5 ways to adapt your HR processes to the growing agile workforce

  • career advice
  • July 11, 2017

The days when human resources professionals managed a workforce primarily comprised of people who held the same job for years - or even decades - is long gone. Nowadays, your workforce has an increasing percentage of “agile workers” – anyone who works in a temporary, contract, consultant or freelance capacity. A recently-released Workplace 2025 report by Randstad predicts that by 2019, as much as half the workforce will be agile employees. This means HR professionals will need to understand how to enhance workers’ performance across a broad spectrum of employment arrangements.

Managing a worker who isn’t a full-time employee requires some rethinking of typical HR processes. But it’s worth investing effort into the practice. While you might think that agile workers are looking for full-time staff jobs, that’s often not the case. Most intend to stick with the arrangement and are also deeply invested in their career growth. In the Workplace 2025 report, over half those surveyed said that being an agile worker gives them more control over their careers, and over three-quarters say they are just as committed to their employers as they were when they held permanent positions.

Here are five ways HR pros can help maximize the output of the agile employee.

1. set expectations.

Are agile workers viewed as outsiders, or integral to your organization? Depending on your company culture, you may need to educate managers about the advantages of working with agile employees. Arrange individual meetings with supervisors at your organization to discuss which projects in their groups could be handled by external workers. Then, help them create a plan to integrate those workers into their existing teams.

2. insist on compliance.

Federal regulations surrounding payroll and taxation for contract and other temporary workers change frequently. Today, companies are more frequently scrutinized to ensure they’re remaining compliant. Managers should understand what is legally required for various types of work arrangements, and insist that all paperwork be completed prior to an employee's first day on the job.

3. abbreviate training procedures.

It might seem like a waste of time to put an agile worker through a formal training process. However, short-term employees will perform more efficiently if they are familiarized with an organization’s systems and culture. Develop a streamlined onboarding suited to temporary and contract employees. In addition, ask managers to schedule regular department-wide meetings to help agile workers quickly develop internal networks and create strong working relationships with other team members.

4. adjust performance metrics.

Agile workers are generally left out of company-wide annual reviews. However, short-term employees also need clearly-defined and well-communicated performance expectations. Decide ahead of time what metrics will be used to assess the agile workers’ performance, and in what manner feedback will be provided. Whenever possible, align the metrics to those of permanent employees to provide consistency throughout the organization.

5. build proper tools.

Utilize innovative and emerging HR technologies to more easily onboard and monitor the performance of agile workers. While this may require making some up-front investments, you’ll reap significant returns through higher performance, as well as helping managers address talent issues more efficiently and effectively.

By developing a game plan for managing both internal and external employees, HR hiring managers can improve workforce performance and drive better outcomes across their entire organization.

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