My reflection on the Deloitte HCM 2015 trend report: 2 Workforce on demand

In 2005, when I was Nordic HR Partner for  IBM Global Services — approaching 8,000 people where 50 % was from outsourcing – we rolled out the global workforce management initiative. Based on the concept of supply chain management in retail it was applied to our services professionals globally as a major enabler for the adaptive enterprise. To succeed you needed data capture, new policies, new roles, regularly updated relevant skills assessment, new behavior from individuals and leaders and a general mindset across the organisation to … adapt.

The idea of workforce on demand is an on demand operational model, nobody is waiting, no utilization loss etc. It’s a good model when you are there but to get there can be (is) extremely painful. What to do with (existing) employees who does not want to be ondemand?

To succeed you also need a role based organisation and a clear capability assessment per individual as well as an internal trading machine + individual willingness to travel to other countries (if this is in scope). You also need to team seamlessly between operations, finance and operations and add new workforce management polices given what time frame is in scope – now, this month, this quarter or next quarter. How many do the business need of what, why and when (e.g. who will secure the benefits or the reorganization)? How do you convince one BU to let go of an important individual for one project to engage in another – even more important project – keeping track of headcount cost and individual aspiration and interest.

“Eight out of 10 respondents surveyed cited workforce capability as being either  “important” or “very important” in the year ahead, indicating the demand for  skills that is driving a trend toward greater use of hourly, contingent, and contract workers. This trend highlights the need to  develop better processes, policies, and tools to source, evaluate, and reward talent that
exists outside of traditional corporate and organizational balance sheets.” – Deloitte 2015

Workforce on demand is not only about sourcing contingent workers from inside or outside, fill in on peaks via staff augmentation outsourcing for particular skills. You also need to pay them correctly for the role they have (temporarily), assess their performance, ensure they understand the culture of your company and also live your values (remember chapter 1, the naked organisation?).

The operation is called workforce management, the operational model is called workforce on demand, the future forecasting is called workforce planning and closing the gaps between what you have now and what you need sometime down the line is called workforce transformation, whereas the latter should be aligned with your business planning and when you set your learning budget. You’d be amazed how much learning is spent on gaining skills that the company really don’t need. As yourself? How much of your learning budget is allocated to build those skills you actually need?

“The on-demand workforce brings many challenges to organizations as they look at ways to integrate each workforce segment, such as hourly, salary, contingent, contractor, and vendor staff, into a complex ecosystem.” – Deloitte 2015

If you are a smaller flatter organisation like a retail chain you need to delegate much authority to the front line / show manager. You need an interface between business and HR who has opinions and understand both business and HR and can articulate what needs to be done. Workforce management is an ongoing activity, not a project, and will a be a key skill you cannot outsource. It links to scorecard with new variables of individual skills and aptitude. HR itself needs to be on demand and step out of the comfortable annual employee life cycle and facilitate teams that are dysfunctional, mitigate conflicts that will arise with new priorities.

Said that:it’s not enough to have a workforce management tool. You need to keep track of what people are doing, capture time, when and summarize what to pay them. It’s not that easy. However, it will represent a core skill of the future. You need to consider your payroll solution in parallel with you workforce on demand initiative. You need to assign someone that owns the HR scorecard and ensure you deliver the related KPIs on rolling basis. You also need to optimize / automate the process of Employee Data Management, simply because there will be not time for more manual work.

Remember  — this is when it get’s very fun to be in HR! This is very HR – my view- will be able to demonstrate most business value  —it’s action and fire and it’s for real … however you need to combine skills from business domain skills, HR analytic, verbal communication and understand the rule of engagement.

Some skills are so important that you can’t afford to not have them fully utilized. These people you should outsource. Data scientists are such people. Right now, everybody wants them, nobody really need them full time but everybody would benefit from working with them . However, the figures does not add up. These data scientists does not exist in pure numbers  Europe. Maybe in Russia but primarily in the US and in India. Don’t look in vain. Just a tip. You can also read McKinseys report on Big Data 2013.

Zalaris will do the transactional HR for you, as you will have your plate full to become a hero with workforce on demand. We can also build the forms with embedded rules to automate the entire employee life cycle. No data redundancy. In real time.

I recommend to read the full and good report from Deloitte at

Please comment or reach out for a 1:1 to discuss workforce on demand vs paryoll.

Sven Hultin – Business Development Director at Zalaris, Sweden

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