Adopting an Agile Workforce: With Contractors And More

Adopting an agile workforce is increasingly popular with Australian organisations right now. And the appetite for change and agility has increased.

Perhaps this is the outcome of the tenuous economic conditions of late.

Perhaps it’s bigger than that.

With companies having increasingly shifted to a total workforce management strategy – whereby both employees and contract workers are engaged and managed as a strategic ‘whole’ – it makes sense that the undertaking of agile working strategies is on the rise.

But what is an agile workforce? And what about contractors? How do they fit?

That’s what we’re uncovering today: how you can adopt an agile workforce across all categories of workers in your business. Let’s get into it!

what is an agile workforce?

What is an Agile Workforce?

Adopting an agile workforce means taking a collaborative approach to managing work. It calls for teams to be able to shift their approach should things change. It requires consistent, open communications between team members and regular, constructive feedback.

An agile workforce is heavily reliant on team cohesion and collaboration. There’s little room for interpersonal tension or angst.

The purpose of an agile workforce is to help the business improve operations. Outcomes sought are typically improvements in the delivery of products or services to customers, better customer experiences and a reduction in time for products or services to be developed and deployed.

There are several characteristics of an agile workforce. These include:

  • Having the flexibility to respond to changes quickly. These changes might be internal – a new process, changed IT capability, or a new strategic direction, for example. Or they might be external – a change in the cost of goods, a macroeconomic impact, or a shift in customer demand, for example
  • The collective ability of a team to quickly shift, to meet demand. This shift might be upskilling, reskilling or reallocating internal resources
  • There’s a high degree of visibility of the performance metrics of a team
  • There’s always a sound understanding of the available skills across the team
  • Teams are typically faster and more flexible than their non-agile counterparts. This means companies can better adapt to the changes in their internal and external environments

Uncertainty is the new normal

The events of recent years have demonstrated the need for resilience, not only in supply chains, but also in business operations. War, pandemic or political unrest can quickly disrupt your operations and jeopardise your business. Stability is not guaranteed, and the business world needs to be prepared at all times.


Major Considerations of Establishing an Agile Workforce

The broad outcome of adopting an agile workforce strategy is the seamless integration of people and processes, which results in improved productivity (and the many benefits this bestows on all parties, especially customers).

The main factors to consider when you’re aiming to achieve workforce agility include:

🧑🏽‍💼 Leveraging Contract Workers:

The nature of having contingent workers in your business, calls for a level of inherent flexibility. And this fact can be leveraged to achieve a successful agile workforce. Appointing specialist talent for short-term engagements will play well into an agile workforce, especially for project activity. High-end contract workers will enhance the quality of output, productivity and project deliverables.

👭 Establish a Directly Sourced Talent Pipeline:

Waiting for recruitment firms to source the right talent for your business can severely compromise workforce agility. Instead, be prepared to establish a direct sourcing infrastructure, across your organisation’s internal and external networks. This way, you can engage employees or contract workers quickly, efficiently and in sync with your operational rhythm.

🎯 Streamline Your Daily Processes and Procedures:

The main goal here is to ensure your business stays compliant. You’ll keep on top of spend, headcount, performance and worker compliance by standardising daily processes, including sourcing practices and hiring procedures. With operations moving at a high-output pace, it’s easy to lose track of spend if the focus is always on the ‘how’ and the output. With a combination of worker types in your teams, standardising your talent management processes will keep a lid on costs and help to enhance project profitability.

😇 Prioritise Talent Retention:

If your workers become disengaged, turnover will rise, your projects will stall, productivity will decline, and the cost of hiring will hit your bottom line: all factors that are counter to an agile workforce. So, no matter what classification of worker you have on your team, keeping things truly agile requires your people to be engaged and invested in the work. Get workers involved in the interesting parts of the project/s, afford them the opportunity for career advancement, and nurture a positive company culture so all categories of workers will stick around.

‍💻 Collect the Data and Establish Metrics:

Workforce agility demands responsiveness. And responsiveness demands understanding. In an agile workforce, this understanding is most effectively achieved via quality feedback data from your technology stack. Integrating technology into the organisation’s infrastructure and daily business practices will give your leaders helpful insights into key performance metrics and output. Centrally accessible information can give project leaders a quick snapshot of project status and help managers make quick, well-informed decisions. Access to quality data is key to successful workforce agility.

workforce agility

Major Benefits of an Agile Workforce

Given the uncertainty of today’s business environment, an agile workforce could be your key to success and longevity. The main benefits include:

  • An agile workforce is proven to be more efficient and responsive than traditionally structured teams
  • Agile teams can respond quickly and effectively to the changing business environment
  • Agile teams can innovate quickly and with greater success, than traditional teams
  • An agile workforce is less likely to burnout. They feel appropriately engaged as a critical business resource and are not stuck on consistently repetitive or mundane tasks
  • Your investment in talent typically offers a higher return as workers tend to be happier and therefore more productive (a report by HR Magazine in the US reported a 20% increase in productivity for businesses that introduced agile workforce strategies)
  • An agile workplace offers workers greater flexibility. This fact helps to attract workers who are increasingly seeking flexible or hybrid working arrangements, post COVID
  • An agile workforce typically fosters a culture of dedication and trust. The need to deeply collaborate and integrate with team members, calls for an ‘all in’ mentality. This mindset instils trust across teams as well as uncovering greater compatibilities between colleagues.

How and when you establish agile working in your business will be determined by current projects, live business strategies and your organisational structure. Every organisation that adopts agile work does so in its own way. And for every organisation that gets on board, the benefits differ. What is universal to agile working is the clear advantages it offers for your business, your workers and your customers. In today’s uncertain market, agile working should be a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’.


Also, please do contact us if you have any feedback or comments.

As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutionsCXC is well-positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy.

With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.

If you’re looking to adopt agile workforce strategies into your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.