How the global workforce is changing, and what you need to do about it
We’ve all heard people say something like “the global workforce is changing”, right? But very rarely do they follow it up with a breakdown of how it is changing, and what we as people management professionals need to do about it. So here goes:
The workforce is breaking up and spreading out. As technology increasingly allows us to do what we do, wherever we happen to be, in most industries, we no longer need people to be chained to desks or factory floors. The ADP Evolution of Work report finds that 95% of respondents believe they will soon be able to work from anywhere in the world1. Government figures in the UK also show that of the 30.2 million people in work in January to March 2014 in the UK, 4.2 million were home workers, giving a home worker rate of 13.9% of those in work – the highest rate since records began2.
This workforce is also changing from a solid mass of full-time employees, to flexible models where workers come and go on short-term contracts. Deloitte believe that already more than a third (34%) of all workers in the United States are now contract workers, and more than half (51%) of all employers say their need for contingent workers will keep growing over the next three to five years. Similar trends are observed throughout Europe by The Federation of International Employers3.
It’s being called an “on-demand workforce” – a neat term which reflects how companies gain the ability to tap into extensive networks of experts and professionals.
What this means for HR professionals of course is increased complexity. With the rise of remote employees, HR professionals will need to work harder to ensure teams are truly connected. A workforce of 500 full-time employees for example could easily become 1,000-5,000 workers on differing temporary contracts. The ease of keeping an eye on their work, performance and development is made even harder if they work from home or remotely.
In reality, only companies with the right processes and technology can truly enjoy such agility. And let’s face it, most organisations are lumbered with ageing legacy systems which cause performance paralysis. If you feel guilty about still using Excel spreadsheets to try and keep on top of it all, then believe me – you are not alone. It’s more common than you think. But also – it is not enough. You cannot capture the complexity of today’s workforce on simple spreadsheets.
A single, comprehensive HCM system is needed to capture today’s world of work. Implementing a unified solution helps organisations cut labour costs, streamline compliance and empower workers to make better point-in-time decisions to support business goals. It’s a brave new world, and one that offers workers and employers much more scope for engagement, flexibility and innovation. Human resources can adopt a more ‘human’ approach to workforce management, empowering workers and managers alike. But get it wrong by going it alone, and the complexity becomes a web that’s difficult to escape from.
1 ADP Research Institute (2016), Evolution of Work
2 UK Office for National Statistics, Characteristics of Home Workers, 2014
3 European Human Resource Trends, FedEE Global
Written by: Connect@ADP team