Managing Flexible Workforce
Managing Flexible Workforce – Strategic HRM Considerations Felipe Caamano Keller School of Management Introduction Staffing is the process of acquiring, deploying, and retaining a workforce of sufficient quantity and quality to create positive impacts on the organization’s effectiveness and thus is a critical organizational function concerned with the acquisition, deployment, and retention of the organization’s workforce. The complexity of work and projects being done in organizations today are becoming overly complex both in terms of scope and reach.
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This spans over multiple geographies, time zones, cultures and teams. The work force today has now become diversified with employees coming from countries such as Argentina, China, South Africa and Philippines. Traditional models of communication and knowledge sharing don’t work in all these contexts and hence there is a dire need for alternatives if the organizations today are keen sustaining their growth and profitability. Organizations are increasingly looking at flexible workforces to deliver their services across geographies and cultures to suit their business needs and cost constraints.
However most organizations and human resource departments have limited experience in handling flexible workforces. Organizations have traditionally looked at flexible workforce as a contingency and not as a strategic tool. For most organizations a workforce is also an expensive proposition and cost of doing business. Since service- providing industries now dominate our economy, matters of employee cost and whether the organization is acquiring a high quality workforce loom large for many organizations.
A shift from viewing employees as just a cost of doing business to valuing employees as human capital that creates competitive advantage and having financial implication for the organization is gradually occurring. Organizations that can deliver superior customer service much of which is driven by highly knowledgeable employees with fine- tuned customer service skills, have a definite advantage over their competitors.
Without a competent and talented workforce, organizations will stagnate and eventually perish as the right employees are the most important resources of companies today (Constantine, n. d. ). Problem Statement (0. 5 Page) The problem that the organizations now face is to how to mesh the management of flexible workforce within their organizations and how to train and enable their human resource and line management functions to be able to use flexible workforce as strategic tool. Topical Area and Literature Review
Organizations are combinations of physical, financial, and human capital wherein the human capital refers to the knowledge, skill, and ability of people and their motivation to use them successfully on the job. The organization’s workforce is essentially a stock of human capital it acquires, deploys, and retains to attain outcomes such as profitability, market share, customer satisfaction, and environmental sustainability. There are many indications of this critical role of staffing in today’s organizations: 1.
The positive impacts staffing can have on organization effectiveness. 2. Acquisition and retention of Leadership talent which is at a premium. The exiting leader carries a wealth of knowledge and skill out of the organization and leaves a hole that may be hard to fill, especially with someone of equal or higher leadership stature. The leader may also take other key employees along, thus increasing the exit impact. 3. Organizations also recognize that talent hunts and loading up on talent are ways to expand organization value and provide protection from competitors.
Unique and rare talent pools of this sort can serve as a source of competitive advantage for the organization for an extended time period. 4. Employee shortages often require disruptive adjustments, such as job reassignments or overtime for current employees or employing under qualified employees presenting special challenges. Thus, shortages of labor, both quantity and quality, threaten growth and even survival and the ability of individual managers to effectively run their work units. Smith (Simth et al. 2011) avers that employers today need to be able to fit to the employees mould rather than the employee fitting into the employer’s mould. This is driven by the belief that employees are different and need to be managed as individuals rather than a one size fits all approach as had been in the past. Every individual has different aspirations, potential, needs and growth expectations; and it falls on the employers of today to acknowledge that and make that change over to their human resource management practices.
Eleveld (Eleveld, 2011) brings to the attention that highly skilled and experienced professionals who will be too expensive to hire, can be brought on board as flexible employees or contractors. These flexible employees will have different motivations of working with organizations and will have different priorities and hence need to be managed differently from the full time employees. It will be to the organization’s disadvantage if these choose to ignore the value these employees can bring onto the table.
The rising costs and business uncertainty is also forcing companies to scale back their permanent hiring plans and look at flexible employees and contingent workers to perform those responsibilities. Partridge (Partridge, 2010) mentions that leveraging flexible workforce is one of the key strategies that the EU countries are using to emerge from the financial crisis without increasing these long term employee costs. Lewis (Lewis, 2010) talks about how with the increase of contingent workers has not been accompanied with a shift in the organizational policies.
The benefits that allow the flexible workforce manage their work-life better have not been extended to them as is the case with the full time employees. This has involved in successfully transferring the risk from the employers to the employees and has created a growing peripheral or contingent workforce to whom family-oriented policies often do not apply. Lewis (Lewsi, 2010) also mentions that there has been some resistance from the line management regarding the efficacy of the involvement of temporary and contingent workers and towards extension of flexible work practices.
What they are failing to realize that the worker productivity can be increased by allowing flexible working and thereby acknowledging the needs of an employee at different stages of their lives. Shacklock (Shacklock, 2011) talks about how there is a growing interest in Australia amongst the older workers to continue with their working life and therefore they have employment needs and aspirations that cannot be addresses through the usual full-time employment policies that most organizations have.
The older workforce is also increasingly looking at work flexibility and flexible positions. Platman (Platman, 2004) stated that older workers in the UK looked at flexible working arrangements like freelancing, consulting and self-employment to be attractive options and this helped them continue working and being part of the productive work force longer. This research also indicated that flexible work arrangements and their impact upon older workers and their intentions to continue working remain under-researched.
The greater participation rate of women in the labor force over recent times (ABS, 2006) has driven the demand for improved balance between the demands of work with the obligations of family and home. Continued interest in working without the financial need to do so was influenced by the flexibility of working arrangements (continuing to work but under different conditions). The above literature points to the changing trends in employment and employee mindsets indicating that not only in manufacturing but also in nowledge based professions there is an increasing move towards looking at flexible working options both by the employers and by the employees. What needs to now follow is to look at ways how this new employee-employer set-up can be managed into being a productive and suitable delivery model. Causes and Analysis Traditional career paths strictly emphasize upward mobility within an organization. What we need urgently to understand is that how this mobility can differ in organizations with innovative career paths.
The emphasis is not on upward mobility but on movement in the organization in any direction, including up, down, and from side to side to ensure continuous learning by employees such that each can make the greatest contribution to the organization. Many organizations have shifted to alternative mobility paths because there is a need to be flexible given global and technological changes and also slower organizational growth has made it necessary to find alternative ways to utilize talent pool (Lee, 1994).
There are the following alternative mobility paths that innovative organizations typically use: 1. Parallel Track Mobility 2. Lattice Track Mobility 3. Lateral Track Mobility In parallel track mobility in the software services industry, an engineer could move between managerial/team leading profiles and development/subject matter expert roles thus ensuring that he is getting exposure to both. He could serve as a team lead/project manager for a particular project area for 2 years acquiring necessary people skills and also exposure to technology domain.
And then move into development/engineering role building his skills to become a subject matter expert over the next 2-3 years. In the lattice track in the consulting industry, a consultant could move between industry streams becoming an analyst in one and then building his skills to becoming a consultant in the same area and then moving onto another industry segment and building his skills as an analyst and then moving onto to be a consultant in that area after acquiring expertise.
Eventually he could end up being the managing consultant for both these streams, before taking up another analyst position in another industry stream. Therefore there is both vertical and lateral movement. In the lateral track, a sales manager for a software services organization could move into marketing as a communication and marketing manager. He could then move into project management and manage project delivery before moving back to sales management for a bigger book of business this time.
Though he stays at the manager level, he keeps moving between departments thus acquiring a variety of skills in different departments of the company. Solutions and Recommendations There is also a need to look at ways how to keep the flexible workforce motivate to perform and continue to be associated with the organizations and not carry their knowledge and experience to competition. Compensation and career development activities like training figure amongst 2 most effective retention initiatives.
Therefore organizations particularly pay attention to these in the staffing process. Training and development programs also provide a sound basis for replacement and succession planning (Loretto, 2005). Compensation is the most important reward that the organization has to offer in its attraction strategy. It is a multi pronged reward that may be presented to the offer receiver in many forms. Sometimes that may consist of a standard pay rate and benefits package, which must be simply accepted or rejected, or the offer may be more tailors made and negotiated in advance.
Job seekers carry with them a set of pay expectations determining how they respond to the compensation. Use of flat rates can be useful for jobs for which there is a good supply of job applicants, where applicants are of quite similar KSAO quality, where there is a desire to avoid creating potential inequities in starting pay among new employees. Under some circumstances, use of flat rates may be mandatory. Pay differentials typically make sense when there are situations where the organization thinks there are clear qualitative (KSAO) differences among finalists.
Some finalists are felt to be worth more than others, and starting pay differentials are used in recognizing this. Examples here will be the case of new college graduates vs. those also having prior work experience and applicants with bilingual language skills. When organizations are concerned about attraction outcomes, almost regardless of applicant KSAO differences and to accomplish these outcomes, flexibility in starting pay rate offers is used to be responsive to finalists’ demands, to make offers attractive, and to otherwise impress applicants.
There is also the situation of geographic pay differentials. Use of differential starting pay rates requires attention to several potential problems like different pay mix preferences, issues of fairness and internal equity among employees may arise when there is too much discretion in the range of starting salaries that exist. Short- term variable pay may be available on jobs, and if so, the organization should address this in the job offer. This is a major issue and has important implications for the likely effectiveness of staffing activities.
Two of the major reasons these organizations provide for such short- term incentive offerings are to compete for qualified employees and to retain employees. While long- term variable pay plans provide employees ownership opportunity and the opportunity to increase their income as the value of the organization increases. ? Changes are usually needed to overcome barriers to mobility and for staffing practices for eliminating the glass ceiling the following are some of the suggestions that have been found: 1. The barriers to upward mobility can be removed through internal recruitment activities.
Internal recruitment planning needs to involve the design and operation of internal labor markets that facilitate the identification and flows of people to jobs through-out the organization which may very well conflict with well entrenched seniority- based practices or seniority systems. 2. For recruitment strategy, the organization must increase its scanning capabilities and horizons to identify candidates to promote throughout the organization e. g. looking across functions for candidates, candidates should thus be recruited through both hierarchical and alter-native career paths. 3.
Recruitment sources have to be more open and accessible to different sets of candidates. Informal sources should not suffice and recruitment strategies that encourage openness of vacancy notification and candidate application should become the rule. 4. Top management will need to take concrete steps to not only create better experience generating opportunities for minorities and women but also foster a highly inclusive climate & they will need to make managers formally account-able for the occurrence of these conditions in the organization. The support must include actions to eliminate prejudice and stereotypes. . Women and minorities will have to be provided the job opportunities and assignments that will allow them to develop the depth and breadth of KSAOs needed. 6. The organization needs to provide continual support to help ensure positive person/ job matches such as mentoring, training, and flexible work hour’s systems. 7. Te organization must develop and use valid methods of assessing the qualifications of women and minority candidates. 8. Evaluate differences between salary of men and women at parallel levels within the organization. 9. Measure women’s turnover against men’s.
Explore reasons why women leave the organization. Reflection and Conclusion (1 Page) With the changing business and human resources environment, there is a need to bring the organizational policies in step with the workforce realities. The flexible workforce is clearly a strategic asset that can be managed by organizations to their benefit in this uncertain business environment and also prolong the employment of their more experienced and highly productive employees (Gratton, 2003). The following are some of the areas and possible actions that organizations can take to take the step in the right direction: . Flexible compensation structures: Flexible working hours would mean that the companies need to look at compensating these employees commensurate with the hours that they are spending and also the lowering of the company’s cost in employing these people. 2. Other benefits and coverage on similar lines as full-time employees: There have been many instances when the flexible workforce is not treated at par with the full time employees producing little loyalty in the contingent workforce and therefore sub-optimal outcomes for both the employer and the employee.
Given that there is a trend of highly experience, skilled and motivated employees now moving into the flexible workforce, this outlook towards managing these employees would only discourage these employees to continue (Greenhalgh, 2004). 3. Training an continue employment counseling and needs: The flexible workforce can be extended training and counseling support that will allow them to use their additional free time to enhance their skills and growth within the organization and the industry at large. References Alison , P. (2010, September). A flexible workforce for local economic resilience.
Lead Expert of the ESIMEC Project. Retrieved from http://urbact. eu/fileadmin/general_library/flexible_workforce-_Alison_Partridge__2_. pdf Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2006). Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra. Retrieved from http://www. abs. gov. au/ausstats/abs@. nsf/7d12b0f6763c78caca257061001cc588/d85e2a6345a76bf5ca25710c007481a0! OpenDocument Constantine, R. A. (n. d. ). Challenges of a Flexible Workforce. Retrieved from http://api-ec. api. org/meetings/proceedings/upload/Randall_Constantine_Presentation. pdf David, S. , & Susan, M. C. (2011).
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Lee, T. W. , & Mitchell, T. R. (1994). An alternative approach: the unfolding model of voluntary employee turnover. Academy of Management Review, 19, 51-89. Lewis, S. (2010). Restructuring workplace cultures: the ultimate work-family challenge? “, Gender in Management. An International Journal, 25(5), 355-365. Loretto, W. , Vickerstaff, S. , & White, P. (2005). Older Workers and Options for Flexible Work, Equal Opportunities Commission, Manchester. Platman, K. (2004). Flexible employment in later life: public policy panaceas in the search for mechanisms to extend working lives. Social Policy and Society, 3(2), 181-188.