By Linda Perneau, President, Randstad Commercial Staffing

Business leaders in the manufacturing and logistics industry know all too well the rapid changes occurring in today’s workplace — the way work gets done, how quickly and by whom (or what) are forever altering the industry. Technology continues to present both opportunities and challenges for nearly all aspects of business, from productivity and management of labor costs to quality, safety and compliance.

With significant shifts taking place, we are entering an era where businesses must navigate new terrain and rethink how they bring together people, processes and technologies through a holistic approach to accelerate growth. The traditional employment model and environment is evolving with the rise of the agile workforce and its growing role in business efficiency. By 2019, agile workers — anyone who works in a temporary, contract, consultant or freelance capacity — will account for as much as 50 percent of the workforce.1

Agility can benefit everyone

As this revolutionary shift has progressed, companies expect to rely more heavily upon agile talent. While there are many factors that have led to this, one in particularly is a greater interest among workers to pursue agile work arrangements. According to our new Workplace 2025 study, workers surveyed believe that agile work arrangements could give them greater work-life balance, career options, job security and income. Nearly half (46%) of workers surveyed said they chose to become an agile worker, and another 28 percent said agile work was the best option for them. The reason may be that many of the misconceptions about agile employment are eroding. Consider that 48 percent of agile workers agree that agility offers them better career growth and 56 percent say it generates more income.

For manufacturing workers in particular, the choice to pursue agile careers is also driven by current market trends, including the increasing adoption of agile work among employers. In fact, 67 percent of manufacturing employees agree that the current market trends have made them more interested in pursuing a work arrangement outside of traditional full-time employment. In addition, the manufacturing workforce is bullish about the future of the agile workforce with more than 7 in 10 (71%) agreeing that by the year 2025 there will be more people working as agile employees than there will be working as permanent, traditional employees.

What does this mean for employers? They must equip their businesses for what’s to come – operationally, culturally and strategically. Companies that are adept at managing a mix of traditional and agile talent will be most successful in the years to come. It goes without saying that any disruptive shift like this will bring about new challenges for companies as they try to adapt and transform their workforce models. Companies who embraced the contingent workforce model years ago will likely be ahead of the game, though all must adapt as it evolves.

Fortunately utilizing a comprehensive workforce strategy has many advantages. When a company taps into all available resources to address a need, they can do so without the limitations of drawing from only one employment type. It allows for more agility and flexibility in meeting fluctuating customer demand and being properly staffed for peak periods. Companies that understand the benefits of utilizing agile workers and how to best manage them are also reaping the benefits of improved operational performance, lower labor costs and stronger alignment between HR strategies and business objectives.2

Manufacturing leaders are taking note, 89 percent of manufacturing organizations agree that by 2025, companies that are adept at managing a mix of traditional and non-traditional talent will be most successful. And, 83 percent agree that by 2025, their organization will be much more committed to building an agile workforce. The adoption of an agile workforce is quickly taking hold among manufacturers, with many already bolstering their utilization and commitment towards this model. In fact, 43 percent of manufacturing organizations say that in the past five years, they have become much more committed to building a variable workforce to allow for greater flexibility. Today, manufacturing companies say approximately 23% of their current workforce is comprised of agile workers, however they expect that percentage to climb to 30% by the year 2020.

Manufacturing and logistics companies exist in a new era, one driven by technological innovations and heightened levels of customer expectations. To remain competitive in such a progressive environment, companies must integrate a variable workforce while leveraging technology.

Act Now

It’s time to optimize your workforce. Incorporating agile talent can help meet production and customer deadlines and fuel growth, all while driving profit and giving your company a competitive edge.

Accepting this newfound reality will provide opportunities on both sides – employers will have access to the talent they need when they need it, while employees will have the chance to embrace more flexible work arrangements that suit their personal needs and professional ambitions. The agile workforce has arrived. It’s growing. And if you don’t embrace it, you risk losing relevance in today’s ultra-competitive employment marketplace. Organizations that leverage an integrated workforce management strategy will emerge as winners.

1 Randstad Workplace 2025 consists of research findings based on two separate projects programmed and fielded by Research Now: Employee Study and Employer Study. Each survey was fielded from July-August 2016, and included 4,463 respondents over the age of 18 that were employed and worked 20+ hours per week (Employee Study); and included 1,504 hiring decision makers or influencers that worked in companies with 10+ employees (Employer Study). Employee Study respondents were asked about their type of employment, work environment expectations and experiences in their workplaces. Employer Study respondents were asked about the different types of employment arrangement used in their companies and their experiences in their workplace.

2 Randstad 2016 Manufacturing and Logistics Workplace Trends Guide

Linda Perneau, President, Randstad Commercial Staffing
Linda Perneau is responsible for the strategic and operational direction of multiple Randstad US businesses, including office and administration, manufacturing and logistics and non-clinical healthcare. Linda is a highly qualified, results-driven leader with over 20 years of staffing industry experience. Her vast knowledge of strategic planning, start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, operational excellence and geography expansions has enabled company growth well above market in revenue, direct hire placements and gross margin. Prior to her current position, Linda was chief operating officer for Randstad Commercial Staffing.

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