It is predicted that the flex pool in the USA will develop to 40% in a few years. The last 20 years has led to a seismic shift in the labor market to workers and employers alike. Since 1996 the amount of self-employed professionals doubled from 400.000 to 800.000. During the crisis (or because of the crisis?) the share of self-employed professionals has grown with a small percentage of 3% (according to the CBS), while the workforce at large, meaning employers and self-employed, shrinks. It seems that a corresponding trend is that many organizations start to prefer to work with a flexible layer, being one of the many names used. In the end of the 90’s the percentage of externals of the total amount of employers was standing around 5 to 10%, and for many organizations in 2014 this was improved to 20%.
Outstanding external professionals who have organizational knowledge are forgotten after their deployment. The HR-strategy and policy, the processes, systems and HR-departments of many organizations focus primarily on the internal employers. The HR-cycle isn’t designed for a quickly changing group of professionals, and the same goes for getting access to systems. Because of this, the group of professionals are rarely influenced by the HR during their deployment in the organization. Externals are most of the time out of the picture of the HR department. And they are – in my opinion unfairly – not part of the strategic workforce. Externals are rarely assessed or recorded in to the HR systems. This allows that some lower quality talents can move themselves from department to department without them being assessed. Also, operational issues aren’t well-organized. Time, and thus valuable Euro’s, are wasted, because access to the system takes too much time, or accounts are approved too late, or there is no email access, etc. As workaround they will work with private emails, accounts of internal employers and other creative solutions, with the ensuing security risks. It is time for change!
What is needed for HR to get in to the driving seat?
Usually HR passively watches from the sidelines when it comes to external, while they are closely involved in the selection and development of their own employers. With a growing strategic importance of the external professionals, is this the moment for HR to get involved. They shouldn’t only select the externals on price, but they should also demand the same from them as they do from their own employers and assess their performance in a similar manner. A separation of the internal and external employers in the systems can be good, but don’t lose focus on the externals. Even after deployment.
From a business value perspective, the Boston Consulting Group has found in their ‘People Advantage 2012’ report a few interesting correlations in statistical material on 22 HR topics. The research was done for permanent employees, but it is directly applicable on the whole workforce, externals included. The research shows that the recruitment of the right professional resulted in a profit 3,5 times more for the best-performing organization than the recruitment on the worst-performing organization, by a factor of 2 on profit. Similar results are shown in onboarding and retention, management of talent and employer branding.
With these results it is necessary to not only follow valuable externals, but also to avoid that professionals who don’t fit with the organization come back. You can involve talent with your organization with events, news and of course new assignments. With this the performance of recruiting externals is improved, the onboarding will run much faster and you keep talent connected to your organization. One way of doing this is connecting the professionals in communities.
What are communities?
Change in the, often complicated, existing processes and systems is a long and costly process, while the quantity of externals has increased substantially. It is essential to act quickly. The solution is in choosing for a HR-strategy where externals are accounted for the long term. For a short term, one can choose for a community-model, where the current and former external employees are added to a community, thereby creating insight and oversight in the external population in just one place. By assessing (past) external professionals subsequently and preselection (for the future), one can start a good organized flex pool of high quality. The management of the community is carried out by the community manager, who is responsible for the quality, the bond and planning of the employees in the community. The community manager ensures a decent intake, making the flex pool pre-selected and of a high level. Because of this a big group of professionals will be available when the organizations needs them. By establishing a long-term relationship with these professionals, they will stay involved with the organization, reduces the search process and onboarding time, because that has already been done in the preliminary phase, thereby saving valuable time and money. The agility of the organization and the quality of the contingent workforce will increase.