Contingent Workforce Conference #CWF2016 – Insights and Lessons

The Contingent Workforce Conference – “The Rise of the Gig Workforce” #CWF2016 provided excellent insights into the rapidly changing world of work, with the growth and acceptance of contingent work becoming more mainstream.

In ManpowerGroup Solution’s 2015 Contingent Workforce Index, Australia ranked 11th globally, with New Zealand topping the list. While the contingent workforce is not new, this ranking suggests Australia has potential for improvement on this measure.

As the nature of work changes, and with disruption becoming more prevalent across all industries, organisations will need to become more agile in meeting the demands of their customers. As organisations strive to create a flexible and agile workforce, the need for contingent workers will rise, not diminish.

The need for Contingent Workers is set to rise as the nature of work continues to change says… Click To Tweet

The question is how do organisations improve their understanding and use of the contingent workforce? My insights and lessons from #CWF2016 are:

Definition of Contingent – Varies between Organisationsdsc06011

No universally accepted definition exists for the contingent worker, and certainly not in legislation. Defining the contingent worker will vary between organisations, and will depend on the level of use and maturity with the contingent workforce.

Framework to Determine Contingent Roles

Having defined what a contingent worker is (and is not), a framework is necessary to determine the suitability of roles for contingent work. The approach is likely to involve multiple criteria, which leads to a more dynamic classification as opposed to a binary outcome. Three groups may emerge – should be an employee, should be contingent, and could be either depending on risk tolerance. In the future, no absolutes exist.

Process for Building Your Contingent Workforce

Developing a more comprehensive approach to your contingent workforce solution is logical and should not be overcomplicated. The approach includes:

  • Baseline current contingent workforce – what is your current state
  • Create the business case for change – improved productivity, lower costs
  • Gather and define requirements including building internal support and understanding solutions available in the temporary labour market
  • Solution choice and vendor selection
  • Implementation

Developing a compelling business case is the foundation of adopting a better contingent workforce solution. Workforce data on both core and contingent workforces within the organisation is needed to evaluate the costs and benefits of an alternate solution.

Data builds Evidence, Leads to better Decisions

Where immature contingent models exist, contingent workforce data is likely to be limited. Sophistication with data, analytics and KPIs can be developed, as the contingent workforce solution matures.

One advantage of vendor supported solutions is that it improves access to data about the contingent workforce. Data will lead to better resourcing decisions from operational matters such as overtime approval versus adding more resources to strategic issues on pivotal or priority roles.

Developing a compelling business case is the foundation of a better contingent workforce solution. Click To Tweet
Disruption and Complexity, Challenges Policy Makers and Regulators

Disruption occurs regularly and is challenging traditional markets. Think Uber and Airbnb. Employment policy and law has not kept pace with the changes in how people want to work. Policy makers need to be more responsive to these demands.

What of the Future?

It will be different. The future of work will challenge traditional paradigms about how work is done and how people engage in work. Creative and non-routine roles are areas where people will thrive.

dsc05578Work will continue to remain a social activity, where people come together to add value and to share knowledge, experience and stories. Communication, self-learning and teamwork will continue to be an essential element of work.

As population growth stalls, and the proportion in today’s working age starts to shrink. Increasing participation levels and encouraging older workers to stay productive for longer becomes important. Contingent work may provide the pathway for them. Contingent work could improve diversity outcomes.

Contingent work will continue to rise. Highly skilled professionals will continue to build their personal brand and will have less need to be part of an organisation – the rise of the specialist. Lower skilled people will access independent work to build their skills and earning capacity. Embracing contingent work will allow organisations access to the labour they need.

The “Gig Workforce” is an apt description. Everyone may be looking for their next gig, but not everyone can be a rock-star. Some people will play the big venues and have choice about where and how often they play. Others will play often on a series of small gigs as they perfect their craft. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

*****

Thanks to Trevor Vas, Kevin Wheeler, Jo Vohland and the rest of ATC Team for #CWF2016 – it was an enlightening experience, and shines a light on this important topic.

While I am an EY employee, these views and comments are my own.

Cover Image: Shutterstock

This article first appeared on LinkedIn on September 29th, 2016.

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