HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Blended Workforce

More organizations are recognizing the benefits of a blended workforce, one which combines the consistency and long-term commitment of full-time employees with the agility and on-demand skills of non-traditional, contingent staff. This on-demand staff offers experience and skills that are crucial to organizations, no matter the length of their tenure. HR professionals and business leaders need to be familiar with this new, blended workforce.

What Is a Blended Workforce?

A blended workforce is a staffing strategy where an organization uses independent contractors, temporary and contingent staff, freelancers, and part-time workers along with full-time employees. The business climate has changed dramatically since the start of the pandemic in 2020, forcing many organizations to be more agile in their access to in-demand skills and employing remote workers. A blended workforce provides this agility to businesses.

Should a Company Implement a Blended Workforce?

A blended workforce can help an organization maintain a competitive advantage by having access to a variety of skilled talent when they need it. It allows organizations to manage a mix of consultants, freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees without a long-term commitment. This structure can benefit an organization by allowing greater workforce flexibility and visibility so that when needs change at various times and during various stages of business operations, staffing levels can adjust accordingly. When it comes to staffing in a blended workforce, firms can access top skills from anywhere across the globe. This staffing method also helps ignite a sense of competition among workers which can be an advantage for attracting the best talent.

Benefits of a Blended Workforce

There are many benefits to utilizing a blended workforce. Here are a few to consider.
  • Flexibility and staffing on demand. Being able to staff up or scale down based upon business needs can be a strategic advantage for an organization. Flexible staffing allows organizations to respond to needs by hiring staff with specific skills when and where needed.
  • Specialized workforce. This flexible staffing model allows organizations better access to employees with specialized skills and expertise outside of their regular employee knowledge base.
  • Lower staffing costs. Contingent employees do not typically have employment perks such as health insurance, bonuses, paid time off, and other benefits. Organizations can budget for salaries of contingent employees without carrying the costs associated with full-time staff all year.
  • Lower operating costs. Hiring remote, contingent workers avoids the need for large, physical office space and saves the organization money on rent and other overhead expenses.
  • Happier staff. Contingent workers may be happier since they have more independence in choosing who they are working for and the type of work they are doing. They also have more control over their work schedule and work-life balance.
  • Hardworking team. Contingent workers want to work hard to provide high-quality results and, potentially extend their contract or land a full-time position.

Disadvantages of a Blended Workforce

There are some possible disadvantages and challenges related to a blended workforce. Here are a few to consider.
  • Managing remote workers. Though the lower overhead costs of remote employees may be a benefit, managing a remote team in different time zones can be a difficult task. Implementing digital communication tools and protocols is essential with a remote workforce.
  • Lack of engagement. Whether a worker is remote or working onsite, contingent workers can often feel disengaged and left out and don’t receive as much feedback as a regular employee. The contingent workers are often not included in company staff meetings and discussions and receive less support.
  • Turnover. Independent contractors, temporary and contingent staff, freelancers and gig workers generally experience higher turnover as they have less commitment to individual organizations.
  • Higher hourly rates. Organizations may save money by not paying for the perks of full-time employment, but contractors typically charge higher hourly rates than equivalent full-time employees.
  • Compliance support. A blended workforce requires knowledge of employment laws related to the legal differences of employee types. Correctly classifying workers as independent contractors is essential to avoid the risk of misclassifying them and incurring fines and penalties.

Tips for Building and Managing a Blended Workforce

Organizations utilizing a blended workforce need to ensure they are hiring workers from a variety of sources and engaging all employees, whether remote or in office, full or part-time, independent or contingent.

Tip 1: Utilize Multiple Recruiting Channels

Hiring a blended workforce requires utilizing a variety of recruiting channels. Hiring an independent contractor is not the same as hiring a full-time employee. When recruiting for contingent workers, organizations need to utilize specialized job-search sites geared toward variable workers. These sites attract the most experienced independent contractors and freelancers with the specialized skills organizations are looking for. Workers on these sites are also looking for contingent rather than full-time positions.

Tip 2: Focus on Onboarding

Onboarding contingent workers as you would regular employees is important for them to be engaged and committed to working for the organization. A clear and consistent onboarding program will help communicate clear expectations for work product, communication, and the company’s culture.

Tip 3: Set Clear Expectations

Managing a blended workforce, especially remote workers, requires attention to setting expectations and performance criteria. It is important to communicate the same expectations to all workers, both internal and external, from the outset. Important areas to focus on include work schedules (when team members should be available and accessible) when team meetings will be held, and if and when remote workers may need to be in the office.

Tip 4: Provide the Right Tools

A blended workforce includes workers in the office as well as others working remotely. Regardless of their location, everyone needs to work together and communicate, making digital communication tools essential for organizations. It is important to consider all the criteria when selecting the right tools. Will a freelancer have access to an organization’s internal systems? What is the size of the total organization? Who needs to share information and files? Organizations should also have backup plans in case one system goes down so that everyone can continue to communicate and collaborate.

Tip 5: Create an Inclusive Environment

A successfully blended workforce includes all workers: independent contractors, temporary and contingent staff, freelancers, part-time and full-time employees. Remote employees often feel forgotten which can cause a decline in motivation and productivity. Organizations with a blended workforce must work to create an environment that fosters teamwork and includes both local and remote workers in meetings and functions. An inclusive environment is a happy and desirable environment that will attract good workers, both full-time and contingent.
Suzi Tropiano, SHRM-SCP, PHR, GPHR

Suzi Tropiano, SHRM-SCP, PHR, GPHR

With over 25 years of Human Resource Management experience, Suzi Tropiano has worked in many industries including finance, manufacturing, construction, healthcare, information systems, technology, and professional services. Prior to starting Blueprint HRM, Suzi worked both as a senior HR leader in organizations as well as an external consultant. In both types of roles, she has been successful in setting up HR structure and systems at various stages of company growth both from start up to updating and reinventing existing systems.
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