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Creating quality and cohesion in a fluid workforce

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:

  • Staff who move jobs frequently
  • Staff who often travel nationally and internationally for employment

What makes fluid workforces different?

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.

Why is it important?

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:

  • Getting staff to ‘buy-in’ to the company objectives by feeling part of them.
  • Clarity on what is expected of them – standards of work, overall approach etc.
  • Essential health & safety information being adhered to.

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.

International workforces

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.

  • Make sure that you demonstrate clear diversity policies, including such things as dress codes and religious observance (including fasting, holy days, prayer etc.).
  • Ensure that your diversity and other policies spell out at the outset that all staff are valued and respected equally and that in turn you expect the commitment of all your staff.
  • Think about how language differences may affect working practices. It’s particularly essential when it comes to matters of Health & Safety. Initial training and induction must ensure that all staff are clear on regulations and responsibilities.
  • Different countries may have different qualifications for a particular role. You need to hold full information on what a particular international qualification means, what it tells you about an employee’s expertise and ability. Certification may need to be updated to meet national standards.

Getting your language right

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.

Get your staff involved

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.

Protect yourself

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:

  • Certification
  • Experience
  • Knowledge

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.

Skill building

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.

Do you need ideas on creating an induction that makes the most of your fluid workforce? Get in touch with us at induct.me. We’re always happy to talk through your requirements.