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Blended Workforces: Strategising Today for Tomorrow's Success

Posted By APSO, 17 June 2014
Updated: 19 May 2014

Blended Workforces: Strategising today for tomorrow’s success

In today’s uncertain economy, securing and retaining top talent is a complex undertaking. Given shifts in workforce demographics, the demand for innovation and global growth, organisations need to be able to paint a complete picture of current and future talent needs. They are adopting a single integrated framework for employee recruitment and contingent workforce supply chain management, yielding what is known as a “blended workforce” approach to talent strategy.

Historically, organisations have invested in various outsourcing providers including engaging Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) for full-time employees and Managed Services Providers (MSP) for contingent labour. Today, forward-thinking organisations are applying the blended workforce approach and leveraging a single provider for both traditional talent acquisition and the management of the contingent labour supply chain.

Shift to more flexible workforces

According to Aberdeen’s 2012 Contingent Workforce Management report, nearly 26% of the average organisations workforce is considered contingent or temporary, up from 23% in 2011. Clearly, the demand for a more flexible workforce is on the rise as both employers and employees recognise the numerous benefits, including greater diversity, improved productivity and reduce costs.

The contemporary business often relies on contractors, contingent workers and traditional full-time employees to complete its objectives and drive more revenue to the bottom-line. As these categories evolve and progress, so do the solutions and strategies required to manage overall talent in an effective manner.

Aberdeen’s 2012 Blended Workforce survey identified several key drivers in this shift to an integrated approach, including reducing costs, improving visibility to attract quality talent, and improved productivity.


 

While optimising costs and improving visibility into the talent supply are important drivers for success, identifying and acquiring top-level talent involves a series of processes that do not have cost or visibility top of mind. Instead, these processes are only concerned with the end result of overall organisational enhancement.

Under an integrated approach, these processes must be executed in such a way that pay rates, utilisation of internal resources, and cost of recruitment efforts do not shatter greater objectives. Organisations should optimise their spending on all talent initiatives and gain a better understanding of their entire talent pool as a means of improving overall workforce quality.

Three foundations for success – Collaboration, Strategy, and Technology

For organisations to get the most value from a blended workforce approach, they should consider end-to-end recruitment including everything from employer branding to sourcing, screening and assessment, and hiring.  Keys to success include:

  • Fostering collaboration between internal units. All key decision makers - HR, procurement and business - should be involved, sharing core objectives and ensuring continuous communication.
  • Defining a formal strategy. A comprehensive plan, documenting existing processes and future goals based on both the internal and external marketplace, enables organisations to design foundational practices in the context of long-term goals.
  • Invest in technology. Analytics and third-party technology solutions enhance the programme by assisting in measuring and monitoring success, including elements such as cost and visibility concerns outlined earlier.

Working together to achieve


Although options vary, nearly half of the organisations surveyed indicated that they managed the strategy under a single group. Although each unit has its own challenges and outcomes, if they work together success is more easily achieved.

Human Resources:  One of the key challenges is aligning talent initiatives with those of the business. By providing a complete view, through analytics, of both traditional and contingent workers, HR is more empowered to make business-centric decisions around talent. HR is in the unique position to be the champion of an integrated strategy, driving the process and articulating results.  This evolving role will require HR professionals to move outside their comfort zone and create, track and report on a more complete picture of talent.

Procurement:  This division was designed with one major goal in mind, produce cost savings and improve the organisation’s bottom-line. However, it is necessary for the procurement division to be more than a mere cost-cutter; they must find balance between cost and quality. Procurement’s strength in contract, and supplier lifecycle management, is critical considering the contemporary “contingent workforce umbrella” involves independent contracts, consultants, and professionals services and more often than not, these forms of talent are linked to Statements of Work. Procurement’s expertise in managing performance, based on milestones and delivery dates, is critical.

Business:  The primary goal of the business unit, in particular those on a C-level, is to achieve the organisation’s objectives at the lowest possible cost whilst maintaining a top-tier level of quality. Under the direction of business, HR and Procurement can better focus on the greater goals of driving talent costs down while improving overall quality and visibility.

The need for technology

A key to an optimum blended workforce strategy is the ability of functioning units to tap into intelligence from the same system. Leading providers are now offering integrated solutions for recruiting both contingent workers and traditional employees.

Technology-led intelligence is critical in:

·         Managing geographically diverse workforces and talent pools;

·         Assessing supplier and worker performance against milestones and delivery dates;

·         Tracking ongoing and forecasted trends within traditional and contract talent to garner valuable intelligence about suppliers, usage or effectiveness; and

·         Tracking improves overall budgeting and financial resource planning for future projects that will use contract/contingent talent

 

The survey revealed that more than half of the organisations surveyed do not currently realise the value of analytics in their blended workforce strategies.

 

There is a multitude of technology options available in the talent and workforce management space but the most commonly used is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The biggest challenge is that much of the technology available has only limited functionality to support contingent labour, necessitating an improvement in capability or at least integration with a Vendor Management System (VMS).

 


 

In conclusion, findings from the research shows that whilst the blended workforce approach is being adopted by a growing number of organisations, there is still much room for growth, and the time for implementing strategy is now.

 

Extracts from “Driving a Blended Workforce Strategy: A Total Talent Approach” published in January 2013. For more than two decades, Aberdeen’s research has been helping corporations worldwide become Best-In-Class. For more information on this or other research topics please visit www.aberdeen.com

Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  blended workforce  business  collaboration  contigent labor  employee  flexibility  HR  procurement  quality  reduce costs  strategy  talent acquisition  technology  vendor management systems  VMS  workforce 

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