So what are the benefits of flexible workforce?
I have extracted what I see as the key benefits from the plethora of articles available on the subject.
For the employer
- Potential cost savings from adopting a strategic approach
- Maximisation of the workforce to accommodate volume fluctuations, maintaining leaner head counts whilst accessing the right skills when needed such as project work, annual leave etc.
- A wider pool of talent, potentially locking this off from competitors
- Being seen as a progressive employer thereby attracting the best talent
- Reduced attrition of women
- Retention of the ”voluntary workforce”, keeping skilled and motivated employees
- Lower absenteeism
- Increasing skills and creativity of managers
- Improving customer service and retention through closer alignment with customer needs
- Cost avoidance of replacing employees
- Reduction of the cost of HR.
Historic research conducted by Right Management (Australasia) and which is most likely still relevant today found that 88 % of SME respondents thought employee law and legislation is far too complex and 63% thought pay and benefits legislation caused them difficulties. 72% felt they spent too much time on HR issues. I think this research would still be relevant today.
For the employee
- The opportunity to earn and not reliant on the Social Welfare system
- Better work/life balance
- Opportunity to re-position their career when required
- Increased tenure and loyalty
- The opportunity to learn new skills
- The potential to earn more
- Facilitates mobility
- Being able to remain in the workforce longer(ageism not a factor)
- Increased sense of control
For the economy
- Removal of excess supply and demand thereby improving productivity and competitiveness
- Improved labour mobility leading to less unemployment
- Stronger employment creation during economic recovery or upturn
- A more flexible response to external economic shock because wages and employment are more flexible
- Potential for the creation of a skills gap as a result of the lack of training for workers on short term contracts
- The long term effect of workers ability to regain employment if they lose their jobs and have not received further training
- Can lead to a feeling of insecurity for the workers
- A reduction in employee bargaining power in many jobs, particularly the less skilled roles.
- Risk of ‘slash and burn” during the Pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown as companies seek to cut their workforce aggressively during these tough times.
- Social implications such as work cultures and the effects on family life.
Evidence would suggest that the flexible workforce is here to stay and will transcend any legislative endeavours to control or restrict its growth. In his article “Flexible Workforce The 21st Century Solution” - By Mo Aiken’, Aiken says “ The flexible workforce allows businesses to pay for exactly what they get, while they eliminate all the confusion, non-productiveness, liability, legalities and extraordinary efforts that having employees entails from the 20th century laws, culture, society and technology had created.”
“These four forces have converged generating the emergence of a new paradigm. The paradigm entails the availability of the properly trained and skilled workforce for exactly the job to be done, and only being paid for exactly that work. This paradigm must succeed to remain competitive and sufficiently flexible and competitive in the truly world market.”... “The new paradigm points to labour specialisation, and only paying for “what you get”. In loose terms these are consultants. In more exact terms consistent with the paradigm it is “flexible labour”. You hire them to perform in their “sweet spot” and only this area“
The Recruitment and Workforce Management industry in New Zealand has suffered from being seen and treated as a commodity. This is a problem brought on itself through years of selling services on the basis of cost/price and not selling the benefits built on a positive business relationship. Businesses should look to form relationships with an Agency which acts as a true partner where together they can reduce costs through greater efficiency's and improvements in productivity not through price alone. An agency that will provide a cost effective solution to their workforce management challenges.
The cynic in me says there will always be customers who will only want to negotiate price and have no understanding of value but I also think that in the main these will be the retail customers who are solely interested in a cost saving or in a situation where they require urgent assistance or they are a business in financial trouble fighting for survival. As a Business or as an Agency, how do you want to be perceived?
For those businesses interested in retaining or attracting the best staff then I suggest value should be your focus and for that I would recommend working with an Agency committed to ethical behaviour. Agencies who belong to a Professional body such as the Recruitment, Consulting, and Staffing Association make that commitment. In addition I would look for an agency that has proven and audited processes. “Staffsure” Certification certifies that an agencies processes have undergone rigorous audit and are fully compliant with all legal and compliance laws and regulations.
I look forward to ERG Recruitment Group establishing long lasting relationships with progressive businesses that value their workers and understand the benefits of flexibility operated in an ethical way and not purely based on price. For this reason ERG Recruitment Group is a long term Corporate member of the Recruiting, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) and also Staffsure Certified.
Should you have any questions or feedback on these articles please do not hesitate to make contact with John Harland firstname.lastname@example.org