How can organisations engage external workers? Findings from Deloitte’s 2018 Human Capital Trends Report

This year’s Human Capital Trends Report from Deloitte unveiled a ‘profound shift’ in the world of business. Organisations are no longer being assessed on traditional metrics (such as financial performance, product quality and service provision) alone. Instead, they’re increasingly being judged based on their social responsibility – how they treat their people, customers and communities – alongside their impact on society as a whole. Over 11,000 HR and business leaders contributed to the 2018 findings, with one central message: the social enterprise is here to stay. 

What is a ‘social enterprise?’

Deloitte determines a social enterprise as:

‘An organisation whose mission combines revenue growth and profitmaking with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network. This includes listening to, investing in, and actively managing the trends that are shaping today’s world. It is an organisation that shoulders its responsibility to be a good citizen (both inside and outside the organisation), serving as a role model for its peers and promoting a high degree of collaboration at every level of the organisation.’

The changing workforce

This year, one of the key findings centred on managing beyond the enterprise. Deloitte reports that there are approximately 77 million ‘formerly identified freelancers in Europe, India and the United States,’ with over 40% of workers adopting ‘alternative working arrangements’ in the US alone.

Only 42% of respondents said their organisations are made up primarily of salaried workers in 2018. When asked to forecast what the makeup of their workforce might look like in 2020, 37% predicted an increase in contractors (alongside 33% who predicted a rise in freelancers, and 28% who expected growth in the use of gig-workers).

Engaging external workers

Despite the growing number of external workers, only 16% of respondents said they felt their organisations currently have a well-defined strategy to manage workers outside of the enterprise. A further 59% of respondents said their organisations were not effective or were only somewhat effective in empowering their people to manage their own career.

Sourcing workers outside of the organisation shouldn’t be seen as a quick solution. Deloitte argues that to drive value, organisations must learn how to ‘appeal to and engage with workers of all kinds,’ whilst also considering that many workers may hold less-than traditional views of the employer-worker relationship. Based on this year’s findings, the report details four key areas for organisations to focus on to engage external workers:

  1. Manage all talent

Rather than restricting talent management approaches to in-house employees, the report advises that organisations should extend these practices to all workers. This includes clear, concise performance goals, access to relevant communications systems, and training and support to enable them to be productive and align their goals with the company’s various strategies.


  1. Involve HR

35% of survey respondents said HR was not involved in hiring decisions for contract employees, suggesting that these workers don’t have the same experience as other employees. Deloitte says that these workers may miss out on the ‘cultural, skills and other forms of assessments used for full-time employees’ – despite the fact that they make up a large proportion of the workforce.


  1. Encourage development

The report claims that ‘most employers are currently treating alternative workers as unskilled labour, not as professionals.’ 46% of HR respondents said they’re not currently involved in the on-boarding process for alternative workers, and 55% don’t support training for these workers. Deloitte suggests taking a new approach; involve all workers in the on-boarding process, and provide opportunities for development to enable external workers to bring new skills and expertise to the organisation.


  1. Formalise practices

Lastly, the report states that including external workers when considering workforce brand and incentive programs could be beneficial for both organisations and workers. This could mean ensuring that external workers understand what they need to do to receive incentives, such as outlining goals and targets. Further to this, the report suggests that HR departments should formalise these practices ‘rather than waiting for procurement to do it.’

How does your organisation engage external workers? Do you think organisations need to work harder to engage those working outside of the organisation? We’d love to hear your thoughts – let’s keep the conversation going via Twitter, Facebook or in the comments section below.


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