Midsize Businesses Drive Growth By Redefining Total Workforce Management

Dr. Autumn D. Krauss, Ph.D.

Part 1 of the series “HR’s Transformational Role in Growing Businesses

When midsize companies expertly navigate growth opportunities and new market expansion, they demonstrate a mastery that their larger competitors dream of accomplishing. But I’m not talking about their ability to nimbly pivot operations to capitalize on opportunities, shift cash flow immediately to mitigate risk, or scale production volume to meet customer demand. Instead, the real contributor to their success is found in their HR leadership.

According to the IDC InfoBrief “The HR Role in Best-Run Midsize Companies: Using Intelligent Technologies to Manage the Total Workforce,” sponsored by SAP, workforce management and scalability are top differentiating factors for the future success of growing businesses. What this means for the HR teams of these best-run companies is that they must focus on setting and maintaining goals for employee performance assessment and identifying and hiring the right talent, when and where they are needed.

In line with a focus on hiring the right talent and just as important, as suggested by the IDC InfoBrief as well as research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in collaboration with SAP, is the management of the total workforce across full-time employees and contingent workers.

What Keeps HR Up at Night?

what keeps hr up at night

Source:The HR Role in Best-Run Midsize Companies: Using Intelligent Technologies to Manage the Total Workforce,” IDC, sponsored by SAP, 2019.

A refreshing new look at the engine powering growing businesses

The hallmark of best-run midsize businesses is their agility to scale operations at the same pace as demand expands and contracts. And for many of them, tapping a flexible and specialized contingent workforce is the key to sustaining this capability.

Extracting a competitive advantage from a contingent workforce is not just a matter of keeping operational costs low and obtaining additional resources to push through a critical moment of growth and expansion. To realize a real return on their contingent workforce investment, a midsize company depends on the maturity of their total workforce management strategy, including their culture, practices, and technology use.

The maturity stages of a company’s total workforce management strategy, from lowest to highest, are:

  • Reactive: Offering little to no direction to contingent workers to support the completion of an assignment, while internal employees are considered the “true workforce”
  • Tactical: Commoditizing contingent workers for the sole advantage of the business, while internal employees are given the flexibility to focus on more strategic work
  • Operational: Sharing appropriate knowledge and resources between contingent and internal employees to complete assigned work under an implicit, mutually agreed-on, and beneficial contract
  • Strategic: Empowering contingent workers to contribute to peak performance by integrating them into the organizational culture and internal work team
  • Intelligent: Viewing contingent workers as an asset that adds value to the business’ strategy and objectives by engaging in a two-way exchange of input to improve contingent workforce practices

It’s important to note that, regardless of the motives for why a midsize company is using a contingent workforce, there is always value in building a total workforce management strategy based on thoughtful practices, an inclusive culture, and “fit for purpose” technology to manage and engage their total talent. Simply put, the higher the maturity, the greater the opportunity to build a more diverse workforce of internal and contingent talent, which is scalable enough to address the needs of today as well as where a midsize company is striving to get in the future.

Finding value in the blended workforce

When dealing with the constant disruptions of new competitors, evolving customer demands, and volatile economic conditions, midsize companies should consider expanding their traditional view of their workforce. In essence, the best contributors don’t always come through one channel or fit one profile. From short-term contractors and specialized freelancers to temps and more permanent internal employees, they can acquire a range of talent when they need it, how they need it – scaled to address the business opportunities and challenges of the moment.

Discover how HR organizations are influencing the growth of their midsize companies by using modern technologies to more effectively source, train, deploy, and retain their workforce. We invite you to bookmark our series landing page, “HR’s Transformational Role in Growing Businesses,” and check it for new insights and best practices.

 In the meantime, check out the SAP-sponsored IDC InfoBrief “The HR Role in Best-Run Midsize Companies: Using Intelligent Technologies to Manage the Total Workforce.”

This article originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.

Dr. Autumn D. Krauss, Ph.D.

About Dr. Autumn D. Krauss, Ph.D.

Dr. Autumn Krauss is a principal scientist in the Human Capital Management Research team at SAP SuccessFactors. Her role is focused on conducting and applying research on the psychology of work to inform SAP SuccessFactors solutions, as well as providing consultative guidance to companies so they can best leverage human capital management practices to foster a strong positive company culture and improve employee well-being and performance. Autumn holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with a specialization in Occupational Health Psychology from Colorado State University.