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To compete in the future, organizations will need to push talent management beyond the confines of the enterprise wall to include the new extended workforce: a global network of outside contractors, outsourcing partners, vendors, strategic partners and other nontraditional workers.
By maximizing the potential of both an extended workforce and permanent employees, your company can gain critical advantages—including agility and access to valuable talent.
It’s the end of work as we know it.
In the future, organizations’ competitive success will hinge on a highly unlikely factor: workers who aren’t employees at all. There are a growing number of people who temporarily lend companies their skills and knowledge in an ever-expanding network of freelancers, consultants, outsourcing partners, vendors and other types of nontraditional talent.
Many of these individuals are jobless, but not workless. Others have jobs in one organization but perform work for another, existing in a complex and intricate web of cross-organizational relationships that form a new supply chain of talent.
They help organizations supplement their existing core set of employees with a highly mobile, dynamic workforce to meet the challenges of a complex and turbulent business environment.
Over the last decade, companies have changed how they tap into the extended workforce. Initially, they did so as a tactical response to an immediate need. But then they began making this workforce a key component of corporate strategy.
This shift has enabled organizations to achieve two of the most sought-after competitive capabilities:
These twin capabilities are essential for success. For instance, in today’s competitive global market, time to market can make the difference between success and failure.
By bringing in people when they’re needed who can hit the ground running without time-consuming training, your business can get a product or service out in front of the competition. Likewise, you can quickly adjust to changing global demand patterns, scaling staff up and down fast and efficiently to meet shifts in demand in various parts of the world. By using the extended workforce, your organization can also quickly change the mix of available skills, which can help you adapt swiftly to changing customer preferences.
The relentless pressure to innovate and the pronounced shift to knowledge work mean that today’s world is far less predictable than yesterday’s, and companies that have developed greater agility can often outperform the competition. Employers’ focus on stable, predictable job roles is also giving way to an emphasis on project work, which lends itself to hiring more workers on a project basis.
Your HR department will need to redefine its mission and activities and, perhaps, create new roles and organizational structures to maximize the extended workforce’s strategic value.
HR may benefit by taking the following actions:
Redefine HR’s customers—Traditionally, HR’s “customers” have been employees. Now, they should also include members of the extended workforce.
Integrate processes and systems—Develop a unified strategy and set of processes and information systems that span all talent segments.
Create new organizational structures or roles that cross boundaries and disciplines—Everyone from procurement, to finance, to legal to line managers could conceivably take responsibility for the extended workforce.
Use analytics to become an expert advisor on the talent landscape—Deciding when to use which talent pools, for which tasks, today and in the future will become an increasingly critical HR capability.
Become a talent broker—HR practitioners will need to become talent brokers, facilitating matches between specific workers (extended or permanent) and specific tasks or teams.
Forge new relationships with partner organizations—Accomplish work through a network of organizations.
Apply talent management practices to the extended workforce—Rethink talent management practices, and determine how each practice can be extended to include workers other than employees in order to best maximize their potential.
Segment the extended workforce—Tailoring your people practices to meet the needs of a highly diverse employee base.
David Gartside is the managing director responsible for HR offerings and capabilities within the Accenture Talent & Organization practice. He specializes in large-scale global transformation programs that impact all areas of HR capability. Based in New York, Mr. Gartside has deep experience in addressing the geographic complexities involved in driving a successful global HR strategy. Yaarit Silverstone is the managing director responsible for talent offerings and capabilities within the Accenture Talent and Organization group. With more than 24 years of experience in consulting, Silverstone has extensive experience in diagnosing complex, organizational performace issues. She is based in Atlanta, GA.
Catherine Farley is the managing director of Accenture's Talent and HR Services. With more than 22 years of experience, Farley has helped clients—primarily within the retail and consumer goods industries—align their organizations' talent and human capital strategies and processes with their business goals. She is based in Seattle, WA.
Susan M. Cantrell is a research fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance. Cantrell is an award-winning author who has recently co-written a book with David Smith, (Managing Director of the Accenture Talent and Organization Performance group) to be published by Harvard Business School Press called Workforce of One: Revolutionizing talent Management through Customization. She is based in Philadelphia, PA.
March 1, 2013
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