The extended workforce is on the rise, offering companies greater agility and access to top talent―two strong competitive differentiators. As I mentioned in my previous post, engaging an extended workforce has the potential to deliver considerable benefits to both businesses and employees. However, those benefits depend on successfully engaging with and managing this workforce, which falls in part on the shoulders of the HR function.

Managing the extended workforce

HR organisations will likely have to create or redefine roles and structures to accommodate the extended workforce. Because deploying today’s contingent workforce is a strategic rather than a tactical exercise, HR will also need to take a more strategic approach in acquiring and deploying this talent. Contingent workers may not technically be part of the regular workforce, but in many ways they will need to be managed as if they are.

Below are actions HR teams can take to help ensure positive results from this transformation:

  • Redefine your customers. With the extended workforce, HR professionals will now be addressing a much broader audience, but managing them similarly to regular employees. This requires a strategic (and seamless) plan for managing extended workers.
  • Create an integrated talent management system. Even though contingent workers are not part of the regular workforce, they need to be part of a unified strategy and set of processes and information systems. Data management technology will be very useful in this effort. This is especially important in terms of providing a window into all the talent that’s available to the organisation. Additionally, HR professionals will need to offer the full breadth of talent management practices to the extended workforce, including learning and development, onboarding and collaboration, performance feedback and rewards, and opportunities for advancement.
  • Develop cross-functional supportive structures. While HR may be at the helm, everyone in the organisation has a stake in supporting the extended workforce. Companies should tap expertise across functions to establish foundational support.
  • Use analytics to source and deploy talent. HR will increasingly be the “go to” resource for determining when to use which talent for which assignments. A strong analytics capability will increasingly become an HR core competency.
  • Deepen partnerships. As HR professionals become the talent experts, they will need to extend this expertise into the talent management practices of their outsourcing providers or consultants.
  • Segment the extended workforce. Much like diversity among the regular employee population, the extended workforce is a very diverse group as well―in some cases, even more so, given the opportunities for global sourcing. HR professionals will have to target people practices to a diverse set of needs.

Successfully engaging and managing an extended workforce clearly requires a transformation from business as usual. However, HR professionals who understand this requirement and rise to the challenge have the potential to help drive substantial rewards for their company and all of its employees, including the extended workforce.

To learn more about the extended workforce, please see:

The Rise of the Extended Workforce

Technology Vision 2016_People First: The Primacy of People in a Digital Age: Trend 2: Liquid Workforce

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