Other parts of this series:
In my previous post, I discussed some of the factors behind the rise of an expanded workforce in financial services (FS), encompassing more extensive usage of freelancers, contractors, crowdsourcing and on-demand talent platforms like Upwork and Gigster. FS firms are increasingly interested in tapping into these talent sources that enable them to contract and pay only for the work that’s necessary.
As the “one job, one worker” philosophy gives way to new approaches to work, the term “employee” begins to span a range of meanings: internal to external, human to machine, and short-term gigs to full-time work. Though they recognize that the definition of work has expanded beyond the boundaries of the workaday brick-and-mortar office, many FS organizations are struggling to redefine the classification of a worker and to craft new models of employment.
Resistance to change among existing workers and managers, as well as legacy organizational structures, are among the largest barriers. The Accenture Technology Vision 2017 survey found that only 20 percent of FS executives report that their organization has a predominantly fluid or adaptive organizational structure.
Many FS organizations, their HR functions and their leadership are still caught up in thinking and practices that made sense in the days of a job-for-life, but which are not a good fit for an expanded, adaptive workforce. Managers and HR professionals, for example, continue to develop rigid job descriptions and roles, assuming that an employee’s role will stay the same as long as he or she works for the company in the same position.
Evaluating which roles and tasks should be automated, which should be restructured to be delivered via contractors or freelancers, and which should be retained in-house is an intricate task. It affects career pathing, remuneration, training, governance, employee rights and responsibilities, and many other elements of workforce management in complex ways.
Many FS organizations are wary of the governance issues of augmenting internal skills with on-demand labor, where regulations or the confidentiality of the work make it risky to do so. What’s more, they are also aware that developing specialized, internal skills of their own in key areas of the business can give them a competitive advantage.
They are already losing high-potential mid-career professionals to consulting and contracting, and are seeing many mature workers start to retire. FS organizations may fear that a more adaptive workforce model could encourage more of their top performers to join the gig economy, leading to a loss of skills.
Where banks and insurers are making use of temporary workers, contractors and freelancers, they often manage these members of the contingent workforce using different policies, procedures and processes to those followed in managing full-time employees. There is no clear view of the roles and responsibilities of these workers, or a cohesive strategy to manage them as part of an expanded, adaptive workforce.
Finally, many FS organizations are fatigued by change—restructuring, digital transformation and regulatory shifts have all taken their toll—and fear of further change runs deep in their workforces. Some employees may fear that extended use of external freelancers and consultants heralds a reduction in the workforce, or that they might need to work with “guns for hire” who don’t respect and understand the business’s culture.
My next post in this series will look at how FS organizations can manage full-time employees and the contingent workforce in a way that drives collaboration and high-performance.