5 Ways HR Departments Need to Adapt When Using a Workforce Ecosystem Approach
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 04-05-2023 03:09 AM
Synopsis: A workforce ecosystem approach means that a business focuses on supporting the entirety of its workforce ecosystem instead of just part-time and full-time employees.
orkplaces are experiencing an overhaul; businesses from supply chain and logistics firms to hospitals are changing how they think about their workforce. One rising model of workforce structure revolves around what is called a “workforce ecosystem.” A workforce ecosystem approach means that a business focuses on supporting the entirety of its workforce ecosystem instead of just part-time and full-time employees. According to a Deloitte survey of over 5,000 business leaders, 87% of leaders consider their workforce to encompass more than traditional employees.
Traditionally, even the most successful companies looked at their workforce as only the internal employees that were on the payroll. Today, with the rise in gig work, freelancing, automation technology, and contract workers, organizations that only consider internal employees when discussing workplace strategy are leaving out critical components of their workforce ecosystem.
For HR professionals, this shift in strategic approach has major implications. For instance, instead of only focusing on the learning and development of internal employees, L&D leaders need to encompass the entire ecosystem, including freelancers, contractors, and even technological tools.
As organizations work through the transformation process, there are many adjustments that are needed, especially for HR. In the end, with the workforce ecosystem in mind, functional silos will break down, people will have increased access to new career opportunities, and the organization will work as one cohesive unit. To anticipate some of the changes that are coming down the pipeline, HR professionals should consider the following:
1. New Sourcing and Hiring Practices
Adopting a workforce ecosystem approach requires hiring practices to focus on more than just traditional roles and outdated hiring practices. Prioritizing the hiring of a wider range of employment contracts such as contract workers and freelancers will help move your organization toward this model. Sourcing practices may need to be updated, hiring managers will likely need to be encouraged to consider alternative working relationships with their teams, and new platforms should be used to conduct outreach.
Instead of sticking to job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn, combing through sites like Fiverr and Upwork can result in fantastic freelance and gig workers to add to your organization’s ecosystem. Most HR functions have been thinking “inside the box” for so long, that this can be a challenging transition, but it’s worth it in the end.
2. Facilitation of Cross-Functional Training
In order to be more agile as an organization and adapt to adversity with ease, employees should understand cross-functional roles and be able to step into them if needed. If an organization continues working in silos and the sales team leaves at the same time, then a major function of the business will be missing, leading to less revenue and a scramble to replace that team. To mitigate these emergency dynamics, ensure that marketing, sales, and even finance work together enough to understand how to step into the other functions at short notice if needed.
Cross-functional thinking can also lead to more opportunities for employees. If Marissa works on the finance team but has always been fascinated by sales, getting her exposure to the other team can help keep her happy, boost retention, and provide support to the organization if a hole needs filling.
3. Employee Upskilling
The work we are asking employees to do is changing, there’s no doubt about it. They’re being asked to interact with clients in new ways, use innovative solutions for problems, and work with their colleagues differently. The best thing business leaders can do is invest in upskilling employees, so they are successful as the business changes. If there’s a new sustainability initiative happening, for instance, educating employees on why the initiative is important and how to address it in their areas of expertise will boost its chances of success.
As new technologies are adopted, workforce ecosystems need to be able to functionally use those technologies and change processes as needed. One of the biggest reasons technology implementations fail is due to a lack of upskilling or proper training, so as these things come down the pipeline, the ecosystem needs to be supported through the change.
4. Incorporation of Technology
“Digital Transformation” is a widely used term to indicate the involvement of more digital tools and technologies in business practices. In a workforce ecosystem, technology becomes a vital part of that ecosystem and should be seen in nearly the same light as employees. It needs support, maintenance, and adoption to be successful, and HR needs to rally behind technology initiatives to ensure they hit projected targets.
Technology, just like employees, can no longer succeed in a silo. It’s more complex than putting a server in a room and letting it run; teams need to integrate it into existing systems and adapt processes to lean on technology, looking at technology as another teammate rather than a new-fangled computer of sorts.
5. Revised Organizational Architecture
Organization hierarchies and employee architecture can be surprisingly hard to adjust when moving toward a workforce ecosystem. It might mean that some roles make sense to report to different leaders or two departments become one. Those specific decisions will be made by leadership within each organization, but changing organizational structures sometimes ends up being the most challenging for leadership teams because of its direct impact on how leaders will work with their employees.
The intent with this is never to make any employee or team feel replaced or left behind, but instead, to bring them forward into a new way of working that benefits them and the broader goals of the organization. Be ambitious yet thoughtful when making organizational architecture decisions, but if done right, this can be a powerful lever in business adaptation and success.
In with the New
Workforce ecosystems are a new way to approach organizational strategy; they will change how leaders interact with their teams, how employees interact with their peers, and how everyone uses technology, but in the end, they’ll lead to better outcomes and increased collaboration. HR needs to lead the charge by illustrating what the workplace can look like when workforce ecosystems are successful and making the necessary changes at all levels of the organization to bring that to fruition.