IS CORPORATE READY FOR A CONTINGENT WORKFORCE?

BASED ON A DISCUSSION IN LINKEDIN GROUP – WWW+W

The question posed by the LinkedIn coordinator, Chiara Bersano – Global HCM architect – Executive advisor  was:

Reading http://www.amazon.com/Losing-Our-Way-Intimate-Portrait/dp/038552823X – Chapter 3 is a portrait of “disposable employment”.  Is contingent employment both the problem and the solution – or rather the consequence and the solution? can we think about the requirements to cover achieve a more stable situation through a diversified approach to employment?

I thought the post deserves a little notoriety, because it hits at one of the growing trend in the workforce, contingent workers.

So here are my thoughts as shared in the post (and those of Andrew Karpie):

Andrew Karpie – Business/technology researcher-analyst/consultant, product/market manager/planner, writer/evangelist

Thank you for pointing this out–would like to read. I’m starting to realize that there are two (connected) trends and challenges happening at once: (1) Accelerating shifts in over all economy (globalization, automation, surges in critical knowledge workers (and obsolete education systems), growing populations for whom there is no work that earns a living, etc.), and (2) business trends toward ending employment covenant, using contingent work arrangements –along with platforms that now allow more contingent, dynamic, parsed-up work arrangements and direct access to global talent.

My reply:

Andrew, you are correct in the trend of employment contracts. Let me propose a future (how likely, I cannot predict) where employment is project based, compensation tied to successful completion (that means MEASUREMENT at the beginning), possibly even team based (teams that successfully perform may chose to hire out as a team) and that employers are faced with managing both “background administrative work load” and identifying value add work. HR is certainly going to be challenged to manage that shift, find programs that work for the workforce (highly individualized, I suspect) and that management will be held responsible for true organization performance as judged through business metrics. An interesting premise, but those positioned to take advantage of the flexible workforce (which is where I think we are headed, lots of contingent workforce roles – possibly even the CEO level) will be probably lead their markets in products to market and innovation.

Take a hint from the sports teams, they change around players to hit a winning season, but there are a lot of “free agents” filling in the holes in the team without the long term obligation.

Andrew’s response:

Nov, yep, agree –the trends are already clear and being realized. On average companies have workforce that is 25% contingent. That number has been growing and will grow. Shift from contingent workers as “staff augmentation” to “blended workforce” is happening. Organizational change challenges ahead–as you said: “HR is certainly going to be challenged to manage that shift, find programs that work for the workforce (highly individualized, I suspect) and that management will be held responsible for true organization performance as judged through business metrics.” This is huge!! All of this good, but to Chiara’s original point–How to make this all work for the workforce in a socio-economically sustainable way, not just for the companies? This is huge too.

My response:

So, I will add my other “two cents”, and that is legislation is totally out of synch with where the business world NEEDS to transform to. Regulations hamper the contingent worker and companies of moving towards these new paradigms. I think that structured workforces (like unions) are outmoded and that with reopening the workplace rules for REAL constructive frameworks that allow for competition, pay for true performance, and realize that the workforce is now a global entity, 24X7, the global economy will simply grow because individuals are now incented to work at the levels they feel is needed or themselves. Stop penalizing the competitive and innovative, it hinders growth.

With growing socialization, technology supporting remote, global workforces, companies can open up their “boundaries” and use the innovation around the world.

So, are we tracking to a BIG change or are we missing something?  And another component we have not addressed here – global legislation, does it support or hinder these efforts, leading to a more domestic view of the workforce.

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