4 Tips for Educating Stakeholders and Executives

In the business world, embracing change in contingent workforce strategy is more important to the success of an organization than ever.

But if there's one thing that's as inevitable as change itself, it is resistance to change, whether it's from managers, executives, team members or somewhere else. So what's the quickest way to earn stakeholder trust when it feels like an invisible wall has been erected?

It all starts with some good old-fashioned schooling. And if recent research is any indicator, you'll be stepping into the role of "educator" more frequently when it comes to introducing contingent workforce strategies into an organization.

According to Deloitte's 2019 Human Capital Trends Report, 37% of survey respondents expected to increase their use of contractors, while 33% of respondents expected to increase their use of freelancers and 28% expected to increase their use of gig workers.

The catch? Only 16% said they have an established set of policies and practices to manage a variety of workers, according to the same report.

In these situations, it often comes down to the recruiters, contingent staffing experts and procurement professionals to educate stakeholders about contingent workers and workforce strategies, why they matter, and how they'll help.

Here are a few strategies to make the process easier.

Start by Asking About the Current Contingent Workforce Strategy

Even if you consistently procure the best workers in the industry for your clients, their efforts won't generate nearly as much ROI as they could with a solid contingent workforce strategy in place.

"Organizations may expect these workers to be well trained and ready to work, but in reality, they need support, guidance, and performance measures if an employer wants to optimize the entire mix," according to Deloitte's 2019 Human Capital Management Trends Report.

And the fact of the matter is, most companies are still winging it when it comes to this. Deloitte's 2019 report also points out that, "...most non-traditional workers are managed tactically, often handled by the procurement department, with few consistent talent strategies in place.

So make sure to ask the organization you're working with how they've handled temporary positions and contingent workforce strategies in the past. Their answers will give you valuable insights into how successful their efforts have been, and what gaps you may need to fill in.

Highlight the Benefits

When it comes to educating executives — especially those who hold the purse strings, you already know hammering home the benefits is the quickest way to get the C-suite on your side.

For example, HCM Works outlines a number of benefits like:

  • The ability to hire on a project-by-project basis
  • Rapid scalability
  • Access to the best talent in their industry
  • Creating an agile workforce

Not to mention cost savings, flexibility and quickly acquiring workers with niche skill sets. While many companies are moving towards the model of integrating contingent workers into their human capital management strategy, not every organization or executive is privy to just how game-changing they can be.

This is where data can become your best friend and biggest ally in educating stakeholders.

HR Dive recommends gathering data on the company's people functions whenever and wherever you can because, "Good data can upset even the basest of company assumptions."

Debrief the Team about Contingent Workers

Before dropping a candidate into the bullpen, it's critical to get buy-in from managers and ensure they'll be able to give them the support they need to perform.

"The [contingent workers] who are in the office for short periods of time need support from the manager in-charge, and they will feel much more comfortable if they are treated as a part of the company's family," according to one blog from Human Resource MBA.

Simply throwing a new worker into the mix without giving the team a heads up or properly introducing them could hamstring their efforts and cause full-time employees to feel threatened or excluded.

Empathize with Your Audience

Business author and senior lecturer Melissa Perri puts the stakeholder education process in terms of simple empathy, and encourages readers to, "Explain how this way of working helps them achieve their goals."

While she's technically speaking in terms of product management, the same principles hold true for recruiters and contingent workforce professionals.

"When you start empathizing with stakeholders, you realize that the things they are demanding or requesting relate back to assumptions," Perri continues. This is true for stakeholders at all levels of an organization when it comes to introducing a contingent workforce strategy — or contingent workers themselves.

Keep Your Thinking Cap on at All Times

It's only natural for the managers, teams, executives and others who will potentially be impacted by workforce changes to be wary of shake-ups.

And with changes in the workforce happening more quickly than many companies can keep up with, chances are that it will come down to you to educate teams, executives and managers about the benefits of staying abreast of these trends. When this is the case, use these powerful tips to communicate the benefits and advantages of your new efforts to stakeholders.