The HR Huddle

HR, We Have A Problem - Extended workforce transparency; unpacking the challenges.

March 17, 2022 Season 2 Episode 1
The HR Huddle
HR, We Have A Problem - Extended workforce transparency; unpacking the challenges.
Show Notes Transcript

Still using spreadsheets to manage your contingent workers?

These outdated systems may be hurting your organization's ability to effectively utilize your extended workforce.

In this episode of HR, We Have A Problem, host Stacey Harris unpacks the challenges and opportunities HR has in taking ownership of this critical, but often misunderstood area.

Joining the HR Huddle are two industry experts: Daina Parker, Vice President of Shared Services at ChristianaCare and the Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer at Utmost, Daniel Beck.

Parker and Beck argue it's time to  stop sacrificing transparency and treating contingent workers like a number on your bottom line. They also make the case for:

  • Why you no longer need to fear or avoid compliance
  • Getting a handle on payment per person, time collection, skills mix
  • Why extended workforce management is the future of work
  • Managing dual-role employee’s access, benefits, and more
  • Getting company buy-in for implementing a VMS
  • What benefits extended workers actually want
  • Why your contingent worker population is central to your orgs survival
  • Engaging workers who choose to remain independent 

Want to learn more about how a VMS can radically transform your workplace?

Head over to
Follow Utmost on Twitter and Linkedin 

Connect online via ChristianaCare
Like ChristianaCare on Facebook

Keep up with the host in real-time:

StaceyHarris - @staceyharrishr
Sapient Insights Group – @SapientInsights

Stacey Harris  0:21
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the HR huddle podcast and to this episode of HR, we have a problem on your host Stacey Harris. In this episode, we're going to unpack the challenges and opportunities HR has and taking ownership of their extended workforce conversation or contingent workforce management depending on what you call it. HR is notorious for either ignoring or oversimplifying the impact of extended workforces within their organizations, but recent challenges due to the pandemic ongoing labor shortages. have placed this topic front and center for HR leaders. Joining me today are two experts in managing extended workforces. She is the vice president of shared services at ChristianaCare, one of the fastest growing non for profit regional health care systems in the US an industry expert who has done it all from HR specialists to analyst all the way up to hrs team leader please welcome to our show, Daina Parker.

Daina Parker 1:24
Thank you for having me, Stacey.

Stacey Harris 1:26
Also joining us to share powerful insights that can help you make stronger decisions for your organization this year. He is the co founder and chief operations officer at upmost, former senior vice president of platform technology at workday, who lead product management and product strategy as workday grew from 15 million to a $2 billion company. Please welcome to the show, Dan back.

Dan Beck  1:40 
Great to be here. Stacey. Nice to be here with you also Daina.

Stacey Harris  1:44 
Daina, first off thank you so much for all the hard work that we know the healthcare industry has been putting in over the last two years we know it has been a lot of heartache a lot of overwork. Not only has the healthcare industry been impacted over the last few years as far as their workforce goes, but we also know that the way the industry has worked has changed as well. For our listeners who may not be familiar with the demands of workforce planning in the healthcare space. Could you provide a little bit of background on ChristianaCare their extended workforce and the challenges your organization's have been facing?

Daina Parker  2:1 
Absolutely. First, thank you so much for having me here to talk about extended workforce. So ChristianaCare has 13,000 plus employees and 128 plus facilities that are ambulatory or ancillary services. Within the community and mid Atlantic region. We also have about 10,000 extended workforce, and a lot of people don't know health care has a lot of different people moving in and outside of the four walls, like community physicians, agency workers traveling nurses, consultants, as well as volunteers and we have students completing their clinicals. We've been in the throes of this pandemic for so, so long, and it's almost been through phases where we've had to change our staffing and pivot in different directions. At first, we shut down services in order to make sure that we were going to be able to provide for the community. We had staff that were sent home because nobody was coming into the hospital. Everybody was sort of scared. We then had the ICUs and other floors really needing support. So we put together a redeployment center, we caught all of our retirees to say if we needed their support when they come back, we had all the employees that were sent home on pay leave to come back in and then that first wave ended, redeployment was no longer an option. Because people were waiting to come in to get services. And so all of a sudden we went into Wave Two, and resources were not as abundant. And so we had to change how we were going to staff that and we started to turn towards agency. We also pulled on anybody who had nursing capabilities within the organization and our CNO put together a program to redeploy anybody that had the proper license, and so they could provide patient care.

Stacey Harris  4:13 
And as a you know, chief nursing officer, right, is that what,

Daina Parker  4:17 
yes, that's correct. All right. I think everybody knows about the nursing staffing shortage that we're having, basically the price for a traveling nurse shot through the roof because all of the temporary agencies were paying top dollar and charging top dollar essentially and you're right and that today is still a challenging issue between bedside nurse and a traveling nurse sitting right beside them working and how they're being compensated. Essentially, healthcare really had to utilize that labor in order to continue to be able to provide services.

Stacey Harris  4:50 
What a amazing amount of both thinking about the numbers. You needed, as well as the skills you needed. And the challenge is, you have almost more contingent or extended workforce than you do actual employees in your organization.

Daina Parker  5:01 
It's just shy of being equivalent on both sides. So we have about 75% contingent our extended workforce. Okay, that is amazing. I want to add one more piece. We had challenges around skill mix, identifying transferable skills and systems is a critical component of this to understand what is the skills that we have in the mix and how do we redeploy them and place those individuals where they're needed the most? At one point in the Omicron. You know, we had over 800 people out of work because they were ill when you have 13,000 People 800 People being out due to auto cron was pretty serious and we were having a 50% positivity rate. We were testing about 200 caregivers a day. So 50% positivity rate, you know, you're losing 100 employees at the same time, you're gaining some bat and we put in new programs in order to really return them as fast as the CDC would allow and also be very safe and make sure that we were keeping our population safe.

Stacey Harris  6:04 
Dan, hearing what Daina's spoke about in terms of challenges and and all the things she's trying to deal with both in numbers and fluctuations and locations of workers. Are those similar to things that you've been researching as well as the things you're hearing from other customers you work with? You manage a platform that helps organizations in this space?

Dan Beck  6:25 
Yeah, that's right. You know, I would say it's, it's really consistent. The nature of ChristianaCare's populations really blew my mind. I mean, first you have this near 75% mix of non employees to employees, which has a higher proportion than you would expect, probably in general, but certainly in healthcare delivery, but it's the it's the tapestry, it's the it's the skills is the nature of the workforce, that they really captivate your imagination, and I think we'll look to Daina to tell us a little bit more about some of those populations because it gets very nuanced as there is a lifecycle for a typical employee within an organization. You can think of each of those half dozen categories that Daina described earlier, having their own distinct lifecycle their own distinct needs, who gets what from a provisioning, who gets a badge, who has access to an ER etc. But yeah, it's very consistent. I'd say the one stat that really captivates my attention, Stacey is that whatever the size of the non employee population is reliably, less than 10% of their working population of non employees is captured in any system of record. So you literally have armies of workers and work getting done in spreadsheets, in different systems all over large organizations. And that really is a market opportunity that we set out to help customers solve

Stacey Harris  7:50 
and I know our third data doesn't and there's different numbers across the market, but over 80 to 90% of organizations are leveraging some form of extended workforce, right, whether that's contractors or labor, who's being hired under a in Statement of Work, those type of things. This is not just a conversation for big organizations. It's a conversation for organizations of every size and every industry that we're talking about. Daina, you put this extended workforce platform as we're calling it right in place to help you manage this prior to the pandemic. It was something I think you guys were working on even before the healthcare industry went through this major transformation. And you would mention that for for that everything was sort of individually done across the organization. Can you talk a little bit about how the shifts have taken place in the pandemic? Did this system help you actually survive the pandemic maybe in a little different way? than some of your counterparts who don't have an application?

Daina Parker  8:48 
Prior to the pandemic, we recognized we needed the ability to view human capital in its totality. We were sunsetting our homegrown solution, which wasn't a lot more than Excel spreadsheets, but it was absolutely a system and one of our challenges with that system was that it was not very transparent. Managers really had challenges on making sure we knew who was still here, who was being on boarded. And one of our main goals was to make sure that we provided transparency and that we made this really simple. And as we got into it, our extended workforce even really broad. Our students, for example, had a whole other process around it, of how we were going to get them into our systems and make them go through the proper channels collect the right information that we needed. For their clinicals versus how we were going to allow somebody access or provisioning to our systems from an agency. How do we make sure that when somebody is here, they have the right access, and when they're not here anymore, that we turn off that access? One of our additional challenges that we had in our systems implementation was that we have over 1000 extended workforce that actually worked for us too. So they have dual roles. example we have patient care techs that are attending nursing school, so they're coming in to do their clinicals. We have community providers that want to upkeep maybe acute care skills, and so they come into moonlight in our facilities as providers. We have people that might work in it that decide they're also an EMT on the side. The challenges that we have are how do we keep track of multiple roles and utmost had a system that we implemented had a single worker component that allowed for dual roles and allowed us to keep track? A big issue, right that we always need to be conscientious of, is when you leave our employment from maybe employee or contingent workforce. We don't want to impact the other security access to systems and facilities that you have for the other role. You always want to make sure a provider who is maybe going out and having their own practice or already has their own practice and is leaving us as an employee. They could be in the elevator going up to perform surgery, and we want to make sure that their system access stays intact so that we don't impact patient care. Now that we have a system implemented, we're able to gain insights into the data around our population is there knowing 20% of our nurses are traveling nurses. That's a big thing for us. I don't think we had line of sight of that before. Now. We're able to really understand how we're using labor what labor is inside the four walls, and we've implemented an MSP provider to centralize all the vendors that we were using for all of our agency labor.

Stacey Harris  11:40 
That's a huge number 20% Right. And so not only were you able to maybe move a little bit faster, it sounds like but you're also thinking differently about your workforce now, right? Because you know, the data is what I'm hearing, correct? Yes, that's

Daina Parker  11:52 

Stacey Harris  11:53 
You're putting a business hat on at the same time is thinking about the skills the same time to think about the what we would consider HR challenges in many cases, but they're really enterprise challenges about everything that an organization is making decisions about. Dan, you've been in this industry for a long time. I've always been impressed with the fact that you weren't always just thinking about what HR or really what anybody was needing from their HR data today, but what the horizon might look like what they might need going forward. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, this shift from spreadsheets and individual point solutions to maybe combining that data into a single platform? What is it that you think that that is different about organizations or need to think about their extended workforces, and why aren't the current vendor management systems as we think about them, right, meeting those needs right now.

Dan Beck  12:41 
Every time someone says, you know, you've got great expertise, you run the risk of sounding really old, but I will take the compliment there, Stacey, and I think data is too polite to say this about herself. But essentially, she implemented a new enterprise grade system for her extended workforce mid pandemic, which is really an amazing accomplishment given everything else that she and her team have going at ChristianaCare. But to your question, I'd say you have to go the origin story of this market, which is really quite interesting and is very different than where we are today. For those of you listening to this podcast that are old enough to remember the y2k challenge, backup in your mind to when we were all running around trying to go from two digit date strings to four digit date strings. So, you know, year year century century,

Stacey Harris  13:30 
has taken us back a little ways just so you know. They get us back.

Dan Beck  13:34 
I know you've done a great deal for a y2k shelter in the backyard if you if you're so inclined. But what happened in that period that was the origin story of the vendor management system market, which was because the consultants and the technical resources primarily in big banks and folks that needed to update their mainframe systems and others you know, I can I get some COBOL programmers in here. They were increasing their bill rates by astronomical amounts to x 3x 5x was not uncommon. And so the leaders of these primarily financials to say like this is unacceptable. We need to do something we need to solve this y2k challenge, but we need to do something to control these rates. And Varian, the vendor management system was born. The V and V ms says it all it's about cramming down vendors who are bringing you contingent workers to do certain projects. And it was purely a cost kind of spend management exercise less of a talent exercise less well, let's get work done exercise. That's the origin story for the two market leaders today in this space SAP Fieldglass and Beeline like they started in 98 and 99, respectively. That was the origin story and that was about 2% of the global working population. Fast forward today, approaching half of the global working population. 47% According to Arden partners is composed of non employee labor. And you just heard Daina describe their vastly interesting populations. And that's like 75% of their population, right compared to employees. And so the the nature of I'd say this market has evolved to the point that to back to your question to the point that the systems designed to cram down rates in circa 1999 for a 2% sliver of the working population really weren't designed for what's happening today. Travelers, physicians, you name it in healthcare and Daina's case. No, we just had a customer go live with 34,000 extended workers two weeks ago, across 80 countries. I mean, it's every aspect of work getting done companies are not just kind of complemented by non employees, they're dependent upon non employee labor. And that's what's really different. Now, it's about getting work done. Now, it's about prosecuting your business or signing more and more executives like Daina that are having the right mindset say wait a second. Is 75% of my working population is not employee. Should I pay attention to that? That's why I love this podcast, HR. We have a problem, right? You're the chief people officer. Did you know half your working population or more or non employee should you pay attention to them?

Stacey Harris  16:11 
And we've been talking about this for a while right this issue with the fact that HR doesn't feel like they want to take ownership of this right. One of the things that I'm floored about, Daina, that Dan just mentioned is that you've managed to do this implementation, the middle of the pandemic, right, like I think just just saying that a couple of times is probably important. As an HR professional, can you give some idea to the audience about one How did you get the organization to basically buy into the fact that this needed to be a central conversation? And what were some of the lessons you learned? Because I know this is a scary topic for a lot of HR professionals, right.

Daina Parker  16:48 
You know, I think the pivot point for us on going after our extended workforce was systems, our system that was homegrown was being sunset. And so that was the entry point for us. And as we got into really understanding what was involved in our extended workforce, and as I said a little bit before, the broad base of how many and the different experiences we needed. It's sort of like peeling back an onion. As we peel back a layer, we start to understand it and we start to have a conversation around it. And that was how we implemented a team that is now the business liaison between our MSP provider and our managers. To fill a gap that we weren't necessarily aware of before. There's even more that comes in, you know, talking with Financials, how is this impacting our labor? how is this impacting total cost of care? There's a lot of little pieces that we're trying to understand and I want to say we're getting buy in incrementally. This isn't like one big conversation. And we're deciding a whole roadmap, this is an ideal state that we want to be in future instantly. And then as we're charting out the path towards that understanding how we need to move and shake in order to get to that vision.

Stacey Harris  18:05 
Wow, that's an amazing story. Think of both collaboration and business savvy is what I would say right? It's interesting on our data set, we asked a question about what percentage of organizations are using their HR technology to make informed business decisions right and most organizations right now we're running about 50 to 60%. Healthcare is at 71%. And this is the type of thing I think that really lends itself to that kind of informed business conversation, right? If you have senior leaders asking those tough questions and you've got the data, all of a sudden you're at the table in a different way. Dan, was she mentioned a couple things that were sort of how she got buy in from the organization. But I do think we have to be honest in this conversation about the fact that HR even oftentimes when they know this is an important topic, we'll relegate it to an audit function or to a a vendor buying department right. Can you talk a little bit about the laws and regulations and how you seen the HR function? They feared it or or been concerned about it so they haven't done it? Is that fear valid and how does a whether it's a technology or processes help them address that? Fear?

Dan Beck  19:15 
What's the phrase that kids would say like nobody wants to play a game they're going to lose? Nobody wants to take on a problem that's like a dumpster fire that doesn't have a solution. Right? People are turns out kind of busy with their day jobs. And certainly with the pandemic social justice, like HR executives have been under pressure say in earnest for last two, two and a half years in unique and novel ways. However, I do think the best senior execs in HR are partners to the business. And so you find execs like Danny who say look, this is not about the employee lifecycle. If 75% I've got this giant population of 10,000, give or take, like, don't they matter? Aren't they costing us money? You know, you mentioned the chief nursing officer, you mentioned that a CFO like these are the upper level discussions, you start saying well, what are we doing with our workforce writ large, but yeah, back to compliance and legal concerns. This is one of the number one reasons that companies are reticent to embrace their extended workforce, because they say are not going to face co employment rules. Am I going to get in trouble. If you're in the UK, you're talking about ir 35 which among other legislation has, you know pay parity checks that are required? But you know, our perspective on this is like the genies out of the bottle, right? There's there's no point where ChristianaCare is going to wake up tomorrow and say, you know, what, if only we made everybody an employee of ChristianaCare. This turns out a lot of those 10,000 workers they don't actually want to be employed by ChristianaCare. They've got a valuable skill set to run in their own small business. They want to work for many players, and they are hugely important to care delivery. You know, our philosophy on this is we need to empower ChristianaCare we empower our customers with very proactive compliance checks, audits, we have some we call the anomaly engine because it's a it's an ever changing tapestry. I'm here in California, we've got the California data privacy regs, there's new timing, Tam timeout, kind of meal break requirements for certain categories of labor. And so back to my earlier statement about the life cycle of non employees. It is very doable, but you need some software to help we believe need some software to help make sense of that lifecycle. And are you staying on the right side of the always changing regulations? It's like what's the ostrich you can put your head in the sand to say, This isn't happening because I would bet any amount of money for any any large organization listening this podcast that they are like most companies we've engaged with, and we are engaged with some of the best brands in the world, and they have a 90% blind spot on their non employee population. It's time to address it and what a great opportunity for that HR executive to have an even bigger seat at the table.

Stacey Harris  21:57 
Completely agree here because you know, not only do we see that HR, I think, you know, for big companies, right? Like this is a real numbers conversation, but for small companies is a bit of a survival conversation too. Right? Like I know here at Savion insights. We basically manage to keep our organization running because of the extended workforce that we have. We have experts who we hire to help us make sure that you know saving insights continues to move forward in the industry in the market. Every small business has that challenge right now because we can't hire enough people to do the jobs. Daina media really good conversation. And I'd love to hear both of your thoughts on this is, you know, we talk a lot about savings and improving the quality of the relationship between the extended workforce and the employees that we have. But there's also this conversation about the skill sets and that there are a lot of talented people who have chosen not to be in a standard employment arrangement. And you have that especially in the healthcare industry. Can you maybe talk a little bit about the people who are choosing this kind of extended workforce as their career and how you need to maybe treat them a little bit more like talent instead of the number on a bottom line? Right.

Daina Parker  23:15 
I think we're in the infancy stages of that, but I think it's here to stay. So as Dan sort of alludes is this idea that people are choosing to become independent. I'm going to add another component to this which is remote has made that even more possible than ever, when we talk about how are we going to incorporate this extended workforce and what it might look like people have more options than they've ever had before. They can go out and independently become a traveling nurse and sell their services. They can go to a provider or temporary agency and depending on what they're willing, just to sort of what the trade offs that they're willing to take, offer this much more flexible thought process of how they want to work. And I think we're gonna see more of that not less of it. And I think there's actually generations like a generational component of people want to work differently. And the idea of working for company long term isn't necessarily for everyone. And how are we going to capture that workforce in order to to really meet the demands of the business that we have, and remote makes that more accessible and more challenging for retention?

Stacey Harris  24:30 
Yeah, yeah. Without a doubt, Dan, any thoughts on this idea of and gauging a workforce that is is choosing and broadly choosing to be extended at this point, right. I think

Dan Beck  24:40 
it makes the opportunity even greater. The McKinsey Global Institute would say that there are 100 million professional freelancers globally and growing quite rapidly. You know, if you look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics of like, duration of employment as an you know, how many jobs will a typical grad from high school or college have in their career? You're up to 13 trending up from five when I came out of college, and so, you start to look at okay, so, you know, 1315 two years stands 30 year career, you know, what's the difference of a two year 18 month contingent relationship versus a two year employment relationship? So the lines are getting awfully blurry. And what I think is the right mental model on this is, how do you mobilize the best talent to do the work you're trying to get done? And so I think it's really the workers are making the choice for flexibility reasons and the highest skilled workers, you would die to have them work for you. They're unhearable you have a skill set in machine learning right now in tech, you're on the hireable. Right? And yet, that individual he or she they want to go do machine learning projects after project after project after project to keep their skills honed. And they're really good at it. And you'd be grateful to have them work for you for six, nine months. One of the best outcomes probably project wise you ever had. So we think the more forward looking organizations are going to figure this out, want to be a desirable place to work for your entire workforce, be a full time employee or non because that cycle is going to continue, if you can just kind of back up and picture that we are at an inflection point in the next two, three years as a betting person reliably next three years the majority of the global working population will be non employee. So if you can get your head around that and you're the chief people officer at an organization say, Do I want to embrace that? Or do I want to kind of push up against that and say not my problem?

Stacey Harris  26:35 
Well, and I think the balance here is that it can be better for the worker if the organization's realize that they have to have a strong relationship with the extended workforce, just like they do with their employees, because I think the risk we run is treating an extended workforce, like they're not important to us, and then we start treating them like numbers, right. I think there's that that concern in the industry that Oh, well. We just going to have a group that we're not going to give benefits to or that we're not going to do the right things to that we would for an employee. But Daina, what I'm hearing you say is that no, we've got to really treat them the same. It's just they want different levels of benefits.

Daina Parker  27:04 
Some of the biggest benefits that we're now exploring is oversight and insight. So by centralizing and I know we've already sort of talked about it a little bit but oversight, doing that deep dive to understand what are our populations, and then I think we have the opportunity to create different experiences for them and truly start to engage the workforce in a different manner. We also have this insight. We now know data about our extended workforce. Because of that transparency, we have a better handle on who's here. We have the knowledge for example of 20% of traveling nurses, we can now start to put together stories and the other pieces were well on our journey to things like time collection for for them, and really understanding payment per person rate so that we can understand how much is that labor costing us? And how does that translate into our total cost overall, and then start to really utilize that labor more effectively, efficiently.

Stacey Harris  28:13 
I love this because I have people tell me all the time. Well, you know, like healthcare and retail can't do remote. I'm like, oh, yeah, there are areas they can do remote right like that. You mentioned this, thank you because I get it all the time, right people are having that conversation. On that note, I think not only have you guys given us the business case in many cases for addressing this for the HR population, but also address maybe some of the fears that we had in the market. And you talked about being ahead of the curve or where I think the market is heading and I think Dan, you you mentioned it very well. I think Daina you're very eloquent in commenting that the future is this picture right? It is not that this is a pandemic conversation or a healthcare conversation. This is the future of work. Daina and Dan, I want to thank you both for joining us again today.

Daina Parker  29:00 
Thank you for having me, Stacey.

Dan Beck  29:02 
Good to be here. Thank you, Stacey.

Stacey Harris  29:04  
If you want to explore more on how your organization can transform the way it manages its extended workforce, head over to and check out their blog and follow them on LinkedIn at most software and Twitter at utmost HQ.

If you want to learn more about one of the fastest growing not for profit regional healthcare systems in the US, you can connect on and follow them on Facebook at ChristianaCare. And that's it for this episode of HR we have a problem. Be sure to subscribe to the HR huddle podcast and tune in weekly to all of our shows