The use of fluid workforces is increasingly becoming part of all kinds of businesses, but industries like construction and hospitality have been operating in this way for decades. Here at induct.me, our work with the construction industry has helped us to find ways to make working with a fluid workforce more productive, more efficient, while creating happier and more cohesive teams.
By a fluid workforce we mean:
Characteristics of fluid workforces are that they are highly mobile, moving between jobs and sites as the seasons, development and demand dictate. At one time, such employees were defined as ‘casual workers’ and as such were often not included in the kind of initial training or induction given to permanent staff. This can be a fatal mistake, leading to all kinds of potentially business damaging situations.
It’s essential that businesses make a point of including all staff in understanding the company practices and ethos from the word go.
Some businesses have the view that as fluid and temporary workers are brought in for a specific task over a limited time period, the focus should be purely on getting that job done.
In fact, induction for fluid workers is of particular importance because you need them to hit the ground running. You may be working to meet unexpected demand and feel that you need new staff to be productive as soon as possible, but putting them on the job without initial induction and training isn’t the route to a fast and high quality outcome.
Short cuts, such as missing the induction, can seriously undermine the quality of work AND actually make the job take longer because the workforce is less efficient. When everyone on a team understands the processes they’re part of and the overall ethos and vision that they’re working towards, they’re more likely to meet targets.
Induction for fluid workers is important for:
Underpinning all of these requirements is the creation of a cohesive workforce. You need people who work together efficiently as a whole, no matter how often the individual members of staff change. Whatever their differing backgrounds, once they’re working in an organisation they need to bring their different strengths to central and well-defined aims and objectives.
Fluid workforces are often highly mobile and likely to be made up of a diverse mix of nationalities and cultures. Your induction needs to take account of this in order to ensure cohesion and a clear understanding of expectations.
When you’re thinking about clarity of language, you need to think about specific workplace language, as well as international languages, and this applies to native speakers too.
Every workplace has its language. Some of this may be technical and you may expect workers in your sector to know it. But don’t make that assumption. Ensure that all technical terms are understood.
Alongside formal technical terms there’s also the unofficial shorthand that develops in a business over time. This could be a number of acronyms that people use or slang terms for jobs, tools, storage places and so forth. If you want your fluid workforce to hit the ground running, they need to be up to speed on these terms from the word go.
When you’re focussing on the business imperative messages for fluid staff, it’s easy to forget the kind of everyday knowledge that really helps build cohesion in a workforce. When you have new people coming and going on a regular basis, it’s important that you establish a feeling of mutual understanding quickly.
A good way to achieve this is to get some employee ideas on what they think people need to know in order to feel part of the organisation. The informal shorthand language mentioned above may well be part of this, along with any social activities that existing staff enjoy.
This works both ways – existing staff need to be reminded that new and temporary staff may need a short explanation or demonstration from a colleague, and that management expects this.
When you’re working with a fluid workforce, induction and initial training are as vital to managers as they are to the workforce.
It’s absolutely essential that you’re fully informed about each member of staff and their fitness for the role, including:
Using an online induction system such as induct.me can be particularly helpful here, as employees can upload certificates and verify experience before joining you. You can also use online training and testing to make sure that an employee’s knowledge is fit for purpose on day one.
Your fluid workforce is an excellent way of finding and developing new talent to bring into the business for team leading or managerial roles in the future.
By fully integrating fluid staff through a carefully developed induction, you’re more likely to highlight and identify additional skills and aptitude that new staff might have.
Fluid workforces work well for many businesses as the business can adapt to seasonal fluctuations and differing demand levels in project cycles. However, some fluid workforces indicate a higher than desirable staff turnover for the business.
Creating a cohesive workforce that feels valued, through induction and company process, can help to turn talented and sought after fluid staff into valuable permanent staff that build your business even further.