Today’s dynamic, flexible workforce is proving a double-edged sword. Yes, it has opened up access to talent like never before. Skills are now available on demand. But the shift from salaried employees to a mix of staffers, freelancers and contract workers has also thrown up issues for both HR and L&D.
What the research tells us
Among all the eye-catching statistics in Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, this one stands out the most:
Only 42% of the 11,000 survey respondents reported that their organisations are staffed primarily by salaried employees.
This figure is predicted to drop even lower in the coming years, as businesses respond to the need to do things better and faster, by utilising all the skills available to them.
So, who are businesses turning to? According to the survey, 50% of respondents are using a significant number of contractors in their workforce, 23% a significant number of freelancers, and 13% a significant number of gig workers.
Other statistics which reflect this growing trend are:
- In the US, over 40% of the workforce are not full-time employees – a figure that has increased by over a third in the past five years
- There are more than 77 million freelancers in Europe, India and the US
However, the Deloitte survey suggests that while companies anticipate increasing their use of non-staffers between now and 2020, only 16% reported having a management plan for them.
The learning disparity
What does all this mean for L&D, and indeed for their wider organisation? If these figures are representative, the most obvious repercussion is that a big percentage of many workforces won’t be part of any training and development programme. This isn’t just a learning issue, it’s also a motivation and engagement issue for the wider company.
The report’s section on The Workforce Ecosystem reveals that 46% of HR staff aren’t involved in onboarding these so-called ‘alternative’ workers and 55% don’t support training for them. It concludes that…
“Most employers are currently treating alternative workers as unskilled labour, not as professionals.”
The report recommends a 4-point strategy for managing these workers:
- Extend talent management across the entire workforce
- Involve HR in the hiring of alternative workers so they have the same assessments as employees
- Provide onboarding and development opportunities for everyone
- Consider an incentive programme that provides additional ways of earning money or opportunities to develop skills
The report highlights another shortcoming – evaluation. Only 29% of companies surveyed track alternative workers’ compliance with their contract, and just 32% track the quality of their work. This raises compliance concerns around security and reputation.
How L&D can make an impact
The question L&D face is: how do we develop an integrated workforce strategy when the workforce is so disparate? The good news is that digital workplace learning has been keeping pace with the changes. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Untap the wider potential of the LMS so it reaches beyond the enterprise – Adapt the existing LMS so that learning reaches all workers.
Microlearning for all – Adaptable, continuous learning focused 100% on business results and learning needs, delivered on a device of choice for just a few minutes each day.
Custom-made to integrate – Dynamic digital learning that is tailored to meet the specific and changing demands of a diverse and fluid workforce.
The new workforce ecosystem is a fabulous opportunity for employers to take advantage of having the best skills on tap for the most agile workers. But for this story to have a happy ending, employers need to ensure equity of training, development, engagement and measurement across the business.