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Labor market: A new playbook for an agile workforce

By Marc Vandeleene, PR & Communication Manager, ManpowerGroup BeLux

ManpowerGroup recently conducted a survey of 210 HR Managers from Belgium-based companies to analyze how flexible work is evolving within Belgium. The results show that there is still plenty of room for progress before a truly agile workforce will be achieved. While the old rulebook has been torn up, the world of work in the 21st century is emerging – the Human Age 2.0 – and it requires support from HR services companies.

Marc VandeleeneFirst finding: Flexible work is becoming the solution of choice for companies wanting to become more agile. Within the next three to five years, 48% of companies included in the survey expect to make more use of flexible work solutions. Faced with the new reality of VUCA (Volatility – Uncertainty – Complexity – Ambiguity), companies have no choice but to adapt their workforce, either in terms of quality or quantity, as cycles become shorter.

Second finding: The future will be marked by a diverse array of employment solutions within the workforce. The proportion of external workers will continue to increase significantly compared to salaried employees. HR departments will need to manage people working alongside each other under different types of contracts. Solutions include, in this order: temporary workers (82%), part-time workers (64%), fixed contracts (56%), external consultants (55%), freelancers (52%), overtime (46%), outsourcing (46%) and offshoring (10%).

Third finding: Companies are calling for an urgent review of the regulatory framework, demanding greater freedom in how they make use of different solutions. ManpowerGroup’s survey shows that the HR Managers interviewed feel that recent reforms – supporting longer careers, the introduction of a single status for blue and white collar workers in the private sector and the abolition of the trial period – will not be enough to achieve the required flexibility. 

Minister of Employment Kris Peeters’ reform project for ‘Workable Work’ is needed to go much further to succeed in modernizing regulations that date back to … 1971. Annualized working hours, teleworking, open-ended temporary contracts, training aimed at improving employability and to facilitate transition from one role to another or from a job to a different career – these are all lofty ambitions. The question is how will ideas evolve as negotiations with social partners progress.

Of all the HR challenges associated with flexible workforce management, employers highlight three key challenges: difficulty finding qualified workers due to the talent shortage (70%), employee engagement of flexible workers (45%) and optimization of costs associated with the management of a flexible workforce (44%).

New roles for staffing companies

Given these facts and challenges, ManpowerGroup expects the role of HR services companies to grow in importance. In anticipation of this trend, the HR specialist is helping businesses implement Total Talent Management, a workforce management system that integrates all types of workers, regardless of the type of contract they have with their employer. The goal is to remove the complexity – and simplify!

Anticipating the acceleration of digital transformation, ManpowerGroup has redefined its own recruitment model and is remodelling its branch network. The high street branch is giving way to recruitment centers, bringing together the Group’s different business units as part of a collaborative model. Thanks to social networking, individuals have become ‘lifelong candidates’, revealing their preferences, skills and profile. Digital channels complement the physical network and are becoming more and more important. Today, manpower.be attracts 250,000 visits to the site each month and the Group has around 30,000 followers on social networks (a figure that has tripled in one year). Big Data is defining a new paradigm: recruitment was once an art, but today it is becoming a science.