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Learning to fly: Managing an external and internal workforce

Guest blog by Mike Theaker, VP, HR Advisory & Digital Transformation, SAP SuccessFactors

Remember when careers were linear? A workforce comprised of full-time employees moving through a series of sequential promotions doing defined jobs. Managing a known talent pool on a predictable trajectory was straightforward. That’s now a distant memory. In today’s labor market, it’s unlikely and unsustainable. Human capital is in a state of flux. And it’s rewriting the rules and requirements in its wake.

Today’s workforce comprises multiple sources of talent, including consultants, contractors, freelancers, secondments and transfers, occupying a variety of roles. The traditional notion of a contingent worker is someone providing a commoditized service like an Office Admin. Today, we see contingent workers in a range of job categories such as technical, scientific, professional services, finance, and operations.

This diverse mix of contingent workers and full-time employees means the focus is no longer about filling fixed positions, but rather about visibility – knowing who your workforce is and knowing who has specific skills, so they can be deployed where and when they’re required.

The rise of the contingent workforce means HR (and the wider C-Suite) may not know:

    1. Who is working for me?
    2. How are they performing?
    3. Where are they located?
    4. What are they doing?

In many instances, organizations can answer such questions for their full-time, internal workforce. But the real challenge is answering these questions about their flexible, external workforce (could be between 30-50% of the total workforce).

This patchwork of talent is the new normal for many organizations, and it’s not just a trend. During 2020, these types of workers are expected to account for nearly half of the average company’s workforce. Aligning present and future requirements with the appropriate resources and skill sets is crucial. But a different workforce requires a different means of workforce management, as well as different perspectives about ‘employees’.

Recruiting the right contingent hires, accommodating onboarding, and ensuring compliance with local tax regulations and employment laws requires greater transparency, agility and visibility.

Applying HR practices and selected talent processes to an external workforce is a brave new world for HR that’s full of potential. But it requires modern support systems and the appropriate tools if you are to unleash it.

Mike Theaker is the VP for HR Advisory & Digital Transformation at SAP SuccessFactors. He has over 20 years of experience in HR Transformation and Talent Management spanning: HR strategy design; HR technology (including SAP SuccessFactors, SAP HCM, Oracle PeopleSoft and Workday); HR shared services; HR process standardization; HR analytics; HR outsourcing; and change management.

Mike has delivered HR transformation projects in multiple industry sectors across EMEA, North America and Asia.


OpenText SAP Team

SAP is the acknowledged market leader in enterprise solutions to enable the Intelligent Enterprise. Key to the Intelligent Enterprise is a central digital platform that manages all information across an organization. As part of that digital platform, OpenText’s digital content suite enables SAP customers to take advantage of the knowledge stored in their unstructured content.

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