Optimizing Your Blended Workforce

Authored by Sharlyn Lauby, Founder of HRBartender

There’s a discussion happening in the talent space right now about who owns the overall strategy for talent. Of course, we’re not talking about the talent strategy for hiring full-time employees but more about the strategy for a blended workforce.

I’m defining the blended workforce as the regular full-time and part-time staff plus contingent and/or freelance workers. While it might seem obvious that any kind of talent strategy belongs in human resources, in some organizations, contingent workers are managed by the purchasing function.

And we all know why…because hiring a freelancer/contractor/consultant is a cost decision not a skills decision.

That thinking is starting to change.

As we experience more recruiting challenges related to the skills gap, the decision about engaging a contingent worker will be based on skills. It will be about having someone available at the right moment with the exact skills or experience the organization needs.

Contingent workers will continue to be utilized in a traditional sense as an extra set of hands to help with a project. Or to fill-in for an employee’s extended leave of absence. However, using a blended workforce strategy, contingent workers can serve a greater role when openings occur. Because they are familiar with the organization and the work, they can assume roles or maybe manage a key project when a position opening exists.

If the company’s talent strategy is divided among several departments, coordination between full-time opportunities and contingent work becomes a challenge. The company just isn’t taking advantage of all the talent it has available to them.

Adapting to Evolving Workforce Trends

To accommodate this change in thinking, the company’s talent strategy will need to be under one roof. And it will take a comprehensive approach. The answer to every work productivity challenge won’t be to hire a full-time equivalent. Human resources will work with the business to design work that not only allows the company to reach their goals, but creates jobs that make the most sense for both people and the business.

The sourcing strategy for a blended workforce will need to be agile, not just in terms of reacting quickly but also building strategic partnerships with a variety of solution providers to achieve the company’s staffing goals.

Whether it’s full-time or freelancer, top talent has options and organizations will need to tighten their acquisition process to get the best. In addition, companies will want to build a network of resources (i.e. external recruiters, staffing organizations, etc.) that can keep the company’s talent needs top of mind.

Technology plays a key role in managing the process. Smart companies are finding ways to integrate their regular and contingent workforces to bridge the skills gap. Their new blended workforce is changing the way they think about succession planning, collaborative learning, and career development.

CTA banner on automating and streamlining vendor management

Today’s recruiters are accountable for finding talent with the competencies to deliver the organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Adopting a blended workforce talent strategy opens a whole new world of possibilities for organizations and allows them to optimize their talent pool.

Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR, CPLP is the HR Bartender, whose blog is a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When she’s not tending bar, Sharlyn is president of ITM Group, Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. Her off-hours are spent searching for the best cheeseburger on the planet, fabulous wines that cost less than $10/bottle and unusual iPad apps.