16 Feb Your People Analytics Strategy Is Incomplete Without the Extended Workforce
Changes associated with the Future of Work have created the greatest opportunities ever for those of us on the people side of business. Transformative technology, globalization, demographic shifts, and a rethinking of the role of work in our lives and society have given HR practitioners an opportunity to break free from the shackles of outdated operating models and old paradigms about our function.
It’s no wonder that five of the 2023 LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise are in human resources. With these new opportunities in HR however, comes the responsibility of ensuring the health and well-being of the workforce – critical for ongoing productivity – and a new way of looking at work.
People Persons Must Be Data Persons
The relentless digitization of our social and economic systems has created oceans of data with which we can analyze and improve organizations and the work they accomplish. Dynamic, unpredictable markets for goods, services, and labor mean that there may not be a single, replicable path to desired work outcomes. The positive results of these shifts lead to ideation, experimentation, and iteration at the organizational level instead of copying so-called “best practices.” The conclusion? Analytics are core to business operations, and people analytics and the workforce insights they generate are core to understanding work.
While the #2 job on the LinkedIn list is HR/People/Talent Analytics Manager, all the jobs on the list require data literacy to understand how to generate and act upon these unique workforce insights. In fact, all HR practitioners need a basic understanding of the power and limitations of people analytics, as well the ability to ask the right questions to generate actionable workforce insights. Your organization and your career depend on it.
A Comprehensive People Strategy Includes the Extended Workforce
While there have been many advances in people analytics practices over the past decade, a significant gap holds many organizations back. If your people analytics strategy – in fact your overall workforce strategy – does not include the contingent workforce, aka the extended workforce as a key group of a wholistic approach, it’s incomplete.
According to Upwork’s Freelance Forward 2022 Report, over 60 million Americans, or 39% of the workforce, performed freelance work in 2022, contributing $1.35 trillion USD in annual earnings to the US economy. This data aligns with Staffing Industry Analysts Global Gig Economy 2022 Report, which identifies the global contribution of independent contractors at nearly $3 trillion USD annually, along with $528 billion US for temporary workers sourced by a staffing agency, and $1.05 trillion for temporary workers sourced directly. Not including the contributions of these workforce segments in an overall workforce strategy and analytics practice leaves a serious gap in your data.
New Types of Workforce Insights
The people analytics field is making tremendous gains in terms of listening practices, workforce planning, and measuring human contributions to work outcomes. On top of this, many organizations are adding sourcing and skills intelligence to their people analytics strategies to better understand how to meet the talent needs of their organizations in a competitive labor market. In many cases, the extended workforce provides options for both access to talent and skills that would otherwise be difficult to find as well as new types of workforce insights that complement an already robust suite of analytics on the permanent workforce.
For example, visibility into skills and availability of talent through a direct sourcing talent community or staffing supplier can be added to internal predictive data around staffing levels, absences, business demand surges, and short-term projects to help meet workforce demands and avoid the burnout and disengagement that can come from under or over-staffing. Freelancers are often paid in piecework (e.g., by milestones or number of words completed, etc.). Tracking and analyzing this type of data can be used to help derive the value of workforce contributions to a specific project or work outcome without fancy econometrics or inferential statistics.
Including your extended workforce in your overall people analytics practice does not have to be complicated. Extended workforce Platforms-as-a-Service like Flextrack can ingest data from any internal or external source quickly and inexpensively and feed it into powerful analytics and data visualization engines. The result is on-platform analytics, in the flow of work, that can be understood and actioned by hiring or program managers without having to toggle between systems or requiring advanced data studies.
There is simply no reason not to include the extended workforce in your people analytics practices. The sooner you start the faster you’ll be ahead in the war for talent, solving problems and growing your credibility as an HR practitioner with the business.
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Jeff Mike works closely with HR, Procurement and IT leaders to design extended workforce ecosystems that fuel and future-proof enterprise talent strategies. Jeff brings over 15 years of experience leading HR functions, along with five years leading global HR- and workforce-related research, to combine the best thought leadership, business practices, and platform technology into purpose-built solutions.