Expert tips on how to keep a transient workforce engaged

Employers need to create a positive culture that brings teams together when workers are located miles apart 

The transient workforce is growing at a phenomenal rate, yet only 16 per cent of companies in Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey had policies in place to manage a variety of worker types, despite many expecting to increase their use of transient workers over the next two years.

Human resources leaders have a crucial role to play in cultivating a strong, unified culture among their transient workforce to ensure they are effectively managed and feel as valued as permanent staff.

According to the 2017 Employee Outlook report by CIPD, HR’s professional body, 18 per cent said remote working made them feel ‘under surveillance’.

Sandy Lucas, chief people officer at recruitment firm Alexander Mann Solutions, says technology can be used to ensure transient workers remain engaged and productive rather than pressurised or sidelined.

“HR directors should foster a culture of recognition which extends beyond the parameters of bricks and mortar offices, using technology to offer transient workers real-time feedback on their performance.”

HR directors should foster a culture of recognition which extends beyond the parameters of bricks and mortar offices

Ms Lucas recommends ensuring policies are regularly reviewed, implementing strategies such as personalised communications, and making content available through rich media, accessible via mobile, for example, video updates or gamified continuing professional development programmes.

Much of the workforce at Metro Bank isn’t based in a single location or region, so aligning its people to a simple, positive purpose and vision, with a clearly defined culture, is fundamental to creating a sense of belonging, says the bank’s chief people officer, Danielle Harmer.

“We use technology such as Yammer and Skype to enable teamworking and storytelling across locations,” she adds. “The small things matter too, such as photos on email profiles, and open social media platforms to provide a forum for conversations.”

Geoff Smith, executive director at Capita Resourcing, part of outsourcing company Capita, says: “Technology plays a huge role in engaging a transient workforce, by surfacing people data that may have been inaccessible before, building private networks for organisations to connect with workers, and giving workers the ability to showcase their skills. Machine learning also plays a role, with workers intelligently matched to projects and roles based on experience, interests and skills.”

Technology plays a huge role in engaging a transient workforce by surfacing people data that may have been inaccessible before

Anna Purchas, head of people at professional services firm KPMG UK, stresses that the role of internal communication cannot be underestimated. “If people are working remotely they still need to feel included and up to date with everything in the business. Email updates, internal videos and a good intranet facility can support this.”

Thomas Davies is the founder and chief executive of culture analytics firm Temporall, and former global partnerships director at Google. He advises organisations to define their culture and values, lead from the top, and make culture part of their core key performance indicators.

Mr Davies says: “People have to feel connected and engaged, and understand how their role maps to a vision and strategy, which is even more important for organisations with a transient workforce. Executives should also invest in a feedback loop and use the information from this to align culture towards strategic goals.”

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