Finding talented workers has become a critical challenge for almost all companies, which makes the fact these companies are not leveraging on-demand talent very surprising. Especially, when it comes to tech companies that have been struggling to find the talents they need due to the growing skill gap.
In this article, we’ll explore the concept of the new hybrid workforce and why all companiesshould rethink their workforce strategy to ensure they are leveraging the growing freelance economy.
Just to clarify, on-demand talent meansnon-payroll workers like freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers, and contractors. You should not confuse them with on-demand employees which are indeed employees, but maybe not full-time or employees for a defined period of time.
On-demand talent is an underutilized opportunity for skilled, experienced, and capable workers that too many companies are not considered as they are focused on hiring full-time workers. When you utilize on-demand talent, you’re able to tap into a world of experts that many times is not available to you and you also gain flexibility that the employment model cannot offer.
The answer is you need to rethink your workforce strategy and consider the benefits of on-demand talent.
Here, we’ll explore five business benefits of leveraging on-demand talent.
This article is part of our guide on the future workforce.
#1: It’s Not About Replacing Traditional Workers, but Creating A Hybrid Workforce
First, let’s be clear: tapping into on-demand talent isn’t about replacing your traditional workforce. Some jobs are better suited for full-time employees, and you’ll likely want to keep them in these roles. Instead, it’s about creating a hybrid workforce through a blend of traditional and on-demand talent.
Now, in the post-COVID era, business leaders will need to change their workforce strategy and build a new type of workforce, which also includes freelancers, consultants, and gig workers.
35% of the US workforce is freelancing, and 45% of Gen Z is choosing to freelance. Using on-demand talent is becoming more mainstream. Most people know someone who falls under the umbrella of “on-demand talent,” either because they’re in these roles themselves or because they’re working with someone else who is.
As long as you go into the process of creating a hybrid workforce with clear intentions, you’ll increase the odds that your on-demand talent will be welcomed to your team with open arms.
#2: Using Talent On Demand Lets You Up-level The Quality Of Your Talent
As an HR professional, your traditional hiring initiatives may be limited to the small geographic area where your headquarters is based. If you’re a large enough company, you may be able to relocate talents, though the relocation rate for many workers is dwindling, due in part to the ease of accessing remote work and freelance talent.
By adopting a hybrid workforce and diversifying your search area, you immediately gain access to a larger pool of talent. It no longer matters if the right person for the job is on the other side of the world. On-demand talent arrangements let you access their expertise wherever you are.
By accessing the best talent, all the time, you can uplevel the quality of the talent you have on your roster by working with people who specialize in your areas of greatest need.
#3: On-Demand Workers Bring Specialized Skills And Knowledge
Access to specialized knowledge may be critical to a company’s competitive advantage. Further, hiring an expert often means getting a job done faster than having to train someone who’s just getting started. Traditional workers tend to have a varied skill set, as it helps them stand out to employers and take on more responsibility at work.
Regular employees are taught that skill diversity is the greatest asset Conversely, many on-demand workers are taught to specialize in a particular industry or expertise. For example, you might find a content marketing writer who works exclusively with beauty companies or a graphic designer who only designs for colleges and universities. Having a specialized niche allows on-demand workers to win jobs from companies seeking their skills. It also benefits your company’s ability to fill needs like these as they arise.
Another issue is the fast pace of change for many companies. The skills and knowledge you need to access are likely always changing, and this can be challenging to keep up with. On-demand talent thrives because they keep up with industry trends and help you adapt to those changes as well.
#4: Using On-Demand Talent Frees Up Overhead
Another benefit of embracing a hybrid workforce that can’t be ignored is the potential overhead savings your company may enjoy.
First, there’s your physical space. Using on-demand talent has the potential to free up space within your office. Since space can be such a valuable commodity – especially you for small startups – adding headcount can be difficult if you don’t have space to spare. Connecting with on-demand workers allows you to scale your workforce where it counts: the external talent, not the space. Transitioning work to freelancers or contractors who maintain their own workspaces cuts your costs in terms of office furniture, office supplies, technology, food, and other expenses, which allows you to reinvest that money in the people you work with.
When coupled with the savings realized by paying for talent on a per-project basis – as well as by potentially avoiding benefits and retirement packages – this reduction in overhead costs can have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line.
#5: On-Demand Talent Offers Accelerated Delivery
The complex requirements of most organizations make completing every priority a challenge. At many companies, important tasks are frequently put on the backburner as resources are allocated to other needs.
Outsourcing tasks that never seem to get done allows you to focus internal resources on your core strengths and capabilities while speeding up delivery on items that don’t fall into these categories.
Instead of waiting for a stroke of inspiration to finish these outstanding tasks, consider hiring on-demand talent to get the job done.
One-Off Projects Are Easy To Manage With On-Demand Talent
When it comes to getting work done, sometimes you don’t need a full-fledged staff member. Often, companies need a specific task completed, such as designing a new logo or setting up an IT system. Instead of hiring full-time workers, you might be better served by engaging with an on-demand talent to support your needs. It can be challenging to discern between a project and business as usual for many employers.
Take your time and consider several factors before deciding if a project should be one-off or ongoing: Can you clearly define a specific timeline for the project? When does the project need to end? How many moving parts does the project have? Can one person do work, or will you need a team? Does outsourcing this work make sense, or should you keep it in-house?
If the project you’re considering is a better fit as a one-off engagement, using on-demand talent may be the best approach (though you’ll still need to ensure you aren’t running afoul of any laws in your state regarding worker classification).
C-Level Executives are Already Living in the Future
Harvard Business School & BCG Researchers from Harvard Business School (HBS) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) asked over 700 business leaders about how much they estimate their organization will leverage the on-demand workforce. There was a significant difference between C-level executives and frontline managers (VPs and Directors).
The main reason is that the c-level executives are only focusing only on the opportunity. Leveraging highly experienced and qualified talents to improve the company’s offering and expedite time to market hold no disadvantage.
Frontline managers, unlike executives, are experiencing the challenge of working with freelancers and contractors. Meaning the time it takes to find good talent, the complexity of the digital talent platforms, the interactions with non-trustworthy talents, on-boarding external talent, paying each freelancer with different payment methods, currency, and payment cycle. The list goes on. The gig economy growing and spreading, but most companies have yet to learn how to adapt to it.
The real solution for companies is to adapt their current business models and define processes so they can work with freelancers and contractors easily. The Harvard Business School’s research also points out that HR teams continue to focus solely on full-time employees and are not taking full responsibility for the strategic workforce planning of the company. That’s why most companies do not have defined processes and tools to work better with freelancers and independent contractors.
How Can Your Team Leverage on-Demand Talent
Building an hybrid workforce can have a significant impact on your ability to grow your business, but the problem is most companies are properly managing their employees through HR systems, but continue to manage their non-payroll employees, like freelancers, contractors, consultants and more with spreadsheets.
If you’re planning to build a workforce the properly leverage freelance talent, you need to manage it by defining processes on how to hire these talent, vet them, track their progress, and pay them. The first step should be defining one team that is responsible for your non-payroll workers, whether its HR, legal or finance. Then you’ll need to either develop and document the required processes or implement a freelance management system that can automate these processes for you.
In any case, you need to remember that unless you’ll manage this workers, you will not be able to leverage them in an effective and productive manner.