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We’re seeing an increasing currency offered by contingent workers – a greater value from their often, divergent corporate experience and skills. So to approach the workforce strategy in its entirety, starts to make greater sense, as they are now, frequently, perceived to offer as much – if not more – than permanent talent.

And in the context of developing technologies, like AI and automation and jobs, really, the greatest assets a business has, is their people.

The research drew five mega-trends:

  1. Demographic and social change
  2. Shift in global economic power
  3. Rapid Urbanisation
  4. Climate change (impact on resources)
  5. Technological breakthroughs

Despite all this, the future of work is still about the people. Technology is simply an enabler.

  • In Australia, we’re good at building trust: if you think about the financial services industry, trust is at the centre of almost all of the issues, and the lack of, and if you think of how individuals build trust with clients and with team members and so on, but we do well at building trust
  • Talent & Leadership: relative to other countries, organisations in Australia do this well. Focus on talent, identifying talent, nurturing and developing talent, good at leadership development as well
  • Wellbeing: Australia does very well, as corporates and organisations. about looking after wellbeing
  • We tend not to engage in enough conversation about things. And this is actually critically important as we're going into the future of work, is engaging early and engaging in the conversation. Actually getting people to understand what the implications are for them individually and for them as an organisation
  • A rethink of talent, not contingent vs permanent, but the entire workforce, or ‘people’ more broadly. Engaging in the conversation, by rethinking talent, in consideration of some of the statistics around, for example, older workers, using more contingent workers, and the implications that. In a decade's time, the contingent workforce might be upwards of 50% of the total workforce within organisations: a very significant change to where it is today
  • Evidence based decision making: data analytics. We don’t have, nor do we use, analytics. We don’t know how many people we employ. By elevating data & analytics in the HR team & investing in technology around that, we’ll be in a better position
  • Then if you look at from a HR ‘individual’ perspective, our reward and performance frameworks are typically linear, based on linear career and hierarchical roles, that are not relevant any more. Mostly career-pathing, reward and management of talent is based on an individual, not team. If you apply an agile approach to your workforce, and focus on team rather than individual and if you've got a team that has both contingent and permanent workforces, how do you actually manage the performance of that team, rather than each of the individuals in that team?
  • This will give a better picture of what the workforce of the future will look like
There’s a diversity of skills and requirements in business today. Jobs are being taken by technology, and jobs are being created by technology.

There are some jobs which were historically contingent, because there was no availability, and there was a premium on the skillset. And now, this is translated into work that has a defined deliverable and a defined timeline.

This fits with a contingent talent. As does training up people. Helping them acquire skills to fit business needs.

Are organisations being brave enough to actually look at the attributes and skills of an individual rather than their academic background?
There’s a fine line when engaging & managing non-permanent workers. They can’t be treated the same as perms,  so need different measures around goals, achievements, performance. If up to 50% of workers will ultimately be contingent in Australia, how are they going to be rewarded & performance tested?

The best option is to go back & define what the performance looks like in the first place. And take a step back from performance of permanent workforce, who comparatively, have a different measure on performance compared to contingent.

Define what good performance looks like, regardless of who is employed or how, what you're doing and how you're doing it, and then having a performance conversation. It's not about a rating system, it's not about tech, it's about having the conversation.

Doing those two things – defining good performance, and having the conversation – will put you ahead of 90% of employers in this country.
The current model for most organisations in Australia is to have a distributed talent supply chain which is becoming more fragmented, especially due to tech disruption. Organisations tend to have a suite of preferred suppliers and a suite of non-preferred suppliers, some technology marketplaces, some direct channels. So potentially there’s 40 or 50 different ways non-perm talent are being engaged.

Some organisations are shifting responsibility or risk onto outsourced providers. And the services these providers offer is  starting to change in line with the shifting needs of organisations embracing contingent workers, where getting the management of these workers absolutely right, is critical.

There’s risk, efficiency, regulatory compliance factors to consider. And that’s outside of the performance management & output side.
As we said earlier, from the PwC research, data driven decisions are critical. And organisations are tending to outsource that as well. For example, contingent workers rating an organisation on timesheets. Gives an insight into the organisation’s contingent EVP, view & value of line managers & processes to name a few.

In the absence of receiving this information back, organisations run blind. But the needs and the approach to gathering this data as an organisation is situational: and dependent on the percentage of workers in your business that are contingent.

So for example, look at the Royal Commission into the banking & financial services sector: they're shedding a significant number of jobs but reemploying different types of skills in different sorts of ways. The banks, and financial services organisations, just can't get talent at the moment. Pay rates are going through the roof, because there's a specific need, the talent isn’t there so there’s an increased number of contingent workers in the industry - and it's going to be that way for another 12-18 months.
With an increasing rotation of non-permanent workers, there’s a real risk of IP being compromised. A strict NDA for every worker is one step. But IP gets leaked, irrespective. The point here though is this: it creates a more competitive landscape and forces businesses to be more agile.

There's a quote we love by Klaus Schwab which is, “In the future of work, it's no longer the big fish that eats the small fish, it's the fast fish that eats the slow fish”.

And right now, IP gets leaked, and that information gets shared. It's not necessarily about keeping the pie small, it's how do we make a bigger pie and be more competitive, so when competition comes the business is fast enough to be able to react via contingent workers and be able to move even faster and faster. And then leverage that IP to build upon that and build better solutions and outcomes.
Related to the IP Factor, here organisations will need to more closely influence the contingent worker’s willingness to share within the team. And what they’re bringing from a knowledge standpoint.

In addition, assessing the contingent’s overall behaviour, looking at what else they bring to the engagement other than their technical capabilities. It turns into a culture piece, which historically was purely driven via perms only, now, is viewed in a ‘total talent’ framework.

And it goes both ways. If workers feel they’re connected to the organisation they’ll be more engaged and willing to contribute. If they feel
they haven't been treated fairly, they’ll have a very different mindset, especially in the context of behaviour and safety of IP.