HR & Management

Gig economy workers: Why better business means better people planning

4 min read

07 December 2017

Britain’s flexible working culture has become an “invaluable strength”; the bedrock of a record low unemployment rate and its competitiveness as a career destination. The resulting gig economy has received mixed reactions, with concerns over the rights of workers.

But it is a symptom of changing working habits as technology allows us to work outside of the office environment and the usual nine to five. In the UK, an estimated 5m people are paid for being part of the gig economy, not receiving a regular wage.

According to a report by the Office for Budget Responsibility on the UK’s economic and fiscal outlook, by 2020/21, the cost to the Treasury of the gig economy will reach at least £3.5bn per year. These outsourced labour sources provide increased flexibility for many organisations but they also pose a challenge.

With a more complex workforce that fluctuates almost constantly, keeping a view of and control over who’s working for you at any one time can be very difficult.

This is particularly true as companies try to optimise every element of the business, including the workforce, as much as possible during the current turbulent marketplace.

The external labour sources that a business works with will vary depending on project complexity and time requirements. The management of these workers will involve coordination between various internal departments including finance, HR and operations, as well as a contract agency at times.

From an operational perspective, companies will be challenged to accurately forecast and determine the required daily labour hours and expenses.

For those companies that can develop, deploy and maintain workforce plans that are suited to their specific industry and needs, it can have a hugely positive impact on the strategic and operational aspects of the business.

When plans are effectively implemented, companies can save a significant amount of money and time, while employees enjoy increased flexibility.

Thankfully technology has developed in line with the evolving workforce to provide businesses with the tools to do this. Where traditionally workforce planning systems would collect historical data to manage the present, they can now use real-time data as well to plan and create scenarios for the future.

There are four critical components that are essential for every business looking to introduce a strong temporary workforce plan:

(1) Daily forecasting – Use statistical forecasting and historical analysis to determine common workforce trends for the organisation.

(2) Productivity analysis – Determine target labour coverage and expenses on an hourly basis. This lets you see the financial impact that comes from changes in productivity.

(3) Labour-rate planning – Forecast labour coverage, hours and expense by role. Doing so helps you build a bottom up approach to planning.

(4) Scenario planning – Predict how seasonality impacts the business at every level. This enables you to see changes based on factors like day of the week, time of the year and holidays.

If a temporary workforce is not well planned and managed, it can quickly become costlier than expected. Companies need to be strategic and use scenario planning to predict changes in workload, seasonality or project demand in order to achieve optimal workforce success.

Karen Clarke is managing director, Northern Europe at Anaplan

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