Most of today’s work is accomplished through blended teams comprising traditional employees, contingent workers, freelancers and even bots. An estimated 22% of the total workforce is contingent, according to respondents to SIA’s recent buyer survey. Further, these respondents project the percentage of their workforce that is contingent to be even greater two years from now — and greater still 10 years from now, when it is expected to exceed a quarter of their organization’s workforce.
Top that with the increase in remote and hybrid work, and a worker’s employment status within an organization is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish. As a result, executive leadership teams are challenged to bridge the gap between traditional and contingent workers to foster a cohesive and productive workforce culture, critical to achieving organizational goals. This entails rethinking conventional and siloed workforce leadership strategies to attract and optimize talent investments and remain competitive in their market space.
Here are essential considerations when creating a leadership strategy for a blended workforce:
Eliminate co-employment ghosts. First and foremost, eliminate co-employment ghosts roaming the organization — those policies put in place to avoid the classification at all costs. In many cases, co-employment exists instantly by nature of the staffing firm/client relationship, and in fact, co-employment can offer organizations several benefits and protections. While policies such as implementing tenure restrictions and excluding contingent workers from company events, learning management system and training programs may seem reasonable for your organization, they have little to no significant effect in preventing co-employment classification. On the contrary, these policies may negatively impact contingent worker retention, satisfaction, team culture and financial risk mitigation benefits.
Champion shared goals. Champion universal organizational goals across all workforce categories. Ensure that every team member, regardless of their employment status, feels like an essential contributor to achieving the organization’s goals. When contingent workers understand the contribution and impact their roles have to the organization’s goals, they become more invested in producing high-quality work and feel more accountable for their assignments.
Embrace diversity and inclusion. The foundation of effective leadership in a blended workforce is a culture of diversity and inclusion. Recognize that your team comprises individuals with varying backgrounds, skill sets and employment statuses. To promote contingent worker retention, job satisfaction and redeployment levels, create an environment where every member feels valued and heard regardless of their employment type. Encourage open communication, actively seek diverse perspectives and invest in diversity and inclusion training for your management team.
Collaboration. Dissolve the “us versus them” mentality that often separates traditional and contingent workers. Instill in its place a culture of teamwork and collaboration to strengthen the commitment and performance of contingent workers. Position your contingent workers as valuable assets to the team’s success rather than threats to or “less-than” permanent team members. Leveraging the experience and knowledge of contingent workers through collaboration efforts can benefit the entire organization.
Common vision. Create a shared vision and a common cause that unites your entire workforce. When workers, regardless of their status, take pride in their association with the organization, it enhances their sense of belonging, commitment and overall performance. Aligning your contingent workforce with the organization’s vision and mission can significantly reduce the risk of non-accountability and disengagement.
Onboarding and training. Just as a positive onboarding experience is crucial for permanent employees, it also holds true for contingent workers. Their initial experiences shape their perception of the organization and impact their commitment and satisfaction levels. The same goes for ongoing development. Offering development and training opportunities can not only enhance contingent worker performance but also contribute to their retention.
As today’s corporate workforce continues to shift towards leveraging contingent arrangements, organizations continuing traditional transactional workforce leadership strategies will be at an extreme disadvantage. The quality, productivity, retention/attrition and job satisfaction of your contingent workforce population will be just as critical as those of a long-term permanent employee in reaching your organizational objectives.
Embracing a leadership strategy that integrates all workforce resource categories results in a more engaged, agile and productive blended workforce. Those who adapt strategic leadership strategies to embrace the contingent workforce as critical talent in their organization will be well positioned to thrive and sustain a competitive advantage in the future.
Co-employment is discussed in more detail in SIA’s Certified Contingent Workforce Professional Program. For more information, go here.