Many companies are modifying long-standing management protocols involving talent acquisition, engagement, and workforce development. Throughout corporations worldwide, leadership teams are creating working environments that are more inclusive, with higher levels of employee input and management exercising less control.
Interdependency among workers and heavy reliance on outsourcing has risen to provide crucial products and services to customers and stakeholders. Increasingly, managers wield less authority over a sizable portion of their workforce because they operate outside traditional boundaries and hierarchical and cultural structures.
Due to the evolving nature of workforce management, forward-thinking leaders picture their human resources as part of a larger ecosystem and adjust their leadership style to suit the new paradigm. Consequently, those leaders are identifying new and innovative ways for each workforce component to cooperate for the good of the organization.
Traditional management theory fails to consider the intricate nature of workforce ecosystems. Companies are discovering that orchestrating a workforce ecosystem is far from trivial and demands creative thinking on changing processes and behavior modification of existing organization members.
Orchestrating Workforce Ecosystems Strategies
Workforce ecosystems require a combination of full-time employees and contract laborers. Acquiring the necessary talent to fulfill company needs are often pursued in an uncoordinated and sometimes conflicting manner, with overlapping time and resources that impede operational efficiency.
When resources are deployed haphazardly, full-time employees can become demotivated, further eroding efficiencies. Some companies are addressing the problems of loosely connected talent acquisition efforts by leveraging sophisticated software systems to centralize, coordinate and integrate staffing processes between department leaders to capture the maximum value of resources expended to manage a diverse workforce. But technology alone will not solve the problem. Leadership must identify and address the organization’s cultural, political, and structural paradigms to design an effective ecosystem aligned with company goals and objectives.
Implementing the design will require the involvement of all levels of management and the support of internal and external workforce participants. Only through the joint efforts of all stakeholders will such a radical shift in corporate operational processes and procedures succeed.
Encouraging Risk-taking Activities
The workforce ecosystem integration team must establish new protocols that standardize results on an enterprise-wide level. Lower-level teams should receive instructions from the integration team explaining the critical nature of the newly formulated workforce ecosystem that clearly delineates the benefits of the shift to department managers and strengthens the organization’s mission.
Experimenting with wide-scale change in any large organization comes with many structural challenges that can be taxing for any workforce. Individual projects should be broken down into manageable tasks to ease the transition as much as possible, matching personnel skills to the appropriate undertaking for efficient implementation.
However, this effort may present unique challenges of its own since determining the competency levels of external teams may prove difficult. Therefore, procedures must be enacted to quickly assess and adjust the support of external entities that hamper progress. In addition, the physical locality of the teams involved can pose geographic and cultural barriers that must be overcome. Communicating with a team based in Eastern Europe differs from a South American team, and language is only one of the cultural hurdles to conquer.
Social and behavioral nuances can be a frustrating source of conflict and division if not skillfully managed. Consistent messaging can suffer from communication misunderstandings, especially if the external team experiences elevated levels of staff turnover. Localized management must risk-taking new approaches to deal with such fluid environments amid ongoing cultural and internal political change.
For instance, existing employees may feel threatened by contract workers external to the company and resist cooperating with the perceived invasion force. Much of the fear can be avoided by educating employees on how outsourcing less desirable tasks to the external workforce can enhance their job satisfaction and productivity. They can also increase their skillset through knowledge transfer from outsourced personnel.
But frontline workers are not the only ones who may feel anxiety about rapid change to a workforce ecosystem. Departmental managers may also experience increased stress levels as more autonomous groupthink takes hold, allowing individuals to navigate between different groups and perhaps entire teams to shift between departments in pursuit of special projects and enterprise-wide objectives. Such a fluid environment can make managers uneasy about a seeming loss of control instead of celebrating the flexibility and nimbleness the new order brings to the company.
Furthermore, the culture shock to an organization can be just as unsettling as the previously discussed political turmoil. With decreased authority over workforce personnel, performance review benchmarks and metrics may have to be adjusted to adapt to the new paradigm shift. The integration of internal and external workers into an effective team dynamic must be fostered in a manner that ensures external members of the organization are not alienated and are included in major events, meetings, and team-building activities.
Orchestrated Resource Allocation and Knowledge Sharing
Inclusionary policies, processes, and procedures must be developed to provide unfettered feedback to the integration team on obstacles to the progress of workforce orchestration efforts. Feedback metrics should include worker performance, implemented best practices, and requests for resources, direction, and strategic guidance from the integration team.
Relying on external workers often conflicts with interests in protecting organizations’ intellectual property rights. Companies are reluctant to share proprietary information for fear of compromising their value proposition and eroding a distinct competitive advantage. The integration team can resolve conflicts with external entities by establishing risk-adjusted guidelines for information sharing that reduce concerns over losing control of company secrets. Bringing contractors into the organization with clearly delineated areas of responsibility, lines of authority, and strict compliance with signing all non-disclosure agreements can alleviate worries that trade secrets will be inappropriately shared with unauthorized individuals.
When orchestrating workforce ecosystems by introducing or expanding contract labor into an organization, offsetting internal human resources should be freed up to be redeployed to perform more important, mission-critical tasks. However, too often, department managers fail to release the personnel used to justify the acquisition of outside talent, and organizational metrics suffer. The integration team must monitor departmental and division progress to ensure that all resources are properly allocated to achieve agreed-upon goals and objectives.
Internal frontline workers should be solicited for feedback on the progress of their respective teams and workgroups, so they do not have to feel like complainers when voicing concerns. Regular feedback solicitations will give the integration team timely and unfiltered data and information on otherwise hidden discrepancies in operational efficiency.
Enterprise-wide Ecosystem Adoption
Rolling out a workforce ecosystem across an organization requires careful planning and execution. Best practices, benchmarks, metrics, and goals must be revised and updated regularly to adapt to challenges encountered with the adoption process.
The moderate to heavy utilization of an external workforce will require standardized categorization of workers integrated into company software platforms making workforce resources conducive to extensive analysis and evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency on an enterprise scale.
Workforce integration does not stop at the frontline level either. Talent exchanges at senior levels for companies and their external workforce partners benefit both entities. Commercial organizations benefit from infusing fresh new talent at the company’s upper echelons. In contrast, workforce partners benefit from high-level exposure to the inner workings of industries where they may not currently possess expertise. Internally, companies also benefit from increased cross-training among their workers and executives to strengthen and broaden the skills and expertise of their human resources.
Systemic cultural changes are imperative to successfully orchestrating workforce ecosystems. All individuals, teams, departments, divisions, and corporate-wide energies will need to align on the organization’s political, cultural, and structural infrastructure to exercise maximum utility from new constructs and thinking to encapsulate the multiple source points of human and material resources integral to workforce ecosystems necessary to achieve organizational objectives.
External Stakeholder Administration
Worker scheduling, reporting hierarchies, and lines of authority are far more fluid in the larger context of orchestrating a workforce ecosystem. That is because the workforce comprises internal and external stakeholders and contributors. External influences injected into the organization include contractors, location-independent digital labor, and service companies providing continuity and predictability in workforce capabilities.
External workforce dependencies are necessary to achieve mission-critical objectives and require expert leadership and management agility to attain successful outcomes of strategic plans. This agility is most easily performed when those external dependencies focus on narrowly defined high-skilled talent, like Information Technology professionals, which is difficult to attract and retain internally. Fully embracing the integration of disparate entities into the ecosystem encourages cohesion and ignites otherwise unattainable synergies.
However, to meet the challenge of internal and external workforce interactivities, leadership must successfully balance the navigational challenges in resolving each entity’s cultural, political, and behavioral differences. Accordingly, companies can achieve greater levels of alignment with corporate objectives.
It is indisputable that orchestrating workforce ecosystems require a complete paradigm shift in thinking about management practices and technology integration. Human Resources plays a vital role in the development and expansion of the ecosystem enterprise-wide, and specialized teams capable of affecting change cross-functionally are needed for the successful implantation of the concept.
Making the effort to align company personnel with the overall business strategy should be a primary objective for Human Resources. The HR leadership team must develop a comprehensive talent acquisition and organizational integration plan. Implementing such a plan will facilitate transitioning from the old workplace system to the new one. In addition, it will aid in identifying process workflow changes and technology available that determines maximum productivity from employees.
Orchestrating an effective workforce ecosystem is a formidable undertaking. It will have a much higher chance for success if Human Resources is empowered with the authority and solutions to effect change. Given the proper tools, they can pinpoint organizational trends senior management may not know to exist.