HELP! How do I Align the Contingent Workforce with Corporate Goals?

It’s an interesting question: How do I align the contingent workforce with corporate goals?And it isn’t as simple as it might seem. In fact, there’s a fundamental problem with the premise: you see, in order to successfully bring your contingent workforce strategy in coalition with business goals, you need to approach your entire talent population. Not just your contingent workers.

In our experience, if you have one strategy for your permanent staff and a separate strategy for your contingent workers, attaining a strong, close alignment to corporate goals is made unnecessarily difficult.

A good analogy is this: it would be like attempting to write a book with two individual, not-altogether cohesive editors. It ain’t gonna work. Or at least, not very well.

Instead – and I’m mindful that some of you won’t be ready to hear this, but stay with me – start to think about blending your talent plan, as a singular, cohesive strategy. One that is developed with specific, business goals in mind, based on your organisation’s current state. And one that can accommodate the future-state ambitions of your organisation.

Keep this in mind also: as talent ecosystems continue to evolve, and technology supporting talent strategy maintains momentum, organisations are starting to shift from traditional models of a divided talent management approach. Specifically, where Procurement’s focus rests upon contingent talent, and HR on permanent.

So by starting this to make shift, you’re in good company.

The Blended Workforce Strategy:

The first logical step to take is to implement what is increasingly referred to as a ‘blended workforce’ strategy.

This means you approach the strategy, management and allocation of workers, as a single, unified entity. No delineation between the two broad categories of permanent and contingent workers. How you engage, manage and apply this blend of workers to your business strategy, is driven as a single undertaking.

It’s a potent means for optimising the absolute best from your talent population.

With an increased incidence of blended workforces today, where contingent and permanent workers are strategically managed as a combined entity, the scene is set for a more seamless alignment of workforce strategy with corporate goals.

Let’s Get Specific: The Ultimate Benefits of a Blended Workforce

Yes, at a high level, you’re going to be better placed to achieve your business goals when you’re armed with a closely affiliated talent strategy. But there’s more. Let’s take a look at some of the other outcomes of undertaking a blended workforce strategy, in support of achieving your business goals:

One, Integrated Workforce Map:

As organisations look to ‘how’ they’re going to achieve corporate goals, a strategic growth plan is becoming a fundamental.

Instead of hiring full-time employees – i.e. staying on the traditional road of acquiring permanent talent – they’re exploring the many options associated with combining on-demand and gig economy workers with permanent talent.

For example, career contractors, especially those with highly sought-after or rare skills, come at a price. But if the business can bring them in for a finite period, to work alongside permanent talent, and deploy the expertise of both groups, they’re on track to achieve business goals.

This will be especially so, when that talent has been strategically sourced and placed (see next point), according to the organisation’s current and future-state needs.

HR and Procurement Collaborate:

The historical responsibility where HR is accountable for permanent workers and Procurement for contingent workers is slowly coming to an end. To achieve this, structural shifts are needed in the organisation. A strong starting point is when procurement functions at a departmental level can be converged across the business, into a strategic sourcing function.

Simultaneously, if HR can draw data on the three primary role types – strategic, core and support – and utilise this data to support the people requirements of procurement’s strategy, you’ve got cross-functional cohesion.

Ultimately, what you’re seeing here is a strategic sourcing capability, backed by a deliberate workforce map, with people allocations based on role type and function. And that’s irrespective of whether the talent is permanent or contingent.

In this scenario, there’s a clear difference between hiring talent and optimising your workforce. The former is often reactionary to attrition. The latter is a strategic planning asset for achieving your business goals.

You Can Access Really Specialised Skills:

As you establish your blended workforce strategy, with a vision of supporting corporate goals, you’re going to come across the need for specialist skills from time to time.

These specialist skills are typically required for short-term projects, or to get components of large-scale projects over the line.

The great thing about a blended workforce management approach is its ability to help you recognise any skills and knowledge gaps that might hinder the achievement of corporate goals. And to bring those skills into the business, in a way that supports and complements the workings of your permanent talent.

With a forward-thinking talent plan in place, backed by HR data and analytics, you’ll be able to predict the most sought-after skills of your business. It also means you’re not reacting to business circumstances by ‘panic hiring’, a situation that arises for example, when growth is experienced but isn’t planned for from a talent standpoint.

Your Workforce Becomes Scalable:

When your workforce strategy is blended, you’re able to scale up and down according to the progression of achieving your business goals.

There are major efficiency gains to be made in this scenario.

You can bring in talent, as your growth trajectory demands, or hold off on hiring. You can limit the expansion of physical premises based on the nature of the upscaled workforce (for example, remote workers).

The major benefit here is that the blended workforce model provides for agility, responsiveness and the capacity to introduce the right talent for your business, at the right time. A great conduit to achieving your business goals.

As you can see, the blended workforce is nothing new. But as integrated staffing solutions continue to advance, it’s becoming a huge asset for organisations who seek to strategically align all categories of workers, with organisational goals.

What’s your organisation’s approach to contingent workforce management? Have you shifted to a blended solution? If you’d like to discuss your organisation’s approach to workforce management you can reach me here.