Some thought the pandemic would come and go, expecting business as usual to return soon after. That hasn’t happened. So, is it now a question of talent leaders learning to live with it and designing a resilient on-demand talent agenda?
Living with change
Talent agendas were all about full-time employment in the pre-2k era. Everyone left school with the ambition of finding a job for life. That changed in the 20 years that followed, to the point that—by 2020—up to 45% of roles in US corporations were being fulfilled by contractors. We were getting accustomed to the gig economy, where individuals filled their pay packets themselves through a series of contracts.
In 2020, that changed too. The pandemic caused most information workers to head home and set up shop in their kitchen, dining room or bedroom. In a somewhat bizarre twist of fate, the pandemic lockdown dragged on for so long that many workers got to like the new remote working lifestyle. They found they could tend the kids, grab a snack, and jump on their Peloton between Microsoft Teams calls when it suited them. Moreover, they avoided the costs and inconvenience of the morning commute.
What followed has become what we call ‘the Great Resignation’: Millions of people, rebalancing their lives on their own terms. In 2021, 47.8 million workers quit their jobs, and according to whichever report you choose to believe, something like 44%, 69% or upwards of 86% (according to jobs and recruitment agency Michael Page) have plans to do so in 2022.
According to Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker survey, 1 in 4 workers is preparing to look for opportunities with a new employer once the pandemic threat has subsided.
If full-time employment is too costly, too inflexible, and unsustainable—does it really make sense to keep hiring permanent workers, considering these roles generally take more time and money to fill, demand higher employment costs and weeks invested into onboarding, only for you to find they’re not the right fit and you have to start over? Isn’t it time to face up to the GET REAL moment and begin treating on-demand talent as the new normal?
Who could say that sourcing talent on-demand DOESN’T make sense if the pundits are right and a quarter of your full-time workforce is about to exit stage left? But is an on-demand talent sourcing and management approach—also called ‘External Workforce Management’—something that’s sustainable, robust, fit-for-purpose, and predictable enough to be a realistic go-forward approach to finding the talent you need?
How talent on-demand works in 2022
The concept of on-demand talent means that instead of employing individuals on full-time contracts, you hire freelancers, contractors, contract workers or other types of non-permanent employees, as and when you need them. This makes a lot of sense in an era when demand for products, services, technologies, and skills can vary so rapidly.
Hiring independent professionals is often more cost effective, due to lower employment overheads and risk. This is largely because the employment obligations generally get transferred to a third-party Employer of Record.
Another key advantage of sourcing talent on-demand is the quality of the talent pool, which means time-to-hire is significantly reduced.
What does it take then, to source talent on-demand?
What are the tools for on-demand talent sourcing?
Vendor Management Systems
At the turn of the century, the state of the art in candidate sourcing was to have an indirect procurement professional employed to source talent from staffing agencies. Over time, these roles were supported by the emergence of Vendor Management Systems (VMS) to orchestrate supply chain processes and the recruitment, governance, and payment of the contractors that were hired.
A popular talent industry trend in 2022 is to leverage brand credentials to build a talent pool of potential candidates from which you can source from directly. This is a long-term solution that aims to free organizations from having to source talent with staffing agencies, saving money in the process.
Talent Engagement Portals
These days, many companies have invested in their own talent portals that allow them to run their own job boards and applicant tracking systems. They offer rich talent engagement tooling that encourages talent to keep returning.
In some cases, such as with MetaBlue, talent portals come with a ready-to-access community of talent, many of whom are readily vetted and available to work for you right away. MetaBlue has over 12 million people on its global database, including candidates of an assortment of backgrounds and geographies.
Statement of Work
Statement of Work (SoW) is a type of contract that outlines project deliverables in great detail, ensuring that work expectations are well documented. It’s a great tool that aligns contractor outcomes to job or project outcomes, rather than paying for hours worked. This approach is advantageous to both parties:
Candidates know exactly what’s expected of them and what it takes for them to get paid.
Hirers can more easily manage packets of work into contracts that ensure jobs get done to the right standard and at the right time.
Making your external workforce agenda fit-for-purpose
Technology can only do so much to automate hiring activities. The subject of talent remains a very human one. That means, no solution that’s going to work for your business can land at your door as an IT silver bullet and deliver robust and resilient solutions without also addressing the soft services issues. So, what are those?
What to consider when hiring an external workforce:
- Make sure onboarding check-lists are followed—for example, that the submitted backgrounds of workers are appropriately credentials checked and satisfy Independent Contractor Compliance (ICC) regulations.
2. Check that the right insurances (including travel insurance when needed) are in place at all times
3. Educate hirers on the brand, company culture, and policy frameworks of the brand. These will include policies around use of social media, data privacy and data protection, sexual discrimination, diversity, communications code of conduct, etc.
4. Managing the transitions from hirer to employee whenever such a situation arises, or the offboarding of hires and exit meetings, etc.
Final thoughts—the mindset change
For many talent leaders today, the Great Resignation has become the unwanted hangover of a home-working party that wasn’t that much fun for them in the first place. Maybe though, this one-time global event should not be seen as the end of something, but the party-crashing sponsor of something new and better. Step into the era of talent on-demand.