HR Forecasts More Flexible, Freelance Work

By Dec 23, 2015

HR practitioners predict that flexible work arrangements and freelance, need-based employment models will be used more frequently to meet talent acquisition and retention challenges in the future, according to a recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Right now, according to SHRM’s Business and Human Capital Challenges Today and in the Future, the most effective practice for attracting, retaining and rewarding the best talent is “creating an organizational culture where trust, open communication and fairness are emphasized and demonstrated by leaders,” said one-third of 439 HR practitioners surveyed.

“Providing employees with opportunities for career advancement” (29 percent), “demonstrating a commitment to professional development” (24 percent), and “providing employees with the latest tools and technology to maximize work efficiency and effectiveness” (21 percent) were other preferred tactics.

The Future Looks Different

But interestingly, when HR practitioners were asked to look ahead to the next 10 years, creating an organizational culture of trust declined in importance as a solution, down to 27 percent—a 6 percentage point drop. Providing employees with the latest tools and technology and providing employees with job security also decreased by 7 and 4 percentage points, respectively.

At the same time, there was an increase in the percentage of respondents who said they would offer flexible work arrangements such as flextime, telework or compressed workweeks as a tactic to attract and retain talent (6 percentage point increase).

The survey findings also suggest that many organizations will attempt to shift to using less-traditional employment models in the coming decade in order to deal with the challenges of providing job security.

Currently, 86 percent of the HR professionals surveyed said that their organization uses a traditional employment model that provides employees with specific job roles, duties and responsibilities; however, only 60 percent of respondents said they believed that this model would be used in the next 10 years. Conversely, while 19 percent of survey respondents said their companies currently use a project-based employment model that stipulates the knowledge, skills and behaviors needed to perform a specific project or task without a focus on formal job roles, 40 percent anticipated that this would be the employment model they would use in the next decade.

The shift to nontraditional employment models also includes the freelance, need-based employment model that stipulates the competencies needed to perform a job with no defined formal project, task or role. Although currently only 11 percent of organizations used this model, 26 percent said they anticipated using it in the near future.

“That lines up with a finding from a recent Universum study that found that 55 percent of Generation Z wants to start their own company,” said China Gorman, human capital management thought leader and former chief operating officer at SHRM. “Organizations are looking at the long-term financial ramifications of having full-time employee commitments and this newest generation coming up is saying, ‘I don’t want a full-time job. I want to be my own boss and work on projects that interest me and fit my skills, and autonomy is more important to me than structure and security.’ ”

Everyone gets what they want in that scenario, she added.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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