HR shared services and the “Gig Economy”
HR and the independent worker
The workforce is changing. While the actual percentage of independent workers varies from study to study and country to country they all agree on one thing: the number of independent workers will continue to increase. What exactly is an independent worker? Definitions do differ, but for the purpose of this article, I am defining independent workers as casual, contractor, freelancer, temporary worker or any of the other words used to describe someone that a company pays to do work that is not a permanent employee. As this population increases within organisations that have a shared service centre (SSC), changes will be required to the processes and systems for the SSC to continue to add value to the company. Here are a few examples, taken from the HR space but in many cases, these examples could just as easily be applied to IT support, F&A or other shared service processes.
When employees call the HR service centre, they need to be able to identify who they are. Not only to help drive a great customer service but also to protect the individual’s data. If the independent worker needs to interface with the HR service centre how are they going to validate who they are? Will you set each of them up in your HRIS with the appropriate amount of data? If you do then, it could end up costing you more as each “employee” bears a cost in your HR & Talent Management solution, especially if it is in the cloud and you are paying for the employee. Or will you not provide any services to these individuals? Then how are you going to know that they have completed their mandatory training and certification to be compliant for health and safety?
The first step is to determine if you want independent workers to use your HR service centre for areas like compliance certification and training, time and attendance queries or whether you are going to build different processes for independent workers.
If you do decide to include the independent worker in your HRIS than how are you going to address the data protection requirements? The rules are changing around data privacy and security, especially in the EU. How are you going to make sure your company has in place the appropriate procedures and processes associated with data protection for independent workers? Do you have contact information on each of your independent workers to be able to disclose to them if something does happen? Do you need to include specific clauses in your service contracts either directly with the independent or with the agency they work? Without the right data protection provisions it might not be possible to support the independent workers “employment” processes from your SSC or HR Outsourcing HRO) provider.
The management of the various HR processes that an independent worker might need access to could be significant for an organisation or potentially zero depending on what the worker is doing and your company policies. Is your business going to contract with the independent worker direct? In which case, some activities most likely will need to be supported by the SSC, for example, health and safety requirements for your industry. Or are you contracting with an organisation that will provide you with the independent workers and therefore your company is not responsible for ensuring they are compliant, paid correctly or educated on the latest health and safety rules? If you are like most organisations, it will be a hybrid. What roles will your HR SSC play in helping to make the management of independent workers as cost-effective as possible? There is no right or wrong answer.
As the number of independent workers continues to grow, and the methods for contacting those workers continues to morph, the leaders of shared service operations, either captive or outsourced, need continuous review regarding which processes and systems can add value. And from an HR perspective, it would not be appropriate to just “leave it to procurement”. Individuals who come into your organisation and interface with your clients and other stakeholders need to understand the values and culture of the organisation and ensure that they meet all of the compliance standards for the role. The HR SSC can support this, but the processes and systems will need to change to provide the appropriate service to the independent workers at the right cost.
The SSC or HRO need to be reviewing the systems and processes, and how they affect all the types of “employees”, you have in your company. The SSC can create value for organisation across the ever increasing “employee types”.