In Right Management’s Flux Report, four in five HR directors predict that by 2018 most employees will have multiple simultaneous careers or work flexibly as contractors and freelancers. This is an interesting shift. It shows that HR teams are recognising that we need to start thinking differently about how business and people needs can be aligned, and that HR professionals are starting to take the lead.

The last five years have seen a period of unprecedented change across the globe. Most organisations, understandably, resulted in ‘doing more with less’, but this strategy didn’t always have the desired effect. Nearly half of HRs (45%) reported an increase in worker fatigue, alongside increasing disengagement from their employees. The recession was hugely draining for employees and people started questioning their jobs and work/life balance. This has resulted in an increase in the number of people deciding to trade the stability of a permanent job with job satisfaction achieved by working part-time or freelance.

Flexible working is a logical solution for businesses too. In an economy driven by innovation, where businesses need to be able to quickly react to changing market demands and conditions, the skill-sets within businesses need organisations to do so. There will still be a need for permanent employees who really understand and drive the business, but the specialist skills will likely be contracted or outsourced in order to keep up with changes. Another possible scenario is that organisations will have permanent employees floating between departments, acting almost like a temporary resource, but with an in-depth understanding of the company and the right cultural fit.

Either way, in order to align HR strategies to business needs, HR departments need to take the lead on workforce transformation. Rather than reacting to changes, they need to make the change happen themselves. There may be a number of obstacles to overcome as, after all, the workforce revolution needs to be accepted across the business, not just in the HR department. A well-developed workforce strategy will help you overcome these challenges and lead the way in the flexible working revolution.

Five point plan to developing a flexible workforce strategy

1.       Engage senior leaders and understand the business context for change

2.       Review external workforce data relevant to your strategic challenges

3.       Gather the data relating to current workforce challenges and the strategic choices being faced, then align with the organisational strategies

4.       Analyse the results and share initial findings with the leadership team

5.       Develop and implement an action plan that is tailored and will drive accountability for execution and results in the organisation