3 Ways Agile Talent Keeps Your Company Competitive

3 Ways Agile Talent Keeps Your Company Competitive

SEP 30, 2019

Top tier talent may not want to work for your company.

Don’t take it personally. Top tier talent increasingly doesn’t want to work for any company. They want to work for themselves.

The good news is, you can still recruit the best to work with you in a way that is more effective and efficient for you and your company.

Agile talent, contingent workforce, freelancing in the gig economy…whatever you call it, we’re talking about the same mega-shift to our workforce: people are increasingly working, not as employees of a single company, but as contractors who address companies’ specific needs.

Historically, we’ve seen this kind of arrangement primarily in administrative or seasonal work, most notably supported by temporary agencies. Today, agile talent touches every part of an organization, including the C-suite.

It is estimated that 30-40% of full-time workers today are agile, an entire one-third of our workforce. This growth didn’t just happen. The boom in the agile talent we’re seeing today is the consequence of three major phenomena:

  1. Working parents are seeking greater balance. Many women, in particular, have found holding down a steady 9-to-5 job to be in direct conflict with their parenting goals, but they don’t want to choose between work and family. Even if a family can sustain itself as a single-income household, many parents don’t want to abandon their professional selves – an important part of their identity. Joining the agile workforce provides professional fulfillment and personal flexibility.
  2. Millennials are networkers by birth who have been raised to pursue their talents while marketing their personal brand. Rather than fitting themselves into a pre-set structure and culture, millennials are creating a professional life that fits them. 74% of millennials say they are interested in freelance work, compared to 57% of workers overall.
  3. The digital revolution provides remote workers with opportunities that once were exclusive to the office. Google Drive is replacing filing cabinets, Zoom has pushed staff meetings beyond the conference room, and project management systems like Basecamp, Trello, and Asana are providing a digital home base for teams spread across the globe.

And now, companies are responding.

Ernst & Young reports 62% of companies use agile talent, while 79% of global executives that participated in a 2017 Deloitte survey rated agile performance management as a high organizational priority.

In a press release for the freelance marketplace UpWork, Samsung’s Head of Finance Innovation and On-Demand Talent Cathleen Nilson shares, “Traditional staffing models no longer work for our business needs. Remaining competitive today means being agile, getting projects done in days or weeks, not months.” She explains how Samsung experienced a 57% administrative time savings and an onboarding process that proved six times faster than a traditional hiring method.

So, how can you put these trends to work for your company?

3 Ways to Leverage Agile Talent

1. Solve interim needs.

Maintain your company’s pace while an employee is out on military or family leave, on sabbatical, or otherwise can’t perform for some time. We dive into this in a previous Inspire blog post, “How to Manage Leaves of Absence Like a Boss.”

Also, consider using interim hiring to accommodate working gaps. Bringing in a contractor when you’re filling a vacant position or to introduce a new role entirely means you won’t be left with a months-long gap in productivity during the hiring process.

2. Accommodate surges.

Accounting firms at tax time. Retail stores during the holidays. Parks in the summer. Many industries have built-in surges when they turn to contractors to address the increasing need for their services. Even industries without routine staffing cycles, however, can experience unexpected surges.

Consider the last time you introduced a new product, launched a company-wide wellness initiative, or opened an office in a new location. Rather than over-extending existing staff, agile talent can integrate with the team when needed, then peacefully part ways as soon as the need for their services no longer exists – with no hiring and downsizing required.

As the name suggests, agile talent can help you respond more quickly to business opportunities that you haven’t planned for. Lynn Roger, chief transformation officer at BMO Financial Group gets right to the point in an interview for Harvard Business Review and SHRM: “Speed is the new business currency.”

Digital innovations mean business is less predictable. Companies must respond to challenges and opportunities quickly to avoid being left behind. Investing the time, energy, and money to build an internal workforce simply won’t cut it anymore.

3. Fill knowledge gaps.

Agile talent is your ticket to diverse senior-level expertise minus the salary and reorganization it would require to bring the person in-house. The team at Inspire includes former Heads of HR from the NFL, Madison Square Garden, Rothschild, and multiple Fortune 500 and high growth companies. Top talent is available in other areas too, through consulting companies such as Early Growth Financial Services (for finance), Axiom (for legal), Ripple (for IT), Martellus (for brand strategy) and many others.

[bctt tweet=”Agile talent is your ticket to diverse senior-level expertise minus the salary and reorganization it would require to bring the person in-house.”]

When an expert joins the team, even for a short time, they’re leaving a mark beyond the term of their engagement. Junior staff can observe and learn from their new senior colleague. The expert often brings process improvement techniques and introduces new strategies that elevate the work of the whole team.

Next Steps For Your Company

By reading this article, you’re already working on addressing your company’s HR challenges of today and in the future. If you’re not yet leveraging agile talent, I urge you to take a step back and look at your hiring plans, retention trends, and outlook. Then, create plans to address both crises and opportunities. Could you be better prepared to solve interim needs, accommodate surges or fill knowledge gaps by tapping into the resources of agile talent?

Prepare your company for the new models of communication, project management and leadership that come with the introduction of independent workers. In Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts, Jon Younger, Norm Smallwood, and Marshall Goldsmith outline 5 areas where a company and it’s new workforce must align to support maximum productivity:

  • Strategic: A clear articulation of what you’re trying to accomplish and how. This includes clear goals, schedules, and priorities.
  • Performance: An agreeable way to measure the effectiveness of the relationship—not just in terms of deliverables, but also as a fit with one another.
  • Relationship: Onboarding is still necessary to effectively integrate the new person with the team.
  • Managerial: How does a manager oversee the work of a contractor vs. a directly reporting staff member?
  • Administrative: The need for clear payment processes and appropriate filing of paperwork.

Are you ready to join the 62% of companies (and growing) using agile talent to set the pace in their industries?

Now is the time—and we can help!