MIT Sloan Management Review – Deloitte Survey Finds 74% of Leaders Believe Effective Management of External Workers Is Critical to Organization’s Success

MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte released findings from their 2022 Future of the Workforce report, “Orchestrating Workforce Ecosystems: Strategically Managing Work Across and Beyond Organizational Boundaries.” The report found that while 74% of leaders and managers agree that effective management of external contributors, such as freelancers, contract workers, and app developers, is critical to their organization’s success, only 30% indicated that their organization is sufficiently preparing to manage a workforce that will rely more on external workers. The report offers a framework for orchestrating an extended workforce as more and more organizations bring in external workers and other contributors to support their strategic business objectives.This report marks the third year MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte have conducted joint research on the future of the workforce. Each year, the research team conducts a global executive survey and interviews executives and other thought leaders from industry and academia. “Orchestrating Workforce Ecosystems” finds that an overwhelming majority (93%) of survey respondents consider external contributors a part of their workforce. The authors propose viewing the workforce as a workforce ecosystem — as a structure that encompasses an organization’s extended workforce with both its internal and external contributors and the relationships between them. To manage these actors effectively, the report finds, it demands significant shifts in management practices, technology and data considerations, and leadership.

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“Organizations today are increasingly relying not only on full- and part-time employees but also on a more expansive and connected group of contributors: a workforce ecosystem. These structures include long-term contractors, temporary gig workers, subcontractors, complementors such as app developers, employees, and others. Orchestrating them requires new approaches to leadership, new technologies, and new management practices,” said Elizabeth J. Altman, MIT Sloan Management Review guest editor, assistant professor of management at the Manning School of Business at UMass Lowell, and report coauthor.”For leaders to see significant increases in innovation and performance among their employees and other key contributors, they will need to change the way they think about their workforce and how an ecosystem can help support organizational goals,” added report coauthor Robin Jones, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP.According to the report, that alignment can be achieved when C-suite and senior business and functional leaders work together, with each playing an essential role that contributes to the overall success of the workforce ecosystem. To do this, leaders must have a broad understanding of how each participant — internal and external — contributes to creating value for the organization.Additionally, the research team grouped its survey findings into a maturity index and identified organizations that are most successful in the integrated cross-functional management of internal and external workers are recognized as Intentional Orchestrators. These organizations are:

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  • More adept at cross-functional coordination, with 66% of them reporting that their organization coordinates managing internal employees and external contributors across functions.
  • More likely to focus on hiring and engaging the internal and external talent they need to meet their strategic objectives, with 79% of Intentional Orchestrators asserting that they will be able to hire the employees their organization needs over the next 18-24 months and 80% agreeing that they are positioned to hire key external contributors over that time period.
  • More likely (91%) to say their organization supports managers looking to hire external workers.

This global report includes insights from 4,078 leaders and managers in 129 countries across 29 industries, and interviews with 19 thought leaders.MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW
At MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR), we explore how leadership and management are transforming in a disruptive world. We help thoughtful leaders capture the exciting opportunities — and face down the challenges — created as technological, societal, and environmental forces reshape how organizations operate, compete, and create value.MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW BIG IDEAS
MIT Sloan Management Review’s Big Ideas Initiatives develop innovative, original research on the issues transforming our fast-changing business environment. We conduct global surveys and in-depth interviews with front-line leaders working at a range of companies, from Silicon Valley startups to multinational organizations, to deepen our understanding of changing paradigms and their influence on how people work and lead.

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