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Blended Workforces: Strategising Today for Tomorrow's Success

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Updated: Monday, 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

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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Creative reward solutions required in tough times

Posted By Natalie Singer, Thursday, 06 June 2013
Updated: Thursday, 06 June 2013

The concept of incentives has been pretty simple over the years; a cash bonus or luxury holiday has often been the norm. But, in tough financial times, companies are also trying to balance their financial situation with the need to keep their employees motivated, especially if they’re expecting them to do more, for less.

Want employees want

In good times, employees would often look to their incentives to provide something exciting that would allow them to do something outside the norm, such as buy a new car or take an overseas trip. Today however, their immediate challenges relate to "making ends meet”.

Incentives by nature only work if the person who is being incentivised wants what you’re offering. So, it’s high time that companies research what the real pressure points are for their employees and devise creative incentives that will ease their real burdens. Some companies have been known to offer vouchers for their local grocery store, petrol for a month or time off to spend with family.

Determining what to offer

The simplest way to find out is to ask. Survey employees to learn what they would prefer and go from there. And don’t feel compelled to make the same offer to every employee. If you determine what the value of the incentive is, why not consider having a range of options available for employees to choose from? This way, you’ll be able to incentivise each employee in a way that speaks directly to their needs.

Do incentives work?

This is a difficult question to answer, and seems to depend on the reason for implementing an incentive scheme in the first place. According to employee and recruitment guru Bill Boorman, it has more to do with when you offer the incentive. He says that in cases where an incentive was provided upfront and employees were given a clear expectation of what was required to be achieved going forward, a 90% success rate was achieved, compared to just 20% for those that promised a reward after the fact. Bill’s conclusion; people are more likely to deliver when they feel they have to repay a reward.

Daniel Pink also cautions against using incentives randomly, and especially in roles or environments that require cognitive skill or creativity. His research shows that people will amend their behaviours over time, from enjoying the task and being proud of an ideal outcome, to only being motivated to reach the reward. Pink believes that incentives cannot achieve the true outcome desired by most companies, that is, to foster a more motivated workforce. Rather than simply dangling carrots, he believes companies should focus on encouraging and empowering their employees to find creative ways to do better business, to improve productivity and performance, and to reward this kind of creative thinking, rather than simply achieving a targeted outcome.

Pink believes that intrinsic factors exert the greatest influence on employee motivation, in particular, he identifies three: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Incentive success

Consider the following when creating your incentive programme:

  • Ensure that the desired outcome is within the individual employee’s control
  • Group bonuses can have a negative effect on performance if high achievers are denied their incentive despite their over-achievement, due to the poor performance of others. Equally if poor performers are rewarded due to their peers, this leads to feelings of unfairness and a likely drop in the overall performance of the team.
  • Establish specific accomplishments and clear criteria for achievement. Be sure that you clearly explain what the incentive will be rewarding, i.e. the exact results desired. It may appears to be a "gift” (something that happens regularly, irrespective of achievement) if linked to an unclear, non-specific target. Remember too that the criteria for being awarded the incentive should be clear to all and then fairly applied so that those who meet the agreed accomplishments are seen to be rewarded.
  • Keep rewards regular, rather than delayed for maximum impact. People respond best to rewards that immediately follow their achievement of the desired goal. This is especially true of Generation Y who are used to immediate gratification. Annual bonuses just seem too far into the future. Why not consider smaller, more regular incentives to keep momentum and achieve specific targets related to a project or desired outcome?Incentive programmes should be as unique as the company (or even department) that is offering them.

Don’t feel pressured to follow the age-old traditions, discuss the concept openly with your staff and then brainstorm with management how to achieve the desired output with maximum positive impact for employees and minimum financial burden for the company.

Tags:  Bill Boorman  creativity  Dan Pink  employee  incentives  remuneration  rewards  work-life balance 

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Choosing a TES provider

Posted By APSO, Thursday, 06 June 2013
Updated: Thursday, 06 June 2013

With the current uncertainty around the temporary employment services (TES) regulations, many companies are worried about engaging new TES suppliers or beginning new contracts. And because of the joint and several liability risks that already exist under current legislation, this is a critical decision that businesses should not make lightly.

So how do you know who to choose?

At present there are low or no barriers to entry and this means that companies may find themselves dealing with an operator that is inexperienced or incapable of delivering a compliant service. To mitigate risk, we recommend that companies choose only to deal with TES providers who belong to a recognised professional body, such as the Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations (APSO), where they are required to meet minimum compliance standards and subscribe to a code of ethics and best practice.

APSO membership hinges on compliance of the TES in terms of statutory regulations and meeting minimum operational standards to protect clients, work seekers and the image of the industry as a whole. For more specific detail on the exact compliance requirements, please visit

What questions should you ask?

Whether you choose to work with a company that belongs to a professional body or not, there are a few questions that you should ask every TES provider who you intend to work with including:

  1. Are they registered with the Department of Labour and in possession of a Private Employment Agencies (PEA) certificate?
  2. Are they registered, and in good standing, with SARS in terms of tax, VAT, PAYE, UIF, SDL and other employee deductions?
  3. If you work within a regulated sector, is the TES provider registered, and in good standing, with the applicable Bargaining Council and are their employee contracts and operations compliant with the collective agreements?
  4. Do they have sound internal policies and procedures to ensure fair labour relations practices and have they clearly explained the expectations of your role in the triangular employment relationship?
  5. Are there sufficient resources to ensure that TES employees are paid regularly, on the agreed dates, and that all associated employee administration is managed in accordance with legislation?

Choosing to work with an APSO member agency will provide you with comfort that the agency has undergone the compliance checks and is held accountable to the APSO Code of Ethical & Professional Practice. In the event of a dispute with the member agency, the company can lodge a complaint with APSO and have the matter resolved at no cost. For more information on the benefits of working with an APSO member agency, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 011 615 9417.

Tags:  APSO  compliance  Department of Labour  employee  fees  joint & several liability  preferred supplier listing  risk  SARS  statutory costs  temp  TES 

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