Before COVID-19, every industry was already seeing the impact of digitization. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and consolidation were increasing, innovative disruptors were raising more venture capital than ever before, and each internal function in large enterprises was strategizing on how to embrace and incorporate technology.
As the global pandemic hit, digital transformation hit the gas. The most defining effect of COVID-19 on digital transformation has been the growth of e-commerce penetration: e-commerce adoption grew more in the last six months than it has in the prior 12 years. Industries are fundamentally redefining themselves. New consumer behaviors and habits are forming, and the value chains of the market are permanently shifting.
While digital transformation promises a great challenge, it also promises significant opportunities. In our conversations with leading executives across the Finance, Procurement, HR and IT departments – one recurring theme has been made abundantly clear: to capture this new emerging value, an agile and robust talent strategy will be necessary.
Resetting Contingent Workforce Strategies
It’s time to hit the reset button on contingent workforce strategies! Age-old strategies were already under pressure pre-COVID-19. In a post-pandemic, hyper digitized world, organizations cannot revert to outdated techniques. New strategies and boundaryless thinking are required to reconstruct a more sophisticated, agile and robust workforce.
Excitingly, the contingent workforce is one of the most compelling areas for transformation and is often one of the least discussed areas of core competitive advantage. Transformation of the contingent workforce increasingly has implications for increasing diversity and inclusion. Also, other implications such as capturing and attracting the best available talent, building a workforce that can scale up and down with differing business demands and building a workforce with specialized niche talent are key.
Though there is significant opportunity in large-scale transformation, contingent workforce transformations often struggle with execution. Bottlenecks such as lack of organizational buy-in, legacy IT infrastructure and competing priorities leave a number of strategic pillars with little impact. The key to change is to be bold and think big.
To capture the maximum amount of value through a contingent workforce transformation post-COVID-19, there are five steps we advise organizations to follow.
1. Determine and Define the Future of Work
Work has fundamentally changed after COVID-19. Overnight, the entire country effectively became a remote workforce. This transformation has highlighted the importance of establishing digital communications, the need for a flexible workflow, team collaboration and performance management.
Most importantly, it has forced us to rethink and retest assumptions on the way we work. In a volatile business environment, it also forces us to think about how we quickly scale up to address business demand and even scale down without overburdening cost structures.
To explore what the future of work means, leaders should ask thought-provoking questions:
1) What are the overarching challenges my industry is facing?
2) What is the mission of our business over the next three-to-five years?
3) What are the cutting-edge technologies in my industry and how have they been applied?
4) What are the advanced technologies that have not been embraced by my industry and why?
5) What are the relative steps of value creation for organizations of varying maturity?
6) Is there a “mobile versus landline” opportunity, i.e., is there a talent development process that enables us to skip an infrastructure step throughout transformation?
2. Develop a Strategy to Capture Value and Execute
In designing a detailed bottom-up plan of how to execute, take inspiration from all of the innovation in the talent landscape.Leaders should utilize emerging talent pools focused on specific demographics and skillsets, remote work tools and data analytics platforms to improve employee experience, and diversity & inclusion technology to reduce bias. Lessons from technology innovation enable a pathway to capture value and adapt it to your organization.
One of the most critical elements of this stage is establishing the contingent worker journey and tying it to your business strategy. Document each user (from essential agents of change to tangential stakeholders) and map the specific role they will have in maximizing value from the contingent workforce. Similarly, identify the interdependencies between different functions. This exercise will enable you to envision a practical pathway to the desired end state.
3. Establish the Business Case Beyond CostSavings
Historically, a contingent workforce strategy has been synonymous with cost savings. While cost savings is undoubtedly top of mind for organizations today given the implications of COVID-19, we encourage executives to think beyond solely cost savings. Instead, push to the true drivers of business value such as increased productivity, work elasticity and flexibility, and increased internal capability development by bringing in professionals with niche skill sets.
We advise companies to balance cost savings rigor with revenue reimagination – COVID-19 has shown the importance of going on offense swiftly and boldly. Establishing clear milestones and staged progress markers enacts focused execution and milestone-based progress and forces the distillation of broad, visionary concepts into bite-sized chunks.
4. Build the Core Team
Talent is a top 3 priority for over 50% of leading CxOs – whether this is in Finance, Procurement, HR, IT, or the Business. Talent transformation is a journey that necessitates a cross-functional core team. This core team needs to have native competencies that are materially different than dated contingent workforce strategies.
Contingent workforce transformations of the future will not succeed without having deep analytical capability, talent pool connectivity, strong brand attractiveness, and operational rigor. Neither will they succeed without sourcing and talent professionals who are instantiated in technical competence.
Leading executives agree that culture on the core team is infectious. Those who are energized by transformation attract like-minded ambitious talent. The teams best equipped to lead through change will be fitted with new substantive capabilities, a high performing culture and the working models to go on quick sprints, balanced with long-term endurance.
5. Develop the Right Partner Ecosystem
The final step of the strategy is to build the appropriate ecosystem of partners. The organization can’t do everything in a transformation is vital to prioritize and decide from the outset which capabilities to invest in/build, which sets of expertise to buy/partner on and which foundational elements to acquire.
When building the ecosystem, it is prudent to be mindful of constructing an inclusive supply chain. Most organizations have strong missions to exercise impact in local communities. Ecosystem construction with the right intent can help increase supplier diversity and develop a supply chain representative of your organization’s customer base.
Contingent workforce transformation holds material promise to develop next-generation talent first organizations. Most importantly, to execute against transformation, bold leadership and vision are required.
By pushing the boundaries on what is possible, developing a detailed bottom-up plan, engaging on a business case without constraint-driven thinking, constructing the right core team and building an intentional ecosystem of key partners, contingent workforce can be one of the most impactful sources of transformation for digital native businesses of the future.
Workforce transformation experts from PeopleTicker and Metasys will discuss the current landscape and how to leverage advancements in technology and data analytics to ensure your organization is best positioned to attract, hire and engage the best talent. Register for the webinar on September 30.
Romeen Sheth, President, Metasys Technologies
Romeen Sheth is President of Metasys Technologies, a workforce management advisory firm based in Atlanta. Metasys partners with leading global organizations on the full lifecycle of their talent management strategy. Metasys has been recognized by Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest growing private businesses in the country and works with over 50 leading global organizations today.
Prior to joining Metasys, Romeen was a Management Consultant at McKinsey & Company. At McKinsey he specialized in customer value creation, strategic transformation, merger integration, organizational design and capability building development.
Romeen has been featured consistently by national organizations for his thought leadership. He has been featured by the Financial Times, BBC, Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession and Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. He has also been appointed as a Board Member for several organizations; most notably he is an Affiliated Fellow at the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession and is an appointed member of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Emerging Leader’s Council. The LSC is the nation’s largest publicly funded non-profit established by the US Congress. Appointees are nominated by the LSC Board, all of whom are directly appointed by the President of the United States.
Romeen has a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA (magna cum laude) from Duke University
Scott Fraleigh, Chief Product Officer, PeopleTicker
Scott Fraleigh is a savvy and innovative business development expert with 20+ years’ experience in the Contingent Workforce field. Prior to PeopleTicker, he worked as President of Managed Services Provider programs and Payroll Solutions at Randstad Sourceright, where he led a team of 140+ and facilitated the transformation of Randstad from a small regional Managed Services Provider to a global industry leader and consistently delivered double-digit revenue growth. As Chief Product Officer at PeopleTicker, he provides visionary thinking and strategic solutions to accelerate business development, account management and facilitate global expansion.