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How HR leaders can unlock more value from the non-traditional workforce

“Today’s workforce has become a dynamic talent ecosystem”, Deloitte announce in their 2018 Global Capital Trends report.

Which means today’s HR and recruitment leaders have a huge responsibility, and opportunity. 

Because the workforce has changed – so how we recruit, onboard, manage, train and retain that workforce needs to change too.  

Deloitte report there are 77-million freelancers in Europe, India and the US. 50% of companies surveyed report a significant number of contractors in their workforce, while 23% leverage freelancers and 13% gig workers. 37% expect those figures to increase by 2020.  

This is a paradigm shift. 

Once, non-traditional workers were seen as a functional resource. Plug-a-gap types. Not anymore.

Today, the concept of employee has fundamentally changed. And HR and recruitment leaders who can unlock value from this flexible, agile and evolving workforce, lead the business towards significant competitive advantage.

Onboarding is your starting point. Here’s why. Read on for how.  

Why onboarding matters for the modern workforce 


1 - Unlock better performance, faster


Non-traditional talent is as important as traditional talent to the success of your business. Which means neglecting onboarding for non-traditional workers is totally ludicrous.

Without onboarding, the average hire takes up to 12-months to reach proficiency. 12-months. If you don’t do something to bring that time-to-productivity down, you’re carrying dead weight.

Which isn’t ideal, given you’re probably paying a premium compared to hiring someone full-time. You’re banking on them hitting the ground running. And you mightn’t even have 12-months, depending on the length of their contract.

Enter onboarding.

Onboarding is proven to drive a 54% uptick in new hire productivity, and new hires reach full proficiency 34% faster. So it’s a no-brainer for non-traditional hires that need to have an instant impact.

Especially, as we’ll explore below, if you build an onboarding process that doesn’t demand a huge ongoing time and cost investment.  

2 - Safeguard your business and brand  


Deloitte report 36% of respondents are concerned about the potential reputational risk from working with non-traditional talent. And with good cause, if you’re not onboarding those people. 

Because when you don’t onboard non-traditional workers, you don’t onboard them into your culture. Your mission. Your values.  Which means they can’t effectively represent your company.

That’s a real problem.

For your customer-brand, because customer-facing workers mightn’t deliver the consistent, considered customer experience you’ve built the business around.

And for your employer brand, because any non-traditional workers will talk about you to their friends, family and wider network (and employer brand matters today more than ever).

Every worker – not just traditional workers – are your representatives. Onboarding ensures they’re representing you right, even if only short-term. 

3 - Create a dependable contingent workforce


Another 38% of Deloitte’s respondents worry about the potential instability of a non-traditional workforce. But instability doesn’t have to be the natural bedfellow to agility – not if you onboard properly. 

Treat your non-traditional workers like they’re disposable gap-fillers and they’ll treat you the same. Which means starting from scratch whenever you need freelancers – which is time-consuming and costly.

Instead, onboarding your non-traditional workforce proves you care. It proves you’re invested in more than a short-term transactional relationship.

And that builds loyalty, which is the secret to a dependable contingent workforce. And that’s the best of both worlds – agility and flexibility paired with trust and longevity.

How to onboard non-traditional workers


1 - Harness onboarding technology


Sure, you think. Onboarding non-traditional workers is a great idea – but it’s unfeasible. There aren’t enough hours in the day.  

Committing time for comprehensive onboarding is often a challenge, even for full-time employees. In fact, a worrying 35% of companies spend zero-zilch-nada on employee onboarding. 

But that’s where you should harness technology, to build and automate robust onboarding processes that don’t demand constant input.

Using a dedicated platform means you only invest time up-front, to collate and create the content you want to include (and often you’ll already have loads of the stuff you need). 

Read more: 31 Types of Content Your Onboarding Program Needs

Then you ‘set and forget’, until new hires are (metaphorically or literally) in-office and need personal attention.

2 - Tailor for the perfect fit


With onboarding, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. The length, complexity and sophistication of your onboarding efforts will vary depending on who you’re hiring, and what you need them to know. 

For example, best-practice onboarding for a full-time hire extends at least three months. The same clearly doesn’t work for a contractor you’re hiring for six-weeks only. 

What’s needed is an easily-adaptable onboarding process.

And luckily, smart onboarding technology has flexibility at its core, so you can tailor your onboarding experience.

So you can easily assign your new maternity cover Marketing Director to one onboarding workflow and your seasonal sales executive to another. All with minimal fuss or friction. 

So you can trust all new hires - full-time, part-time, contactors, freelancers, gig workers, service providers and anyone else – have exactly what they need to succeed, without a huge time investment from your side. 

3 - Cultureboard


Onboarding isn’t a synonym for training. Sure, training has a role to play. But often you hire contingent workers so you don’t have to train. Perhaps you’re hiring for the specialist knowledge and skills you don’t have in-house.

Instead, think of onboarding as cultureboarding.

For example, populate your onboarding platform with content like video interviews and testimonials, or even a 360-degree office tour. Show new hires what it means to be part of your company.

Read more: 6 actionable ways to help your people find their purpose at work 

That’s relevant whether you’re hiring a six-week intern or a six-month IT contractor.

4 - Think continuous, not static


Onboarding isn’t an event. It’s a process. Which means good onboarding overlaps with performance management.

That might be easier to imagine with your full-time traditional workforce but it’s equally true in the short-term. Even if you’ve only hired someone for three days, you care about them performing their best for those three days.

A digital onboarding hub also doubles-up as a communication and continuous management tool. So you can effortlessly set expectations, define objectives and pre-empt issues (to power better performance) – even if new hires are completely remote. 

5 - Define your offboarding roadmap


Unlike full-time folks, you often hire non-traditional workers with a set end-date in mind.

Which means you can prepare upfront, to ensure handover is seamless. Embed an offboarding roadmap into your onboarding program, so hires know exactly what will happen when home-time comes around.

Transparent expectations help workers finish on a sweeter note – so they’re more likely to want to work with you again in the future.

Read more: How transparency transforms your company

And transparent expectations mean the business is better equipped to handle the change in resources, without plummeting productivity (when the work doesn’t get done) or morale (when the work lands on the wrong person’s lap).

Plus offboarding can be a valuable learning opportunity. Exit interviews – whether a comprehensive one-to-one or a short online questionnaire – offer unique insight into your business that you mightn’t otherwise have gotten.

So you can hone your processes and approach until you deliver a consistently great employee experience. 

Are you equipped to lead the business?


The workforce is fundamentally changing – and HR needs to keep pace, or the business risks getting left behind.

As valuable business partners, HR leaders must define new ways to recruit, onboard, manage, train and retain this new workforce. Talent leaders must take ownership of non-traditional talent from sourcing onwards, to unlock maximum value from your people and help the business navigate this new era. 

The likes of Bacardi, Deloitte and KPMG harness Talmundo’s smart employee onboarding platform to manage the changing demands of a next-generation workforce. Will you?New call-to-action

Topics: HR
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