Nico Orie on flexible resourcing as an HR solution | Flexcast Ep. 1

In this blog article you can read the shortened transcript of our Flexcast the Podcast about #flexibleresourcing and #flexiblework! This first Flexcast is  an interesting conversation with Nico Orie, VP People & Culture at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, on flexible resourcing as an HR solution. 

Gabriella: Hi everyone and welcome to the Flexcast. The podcast that deep dives into the topic of flexible resourcing and flexible work. In multiple episodes, we will highlight different angles by answering questions about the benefits, challenges, trends, technology, and the future of flexible work. 

My name is Gabriella and I’m your Flexcast host. With me today is Martijn Nijhuis, co-founder of Roamler, and our guest, Nico Orie. Vice President People and Culture of Coca-Cola, Europacific Partners. An industry expert with a passion for human resources and a special interest in human resource technology. They’re the perfect guests to try to find an answer to this episode’s question: “Why should businesses consider using flexible resourcing technology to maximise their workforce’s efficiency?” 

Martijn, you are one of the founders of Roamler, specialised in flexible resourcing and you’re currently in the lead of commercial growth of Roamler’s retail department. You have worked together with Coca-Cola on several occasions over the past years. Can you shortly describe the collaboration between Roamler and Coca-Cola? 

Martijn: Yeah. So, Coca-Cola has been one of the first clients to onboard on our adventure. I still remember the phone call that I got back then: “Can we quickly meet? Because you guys have a fascinating offering” – and that was in 2011. And ever since then, we’ve grown the partnership. I must say, till now it’s mainly driven by really helping Coca-Cola understand retail execution, by providing massive insights. And slowly but surely, we’re now also working into the flexible resourcing space to support Coca-Cola in some more merchandizing activities. So, it’s a growing partnership. 

Gabriella: We were able to conclude from research that we’ve done that you’re very passionate about new technologies for HR Solutions, Nico. Where does this interest stem from? 

Nico: What I’ve seen in the last ten years consistently is that a lot of the technology that we have been deploying in the world of work has not actually worked. Let’s say, the workforce or human capital is basically three things. It’s the time that people must work. It’s the talent that people must develop themselves in and it’s the energy that people have.  

What we have seen in the last decade is that a lot of technology that has been deployed in companies has not actually improved a lot on our productivity. And hasn’t really energised a lot of people. So, one of my deep passions is how can we use technology to do good? How can we really unleash, empower the human element of it, so put technology in its place.  

So, I’m still passionate about technology, but I changed from sort of the new elements of technology to more: How can we make technology really work for people? And that’s now my, my biggest passion, I can tell you. I think a lot of the technology is not starting with people. We technology that can really help us in simplifying our work and in driving the things which make us truly human. Now too much of your time is spent on managing the technology monster. 

Gabriella: Talking about technology making stuff better. How does flexible resourcing through platform technology fit into your vision for human resource or capital management in the future? 

Nico: First, I think that if you look at how a lot of companies are organised these days, that’s not so much different from a hundred years ago. Work is sort of organised in jobs. Jobs are organised in a hierarchy. And basically, the whole organizational set up is to control and to execute, right? But people have changed in the last hundred years. So, there is a growing need for adaptability to an individual. There’s an empowerment of the person the person is saying: “I’m sitting in this job, but, you know, I also want some changes and flexibility.” So, my first approach is that I think it’s an opportunity for further flex position and empowerment of individuals. If we recognise, which is the reality in Western Europe for instance, that there is a lack of availability of talent. 

On longer term, if we know we need to create this productivity, then I think one of the main drivers of opportunities is giving individuals, people, more opportunity for more flexibility.  

So, I think it’s a great opportunity and then technology can help you enable that because there are so many opportunities and there’s so much talent coming together. So, you need the technology to match. Still, a very large part of companies will be, you know, fixed employees. Longer term, you need that, you need the knowledge, you need the experience. But there will be a shell around that of people who like to have that flexibility. And if you don’t give them that flexibility, they probably will choose for one of your competitors. So, I think you just must have it as one of those instruments and providing that to the market. 

Martijn: And I think this is very much in line with the journey that we started. We started the journey from an efficiency perspective. But then over time, we learned that the crowd is looking for flexibility. I think what we dream of with Roamler is that we can really offer a gig career, for people to develop new skills and to have access to whatever work.  

Nico: Yes, it will be more hybrid in certain phases of your life. You develop yourself and it will be fit to the situation in your life, but then also could be situations of: “Hey, I would like to step into a more permanent job in a way.”  

Gabriella: Martijn, to what extent does Roamler meet these opportunities? So, this increasing need of flexibility, both on the crowd side, as from the business side. 

Martijn: This is what I also wanted to ask Nico – it’s a tough journey to really convey the message to our, say, FMCG clientele. The first response mostly is: “Oh, you’re not going to take over my field for us or whatever with a complete flexible model”, which is also not our ambition. 

I think hybrid is the keyword, but it’s a pretty tough message to convey. So, I was wondering how do you experience that internally within CCEP? Because you also must deal with more traditional thinkers, probably. 

Nico: I think, again, the best way to influence it is the quality of the people that you can bring in. So, I think it requires try-outs, pilots where people see and experience how it’s working and what type of people you get in terms of engagement and skills and be transparent about it and take the: cold out of the air because of course, we will not fully be that. 

But you also cannot close your eyes for that part of the workforce and again, it’s coming from the workforce, has this need of a bit more flexibility. So, I don’t really want to work 40 hours, five days a week for your company, but I love your brand and I just love everything you guys are doing, and I master the skills and talents.  But then I think we must accept it’s a slow journey. We’re up against 125 years of this model, it’s a model coming from the last industrial revolution. We will not do this in a couple of years.  And that’s why you guys are one of the pioneers in space. 

Martijn: I’m afraid it’s going to be a bit more than a decade because we’re already a decade on it! 

Nico: I think the concept is convincing. But then putting it into practice, like you say, is a challenge. And I think the only way it will happen is small steps and then showing that it’s working, but showing it again from the employee perspective, from the human capital perspective. And if you can connect to key talent, then every company in the end will change because they all need that, right?  

Gabriella: Are there any other challenges to adopting such technology within your systems? 

Nico: I think there’s a lot of those. As a company, you need to define work and worker on a more granular level because otherwise you cannot fully leverage this type of technology. You need to get very precise on data, data architecture and harmonisation. We don’t have that capability normally.  

Another one is, of course, the legal aspect. A lot of the legislation doesn’t always allow you that flexibility sometimes for good reasons, for protection, but sometimes also just a bit inflexible and sitting in the way of enabling people.  

Martijn: We try to explain that to our clients as “you need to start shifting your thoughts from thinking job based to activity based”. And this is always a very fascinating exercise to really ask people: “OK, breakdown down the job in all sorts of very granular activities, and then take a look at those activities, how you can organise those.” 

Nico: What is happening is that the job content is changing so fast that it doesn’t represent anymore the reality of the jobs. So that’s why a lot of companies are going a level deeper and are starting to describe the job in more skills related terms. But what we’re up against here is 125 + years of defining work in jobs. All our remuneration policies, for instance, are all job based. It’s job evaluation, all the salary systems are based on that. All the people are existing in roles. So, the change is gigantic. So, you also there, must accept a step-by-step approach.  

Martijn: Yeah, it’s quite tough. And in our enthusiasm about the company, we tend to forget sometimes that it’s have 125 years of history that we try to reorganise. 

Nico: And it’s still working to a certain extent because it’s very efficient. It’s very clear “okay, this is your job, so this is your responsibility”. So, it’s about execution, which is the big benefit of this model. But the downside of the model is flexibility, agility, adaptability and now companies are trying to find a way and I can tell you, no one has found the answer there without either… you have companies who experiment with agile forms of work. But none of them have truly merged the two worlds.  

Gabriella:Less traditional ways of working also open opportunities for new perspective, such as skill-based sourcing, something that is often the case with platform technologies, Nico, what’s your opinion on skill-based sourcing and what are the benefits of this approach? 

Nico : Yeah, skill-based sourcing is the most accurate way of sourcing. Because the world is changing so fast, you need to be more accurate in your definition of work and demand and supply. 

So that’s why I think the great opportunity is a much better matching of “okay, what do I need and what are then the skills I get in to do the job”, it will create more efficiency. But again, also for the employee better satisfaction because you’re working on the stuff that is in line with your skills. And what we see today in a lot of companies, people are just completely overqualified. 

So, they come in, with university degree and then they get a first job and after a year they’re bored because it’s not really what I want. So, if you define it as skill level and you match it better, I think you also can drive more engagement because people will be challenged on the skills that they’re good at or they want to further learn. 

Gabriella: And do you think skill-based sourcing is going to play a big role in the hiring process of companies like CCEP? 

Nico: I think it’s a journey. Jobs will still be there, jobs will still be advertised, but then the jobs will be described more accurately. And what are the skills you need in the job? And there will be more mechanisms of matching the candidate with the job.  But then in addition, I think there are elements where you need certain skills, where you then could use platforms to match with the external talent pools. So, it’s hybrid. I don’t think jobs will disappear at all in the next 30 years.  

Martijn: And I think the core set of people that will stay in the job, they will have a way more satisfied life because of what you say. I mean the skills match their activities. 

Gabriella: So, one of the possible business concerns we would like to address is the quality of the delivered work. Nico, what is your opinion when it comes to guaranteeing quality through flexible resourcing technology? 

Nico: I wouldn’t know why it could not work as well as anything else. So, it’s just a matter of organizing it. If you have a more accurate definition or assessment of the worker in terms of skills, the activity, and the work I think you’re really ticking that box, right? I think it’s simply a matter of having the right onboarding processes. 

Gabriella: And what does your team and organization, do to guarantee the quality of delivered work, Martijn? 

Martijn: I think the toughest exercise is to scope the activity, to really define the activity and the skills that is required to have that activity. If that’s done, then the quality control is easy. If we talk with clients about an activity that is potentially outsourced to us most of the time is the back-and-forth iterations about the definitions. And again, once we have that straight, it’s easier for us to instruct that to the people that are doing the job. It’s easier for us to validate it in the reviewing process because we stick to the definition exactly. 

Gabriella: So back to our main question. Nico, based on our conversation today, why should businesses consider utilizing flexible resourcing technology to maximise their workforce’s efficiency? 

Nico: Because it’s an alternative way of connecting to a different talent pool. And so, it is for companies an opportunity to tap into a talent pool of people who want a certain level of flexibility, have a certain skill set. So that’s the opportunity for companies. 

For me because with this technology, you can be more granular, you can better connect your skill as a talent with the skill we’re looking for in a company for a specific job. And second, you probably will get more engaged, energised people because they’re doing the work that’s matching with their skill set. And then the efficiency is a by-product. Of course, we always interested in efficiency like any other company, but longer term it will not be the differentiator.  

Gabriella: A special thanks to Nico Orie for joining us during this valuable discussion about the use of flexible resources for a more efficient workforce. Did you like this conversation and would like to know more about flexible resourcing or platform work? Follow Roamler on LinkedIn, where they share the latest knowledge, news and trends about flexible resourcing and platform work.  

Want to hear the full Flexcast the Podcast? Klink here!