Blended workforce: what is it and how can you use it for your organization?

Blended workforce: What is it and how can you use it for your organization?

Skilled and committed employees are essential to an organization's success. Until recently, your workforce may have mostly consisted of full-time employees, with the occasional intern and part-time hire. However, times are changing, and technology allows us to diversify every aspect of our personal and professional lives, including how we recruit personnel. 

What is a blended workforce?

A blended workforce essentially means having a variety of work arrangements for your personnel. In other words, you can potentially improve your flexibility and keep up with new trends and customer demands by using temporary workers, freelancers, consultants, contractors, and other employment types in addition to long-term hires. Although the gradual shift toward alternative recruitment processes had already started, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to think outside the box and figure out unconventional ways to attract top talent.

What are some advantages of a blended workforce?

The perks of using a blended workforce depend on multiple factors, such as your organization's size, your industry, and your specific needs. Some common benefits of using various types of employees and collaborators include:

Having a highly flexible workforce

The top advantage of using a blended workforce is the great flexibility it offers. Do you need someone for a highly specific short-term task? Hire a specialized freelancer. Are you a seasonal business with a surge in demand around the same time each year? Hire contractors that are willing to work for a limited time. Although permanent employees may be more dependable, they also limit your company's ability to adapt based on specific requirements and market conditions.

Benefiting from lower personnel costs

Permanent employees are a significant expense for any company, regardless of its size. Besides paying their salaries, you must also provide paid time off, medical insurance, various bonuses, and other types of employee benefits. Hiring freelancers and other types of gig workers usually means you can avoid most of these expenses, as these professionals are only paid to provide the services you hired them to perform. 

Reducing your operating costs

Permanent employees also require permanent working conditions. This means that you need to provide each full-time employee with their own workspace and the tools they require to perform their tasks. Hiring people remotely on a temporary basis can help you get the benefits of a specialized workforce without the expenses of a large physical workspace and tools such as computers and servers.

Having happier and more motivated employees 

Permanent employees may be more likely to lose motivation and get stuck in a routine that doesn't provide them with a good work-life balance. Having a blended workforce can allow you to keep the full-time employees who are enjoying what they do and are happy to work for you, while filling the remaining positions with short-term or remote hires. Contractors and temporary employees may be more motivated to deliver quality work, as they're trying to get their contract renewed or earn a permanent role within the team.

Easily scaling your business

If you're anticipating an increase in demand for your organization's products or services, you can scale up by using a blended workforce. This way, you can add the personnel you need to keep up with the rising number of customers without the risk of overstaffing if the demand later recedes. This kind of scalability can boost your bottom line and keep you competitive.

What are some potential downsides of using a blended workforce?

While using a blended workforce is likely to be a net positive for most businesses, there are potential challenges you need to understand and address.

Managing a remote workforce can be ineffective

Having all your employees in a centralized location can make it easier to manage them and keep them moving in the same direction. You can more effectively manage remote workers by implementing efficient work procedures and using software tools for communication and performance assessment.

Contractors and freelancers may have higher pay rates

Although you'll be saving money by eliminating some of the benefits that come with full-time employment, it's important to remember that specialized independent workers are likely to have higher hourly rates. The good news is that if you find the right people for each task, the productivity boost will more than make up for the higher wages.

You may experience high employee turnover

Unlike many full-time employees, who value stability and tend to stay loyal to their hiring organization, freelancers and contractors are often looking for new gigs. This means that you may have to find new people mid-project, but adaptability is part of a manager's skill set.

"Times are changing, and technology allows us to diversify every aspect of our personal and professional lives, including how we recruit personnel."

How to create a blended workforce and use it effectively

Although your organization may have its own particularities regarding workforce management, some basic principles apply in most situations. Some ways to organize your blended workforce include:

Create a thorough onboarding program

Since some of your blended workforce operates remotely, it's essential to integrate them as quickly as possible. Consider building a dedicated onboarding process for them that includes specific details regarding their role within the organization, such as how they're supposed to communicate with colleagues, what their department's goals are, and what other information is essential for them to integrate with your team. Remember to provide them with insight regarding company culture; although they won't be interacting with their colleagues in the same way as a full-time employee, it's still important for them to know your company's values.

Set clear performance benchmarks

Having high numbers of remote and contract-based workers can make it more challenging to track their performance levels. The first thing you can do to mitigate this risk is to set clear and measurable expectations for all your employees, regardless of their status or position. Then, you can work on building a tracking and reporting system that allows you to measure each employee's performance based on objective and consistent standards.

Make sure everyone has the right tools to succeed

Your blended workforce requires a wide variety of tools to perform their tasks and communicate with each other. Make sure you understand what each of them needs to perform to the best of their ability, both as an individual and as part of a greater team. It's also important to define each employee's access to organizational tools and resources. For instance, some internal company information may be confidential, so allowing temporary employees to access it may not be a good idea.

Encourage collaboration between full-time and temporary workers

Your organization's workforce is a team, and their synergy can be key to your success. Encourage your full-time employees to communicate and collaborate with temporary ones, and vice versa. Having a positive and effective work environment can make a big difference when it comes to workplace productivity.

Sooner or later technology disrupts every field, and the past few years have shown us that employee recruitment is no different. Even if you don't keep up with the times, you can be sure that your competition will. Building a blended workforce by adding specialized professionals to your staff can enhance your organization's ability to innovate, keep up with demand, and prepare for the future. 

Learn more about effective recruitment:

Find out how and why you should prioritize hiring graduates to improve your operations.

Discover how internal recruiting works and what its benefits are.

Consider these hiring strategies during a labor shortage.

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