Cartoon of man putting block in wall Most companies aren't using such workers strategically;instead, they're using them transactionally—just to “fill slots”and not to meet long-term needs with efficiency. (Photo:Shutterstock)

|

Well, it used to be regarded as alternative work—but now, as organizationstransform themselves, freelance, gig and contract work are nowmainstream.

|

But businesses will have to get better at managing the so-calledalternative workforce, according to Deloitte's 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report,particularly since the formerly mainstream workforce is underpressure globally from a short supply of workers, a lack ofqualified candidates, workers' desire to make more money from“side hustles,” lower birth rates that areshrinking the labor pool and the reentry of retirees into the labormarket.

|

According to the report, the alternative workforce is composedof a range of types: contractors who actually work for anothercompany and are brought in to meet specific needs,freelance/independent workers who don't necessarily want to have aregular boss, gig workers who take on projects or parts of projectsand crowd workers, who compete to become part of a project and maynot get paid if they're not among top performers.

|

Related: Gig workers' importance to grow over next 5years

|

But the need is surging, with 45 percent of employers globallysaying that they have trouble finding workers to fill positions;that's the highest it's been since 2006. But wait, it gets worse:according to the report, 67 percent of companies with more than 250workers are among those struggling to find the qualified workersthey need.

|

And it's not just IT in which alternative workers are used.While a third of respondents say they use alternative workersextensively in IT, 25 percent do so for operations, 15 percent formarketing and 15 percent for research and development. The workersthemselves come from both traditional staffing firms and talentnetworks that focus on particular segments of the population suchas active duty and veteran military, working parents andretirees.

|

However, the report also finds that most companies aren't usingsuch workers strategically; instead, they're using themtransactionally—just to “fill slots” and not to meet long-termneeds with efficiency.

|

Yet using alternative workers, it adds, “can enhanceorganizational performance” if managed efficiently and correctly.It says that a properly managed alternative workforce “enables anorganization to put the right talent in place where and when it'smost needed to get results, in a labor market where traditionallyon-balance-sheet talent is becoming ever harder to find.”

|

HR is beginning to respond accordingly, with 75 percent of thisrespondents indicating that HR supports sourcing alternativeworkers. Meanwhile, 66 percent report HR is involved in trainingthem, 65 percent say they negotiate work arrangements, and 63percent are involved in benefits management.

|

But there's also the need to treat such outsiders withsufficient respect that they feel a part of the team—while notalienating regular workers who may feel penalized by the attentionand resources devoted to those “outsiders.”

|

Read more: 

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.