The Best Talent Is out Freelancing

In the relentless war for talent, freelancers have become a boon for many organizations’ talent strategies. 

And in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of freelance workers has increased exponentially as workers pivot to alternative means of work. For organizations, this means the pool of highly qualified on-demand professionals who are looking for work just became much, much larger. 

While the markets seem chaotic, now is also the time for leaders to redesign their organizations into lean, mean, well-oiled machines that emerge from this crisis far more agile and in far better positions to come out ahead the next time they face an economic crisis. 

How can they achieve this? Through a steady supply of freelancers, contractors, and the broader on-demand workforce. 

“The on-demand workforce offers companies the ability to tap into extensive networks of innovators, technical experts, and seasoned professionals,” write the experts at Deloitte

And with such a brand-new influx of highly qualified freelance professionals on the market, now is the time to tap into this resource. In addition to the myriad advantages that come with leaning into on-demand talent, the fact of the matter is that right now, organizations need to build their flexible workforces, and many, many workers need jobs. 

On-Demand Workers:
A Solution to Longstanding Workforce Problems

Even prior to COVID-19, the odds were stacked against organizations due to the sheer pace of change in technology and workers’ skill sets. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Human Capital Trends report, “53 percent of [organizations] said that between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years.”

This would be a tall order in the best of times. However, in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, such reskilling efforts are no longer feasible, as most organizations have been reduced to bare-bones operations and staffs. What’s more, while the economy may be down in an unprecedented fashion, the expectations of consumers and stakeholders are still high.  

Many of today’s most well-known brands have already incorporated on-demand talent into their strategies for growth to create a workforce that provides both agility and workers with specialized skills. Plus, with one-third of all U.S. workers working in the on-demand economy and 83 percent of survey respondents reporting that they believe that freelancers get more done than in-house workers, according to a recent WorkMarket report, the on-demand workforce has inherent appeal and advantages for organizations large and small. 

What’s more, the same WorkMarket report from 2017 revealed that while 82 percent of business leaders who were surveyed “agree that productivity is one of the top indicators of financial success or failure, only 31 percent gave themselves an ‘A.’”

Why the Freelancer Pool Is a Great Place to Find Top Talent

Highly skilled freelancers contributed over $135 billion to the economy and were occupying a growing slice of the US labor force prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“They serve as a major talent driver for both small and large businesses, and they are able to earn a living regardless of geographic location, provided they have reliable access to a fast internet connection. On top of all this, they are growing, both in terms of overall population and the revenue they generate,” writes Brent Messenger of Fast Company. 

What’s more, today’s freelance talent pool includes a greater variety of skill sets, age brackets, and backgrounds than ever before—all of whom can fill valuable and necessary roles for as long as organizations need them to do so.

Consider the expanding market of baby boomer–aged on-demand talent. Nearly ten-thousand baby boomers hit the retirement threshold every day, which could create knowledge gaps in organizations as boomers leave their full-time roles. Add to that the COVID-19 crisis and all of the management talent swept out of their positions by the tidal wave of layoffs, and this creates even more potential gaps among younger, highly-skilled workers who don’t have the same amount of experience of older generations. 

“Mostly-retired, highly skilled baby boomer freelancers exist, and they present opportunities for desperately needed staff training without the cost of a full-time equivalent position,” writes Jeff Wald of ADP

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How to Find and Utilize On-Demand Talent During and
After COVID-19

Some organizations have been slow or even hesitant to dip their toes into the pool of on-demand talent. But the truth of the matter is that even before the COVID-19 crisis, sourcing the best talent often meant interacting with the on-demand workforce. 

For organizations, it’s critical to find ways to adapt to the current and exponential acceleration in workforce changes as opposed to resisting them. Instead of attempting to stop the storm or build a wall against it, companies should instead “build an eye that moves with the storm,” in the words of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. This, of course, means integrating freelancers into an organization’s short-term and long-term talent and business strategies. 

When taking the plunge, the biggest favor organizations can do for themselves is to shore up their hiring managers with systems and processes that provide quick access to organized data. After all, the on-demand workforce’s biggest strength (and weakness) is variety, which can make integrating these workers into a company’s system that much trickier. 

“With so many workers available, it’s possible to find virtually any skill set, but tracking critical freelancer statistics and outcomes can quickly overwhelm organizations,” writes Jeff Wald of ADP

The best way to ensure recruiters and HR leaders can keep up with these demands is by engaging with solutions like freelance management systems, where hiring managers can track information around freelance workers and candidates. Platforms like these promote a far quicker, easier, and more streamlined process. 

The future of the on-demand workforce is in the details. Enabling your organization to collect and leverage information around project management, performance, hiring, on-boarding, and more empowers you to find the best candidates—all while maintaining security and streamlining your operations. Contact a representative from Stoke today to learn more. 

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