The changing workforce

A new kind of team

The workforce has never been as varied as it is today, with full-time and part-time employees, and contingent, freelance, gig, and crowdsourced workers all working in a variety of settings. These new workers are quickly changing the shape of the workplace and teaming with their colleagues to do “great things.”

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.

– Steve Jobs

The new workforce ecosystem

Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report found that only 42 percent of respondents’ organizations are primarily made up of salaried employees. In addition, the majority anticipate their reliance on alternative workers (contract, freelance, and gig) to increase in the coming years.

This new workforce ecosystem has many benefits—for employees and employers alike—but it also brings challenges. So how can organizations ensure that their distinct “team of workers” is productive, engaged, and working together for the benefit of the company?

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The new team members

Just a few years ago, the perception of contingent workers was that they may have been forced into short-term gigs in response to a crisis or economic downturn. But that’s no longer the case. Today, in this on-demand economy, many workers are opting for nontraditional work for a variety of reasons—flexibility, opportunities for varied projects, even higher wages. Meanwhile, advances in technology have made it all the more possible.

Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey found that millennials believe a flexible workplace culture support greater productivity and employee engagement while enhancing personal well-being, health, and happiness. But millennials are not the only employees with high expectations for their places of work. Competition for skilled resources is high, which gives the advantage to the players: they have leverage to negotiate perks that matter to them, such as alternative work arrangements and flexibility.

This changing workforce benefits employers as well. As disruptions occur and types of work change, employers have options. Organizations can leverage alternative roles to tap into new markets, meet seasonal demands, discover new expertise and talent, and, of course, save resources. There is no secret sauce for the perfect team, but that is the beauty of today’s workforce model: staffing is customizable—bespoke for each organization.

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Playing to the team’s strengths

For workers, a flexible workplace culture is not simply nice to have. They are linked to improved performance, employee retention, and higher levels of loyalty. In fact, Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey found that, among respondents who intend to stay with their current employers for at least five years, 55 percent say there is more flexibility in where and when they work compared to three years ago. Among those looking to leave within the next two years, the figure is just 35 percent.

Organizations that do not make efforts to attract and engage the changing workforce may risk losing their workers and, in the process, opportunities for growth. Seasonal workers may flee to competitors because of poor processes, and contractors may feel disconnected from the organization, prohibiting them from making positive contributions. Remote workers may not be motivated if they don’t feel a strong sense of connection and community. On the flip side, those organizations that adapt to meet the needs of the new workforce will likely reap rewards.

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employees working together

Digital teaming

Human resource (HR) leaders are beginning to understand that workers have very distinct needs, and as such, they need to create a better employee experience.

Digital platforms can make a difference—better managing and engaging a diverse population of workers in a way that is rewarding as well as value-additive to employers.

Among the potential benefits of a digital platform:

  • Agility: Digital platforms offer flexibility to employees and their employers. Today’s employees—all kinds—expect the same conveniences they’ve come to enjoy in their personal lives, and digital enables that. At the touch of a button, employees can access HR information and resources, 24/7.
  • Onboarding: All employees—including nontraditional workers—need to be provided a positive onboarding experience. Digitizing the process can make it simple for everyone, automating much of the process. Employees can easily ask questions in preparation for their new position. This helps allow for an effective first day in their new role, during which the new employee can add immediate value.
  • Communications: The workforce can be segmented in a variety of ways—by department and geography, and also by employee type, for example—and set up to receive personalized communications that apply and appeal directly to them.
  • Personalization: A digital platform can foster user-centric design, which enables organizations to deliver content and information that is relevant to all employee types.
  • Training: Many of today’s alternative workers are highly skilled professionals who need access to development opportunities; still others need access to basic training to fulfill their role responsibilities. Digital platforms can enable workers to simply access online courses.

The composition of today’s changing workforce will only continue to evolve. Successful organizations will likely be those that continuously improve the way they team with workers of all kinds.

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