overall values of the company. Because flexible workers have the opportunity to work on multiple projects at one time, it’s important for companies to make themselves attractive to these workers to ensure they are happy, engaged, and productive. While these workers may not work full-time, they still serve as crucial components of their company’s overall success.

Project managers, human resources leaders, and executive team members alike can benefit from making contingent workers feel like integral parts of the company’s team, brand, and culture. There are various ways to do this, like including contingent workers in company-wide events and outings and ensuring that company values resonate throughout all lines of business.

AirportAt the end of the day, companies care about maintaining positive cultures, and they also want to limit turnover. Making contingent workers feel like valued parts of the organization will improve the overall work experience and push the company toward these twins goals of strong culture and limited turnover.

2. Collect and Apply Data Across All Worker Types to Make More Strategic Workforce Decisions

Across all industries and geographies, companies that find ways to use the vast amount of data they generate have a leg up on their competition. Aggregating data and analyzing it properly is a crucial facet of workforce management. Many companies don’t have the proper visibility into how many external workers they employ and what kind of impact they have on specific projects. The benefits of having complete workforce data globally means knowing not just the number of workers, but also their locations, salaries, skill sets, tenures, and more. This level of detail helps companies implement targeted workforce strategies that enable best-in-class management.

3. Create New Ways to Bring On and Retain Skilled Workers

It’s important to find highly skilled labor, whether full-time or external, that matches the organization’s needs. Once found, however, the next challenge becomes creating opportunities that can convert high-performing contingent hires into full-time employees.

The benefits for the organization are clear. First, hiring from within saves the company the time and expense that would be tied up in an external recruitment process. It’s also a good way for the worker to have a very in-depth sense of the organization before being hired officially. There is also a great benefit for prospects to apply for contingent roles if they aren’t initially hired for full-time positions. This provides the individual with the opportunity to work within the desired organization.

The external workforce is growing at a rapid pace, partly due to the fact that today’s workers often prefer to set their own hours and schedules and work on a variety of projects. When both the worker and the organization have found a good fit, it creates a mutually beneficial partnership for both parties. It’s just as important for the worker to find an organization that encompasses all of their values as it is for the company to find the right worker for its business needs.

SkyToday’s talent landscape is evolving. In order for companies to get the most out of their global workforces, it’s vital for human resources and procurement to work together in consistent ways. When these teams collaborate, they are able to determine the appropriate mix of skills and labor types to meet the company’s needs, as well as better predict future workforce needs.

And while all of this is happening, technology is playing an undeniably big role. Today’s organizations have the opportunity to align their efforts and create serious benefits for the company and the worker alike.

Read more in Personnel Management

Jim Brozny is the senior director of customer operations at SAP Fieldglass. SAP Fieldglass is the industry-leading vendor management system that helps companies manage their flexible workforces. Prior to his current role, Jim oversaw the account services customer support functions at SAP Fieldglass, including the help desk, command center, operations consultants, and account management teams. When he's not working, Jim coaches his son's little league teams and continues to search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie.