March 7, 2017

Usually, when I hear the word “blender” I think of protein shakes, nutritious fruit smoothies and pureed vegetables for my favourite cold gazpacho soup.  Yet recently I have heard this word used frequently in terms of the workplace.

According to two recent Forbes and Newsdesk News articles,  “the blended workforce is on the rise”.  What is a blended workforce?  What do companies throw into their Human Resources blender of employees?

The answer is that the new blended workforce is a variety of employees with a range of different contracts.  It includes permanent full-time employees, part-time employees, temporary workers, contract workers, and freelance workers.

This new workplace trend is already impacting companies in several ways.  For example, it has created a new type of diversity.  This diversity is rising and as Newsdesk News states “already 93% of companies identify the blended workforce” and within the next 5 years “at least 40% of the workforce will be freelancers”.

This trend is only a prediction, and not all forecasts become reality, yet it is a development that everyone might want to pay attention to. With trends that become a reality, come rewards and advantages, and challenges and inconveniences.

The challenges and inconveniences include possible friction among teams as blurred lines can prevent the contract worker from truly feeling part of the team. Another potential challenge can be new staff tracking systems as many freelancers work on their own schedules which may or may not correspond to regular business hours. This could cause a Human Resources nightmare if a manager wants the expertise the freelancer can bring to a project.

Yet there are numerous rewards and advantages to the blended workforce. This includes the new definition of diversity and a fresh perspective.  For example, a freelancer can bring a unique and creative point of view to a project since they are usually removed from traditional office politics.  According to Blog Talk Radio, contract workers are usually happier than full-time permanent employees because they are profiting from their control over a better work-life balance.

From a management perspective, a blended workforce provides cost-effective flexibility as it allows organizations to take the time to find the right fit for a full-time candidate which helps to prevent expensive hiring mistakes.  Add in the reduced costs that contract workers bring, and the blended workforce is even more appealing to employers.

If this trend does become a reality, the hope will be that employers will set clear company communication policies and project expectations for both full-time permanent employees, and contract workers, in order for everyone to work toward the same goal.

Don’t be surprised if you get tossed into the workplace blender, and become part of a diverse team that is achieving targets in a totally new way.   Trends don’t always become a reality yet sometimes they do!

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