South African companies not effectively leveraging the benefits of alternative workforce options

Eric van Gils

South African companies are not new to alternative workforce arrangements.


We have been using contractors, temps and part-time workers with some success for many years now. According to Stats SA and local estimates, freelance, temporary and part-time workers make up between 16% and 20% of the 16.5m working population in South Africa.

It is estimated that globally there are more than 77 Million people who are working as freelancers and a recent Gallup poll found that 36% of U.S. workers were gig workers and had either alternative work arrangements, were part time workers or had multiple jobs.

But are we leveraging alternative workforce options in South Africa as effectively as we could be?

Not according to the recent Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey. Apart from in IT and Operations, South African businesses do not use alternative workforce options extensively across the rest of the functions. This leaves Sales, Customer Service, HR, Finance and Marketing (amongst others) as areas we could be improving our strategic use of alternative workforce models to better support the business needs.

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According to the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey, the challenge with being more strategic in our management of alternative workers is that we need to “rewire” our organisation to move from merely managing contractors and freelancers, to “optimizing” and “leveraging” the alternative workforce deliberately and well. It means creating the right processes and culture for connecting the appropriate talent with the appropriate roles, no matter how the talent is sourced or how the relationship is structured.

HR are well placed to drive this rewiring and start considering the multitude of alternative workforce management tools available to support their alternative workforce management strategy.

Being able to proactively leverage an alternative workforce means being able to engage with talent wherever it is, for as long as you need it, at a price which suits the business.

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