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by Akhona Bam, Senior Solutions Executive: SAP FieldGlass at SAP Africa

A global study conducted by Oxford Economics found that 44% of total workforce spend is allocated to organisations’ external workforce, with 65% saying it’s important or very important to operating at full capacity and meeting market demands. In the US, external workers already account for more than half of the country’s workforce, while uptake in South Africa is growing rapidly. In fact, for high revenue growth companies, accessing scarce skills is the number one business trend impacting their organisation, with 91% of executives saying the external workforce will be critical to sourcing scarce skills in the next three years.

Losing sight of your most important asset

However, as the adage goes: you can’t manage what you can’t measure. When organisations lose sight of their workers – whether internal or external – it exposes them to a range of risks including underperformance, elevated costs, loss of competitiveness and possible reputational damage. And while workers are adopting a more flexible and fluid approach to employment en masse, many organisations have been slow to adapt to the changing workplace dynamic.

Many organisations lack even the most basic insights about their external workers, including their rates, responsibilities, duration of contract, quality of work, compliance and level of access to systems and confidential information. In fact, less than half the respondents in the Oxford Economics study felt they were “highly informed” of such matters. When workers are working remotely from various geographic locations and time zones, these risks are exponentially greater.

Turning to tech

To improve visibility over their most critical business asset – their workforce – organisations are turning to technology solutions that enable them to have a full view of external workers. Solutions such as SAP Fieldglass equip organisations with a full view of external workers, from onboarding to daily management and their exit. Such solutions help organisations ensure compliance among external workers, tracks their performance, keeps a record of payments and remuneration, and ensures a smoother onboarding and offboarding experience.

More importantly, it helps companies build accurate profiles of each external worker’s strengths, alignment with company culture, ability to collaborate, and leadership style that can inform future projects and hires. These insights enable organisations to engage with external workers in a personalised and meaningful way, providing opportunities for constant engagement to ensure each worker has what they need to perform optimally.

As the war for talent heats up, businesses will need access to scarce critical skills if they are to remain competitive. Organisations need to urgently put appropriate structures in place to ensure they can attract, engage and retain scarce skills no matter where they are. What can you do today to get ready for this?