As organizations re-imagine the concept of work post-pandemic, the fluid workforce breaks decades of tradition where organizations had come to rely on skilled professionals with tightly defined roles and skills. With the hybrid model of work fast becoming the norm in the digital economy, companies are sourcing skills from both within an organization and outside of it.
According to the Randstad future workforce report, by the year 2025, 69% of the workforce will consist of agile and non-traditional workers. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, about 70% of company executives expect the demand for individual, on-site freelancers, contractors, and temporary workers to increase over the next two years. This also includes a demand for IT contractors with specialist competencies.
More and more workers are ready to learn new skills to retrain to remain employable in the future. As multiple roles converge, employees are now moving beyond specialized job responsibilities. This is seen as a vital step to move towards the workforce of the future and stay flexible in the labor market- a departure from previous years.
To leverage and deploy the best talent, companies need to manage their workforce efficiently. The Deloitte 2019 Millennial Survey points to how most millennials wanted to leave their present companies, due to a lack of opportunities, to advance their skills. Lack of learning and development prospects alongside innovation remained the core issues that topped their concerns.
Creating Learning Frameworks in a Liquid Work Environment
Creating the right learning and development framework enables organizations to be future-ready. One needs to have a dynamic and informed approach to workforce training that allows workers to build their capabilities for the future and helps them navigate through an enterprise and ecosystem mindset.
The cornerstone of a fluid workforce lies in promoting skill-based learning programs that experiment with job roles, welcoming in an employee ecosystem that promotes teaming rather than siloed hierarchical job roles and titles. Workforce fluidity is also about valuing contributions and accessing new capabilities that foster cross-functional expertise.
The progression of job roles becomes less linear and more diverse without being watertight.
Benefits of a Fluid Workforce
A fluid work environment has varied benefits for organizations. The resource planners and executives can identify the future needs and implement solutions for the company to reach its strategic goals. Predicting labor movement and bringing in better on-boarding of talent remains another positive aspect.
Employee retention techniques also allow managers to harness and hone talents and optimize expenses, mitigating possible risks to business continuity in the end.
Fluid work environments enable the top management and the HR managers to establish a shared vision that helps align business policies with employee well-being. Technology solutions and automation address these shared needs to help organizations strengthen their culture and get valuable insights for further growth.
Workforce planning also enables companies to understand their labor costs and wisely allocate their investments based on insights of best-performing employees that deliver the highest ROI. Organizations can also make decisions about where the greatest investments in employee training and development by identifying areas the workforce needs most help with.
Challenges in Workforce Fluidity
With the pandemic necessitating the need to hire contract and flexi employees, more and more organizations are driving a resource strategy that saves costs and ensures higher productivity and output. Some organizations that are hiring permanent employees continue to re-onboard and re-skill with the evolving needs of the market.
A fluid workforce involves combining both these strategies that have far-reaching consequences for the human resource teams that have to change the HR policies, programs, and workforce automation solutions for the entire organization.
Human resource teams also have to consider ways of attracting talent in gig roles and also manage permanent staff. There are challenges of performance metrics and benefits for employees who aren’t full-time workers. There are many other issues that arise when organizations try to retain a flexible workforce.
One of these is the continuous onboarding of professionals to keep up with the demand because of a turnover. This has a knock-on effect on employee experience that varies significantly along with engagement and performance.
Learning and development is a critical part of attracting and retaining employees. It helps in fostering better performance among the workforce. One of the most difficult aspects that organizations face in the post-pandemic hybrid work environment is the way they measure performance and communicate goals to flexi-workers as opposed to permanent workers.
A lot of organizations do not have clear transparent processes that drive employee performance. As organizations transform their workflows, many face the serious concern of how their top brass change the mindset.
Most companies are used to specialized job responsibilities and the culture is more attuned to a permanent workforce without any fluidity of job roles. Breaking this mold is a long-drawn process that needs a tricky balancing act from top-level executives to junior-level employees.