- Rapidly changing market demands frequently send employers looking for outside, specialized help, according to new research from Robert Half Management Resources. Nearly seven in 10 CFOs (69%) surveyed said they use external resources for major one-time business initiatives, such as a merger, acquisition or regulatory compliance transition.
- Most respondents said they seek outside expertise primarily because they need specialized skills; others said they do so because they need support for internal staff and access to new processes and methodologies. "New technologies and shifting business demands compel companies to adapt quickly to remain competitive," said Tim Hird, the organization's executive director, in a statement. "Change can be messy and disruptive if transformation initiatives are inadequately resourced. In response, many companies embrace the new labor model, which includes bringing in experienced consultants who can help ensure productivity and successful transitions."
- The group recommended that employers, when working with external resources: (1) evaluate internal staffing and external resources based on gaps in the available talent pool and workers’ expertise and project-oriented experience; (2) create a budget for special projects requiring internal staff and consulting services; (3) decide if new methodologies and project-management responsibilities are needed; and (4) establish a process for transferring key knowledge about a project with staff before consultants complete the work and move on.
Employers are increasingly turning to consultants and other contingent workers, largely to supplement their traditional workforces. However, some HR professionals have said they anticipate replacing as much as a third of their workforce with gig labor.
But whatever the ratio of independent contractors to employees, such arrangements bring challenges for HR leaders. They must keep in mind that federal laws distinguishing employees from independent contractors are still in force. And violating those laws can be costly, as many employers have discovered in recent years. But contractor hiring often lives with managers, leaving HR out of the loop and unaware of exactly who's working for the company and creating a potential compliance problem. HR leaders also struggle with managing outside workers and appropriately integrating them into their companies’ teams, processes and culture.
Still, employers will likely continue to need outside experts' help when facing major, one-time transitions. As Robert Half mentioned, mergers and acquisitions are a task that frequently calls for external experts. But that doesn't mean HR doesn't have a role to play in these events. HR professionals can be an invaluable resource and help employers remember to ask some important questions during these processes, experts said during the American Bar Association's 12th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference late last year. For changes to go smoothly, they said it's crucial that employers remember to think about the employees involved — something HR is well-equipped to spearhead.