Flexible talent comprises essentially workers who are hired by a company on a temporary, contract or freelance basis for projects. It is a trend that is likely to stay and grow in the coming years.
According to Flexing It's Future of Work survey, there will be considerable growth in flexible talent (manager-level workers engaged on a project-by-project basis) over the next few years. One third of organizations will have half of their workforce as flexible talent (tripling today's figures) and half of organizations will have more than 30 per cent of their workforce as flexible talent (doubling today's figures). In the survey, 33 per cent of organizations and 36 per cent of independent consultants rated workforce flexibility as a key motivators for professionals over the next decade. This finding remained consistent across geographies, as 35 per cent Indian and 28 per cent international respondents rated workforce flexibility/work-life balance as the key motivator for professionals over the coming decade.
So what are the benefits of flexible talent?
Specific expertise: Flexible workers provide convenient, cost-effective and specialized skills that are a good fit for the changing needs of the modern workplace. Flexi staffing is especially useful when someone with a particular skill set, education level or work experience is required for a job at hand—especially at short notice. It also cuts down the cost of any extensive training that would have otherwise been incurred.
Greater motivation: Flexible working has proved to have shown several other benefits for both employers and employees: better performance, improved productivity, higher rates of retention, a reduction in absenteeism, greater employee engagement and loyalty, increased commitment, more work-life balance and higher morale.
Saves time and money: Flexible staffing turns out to be cheaper than permanent recruitment over the average lifetime of an employee in an organization. Moreover, telecommuting saves the time and energy that full-time work demands.
Short-term help: For companies that experience seasonal ebbs and flows, hiring flexible workers during busy periods works out well. It suits the employee too, as there is no obligation to continue working with the company once the project is complete.
Employee absences/shortages: Flexible talent makes sense when employees go on long-term leave or suddenly quit.
‘Try before you buy’: According to CARE Ratings, around one fifth of the people who take up temporary staff jobs get absorbed into the organization. Being a temporary worker before being hired by the company full time is mutually beneficial for both the employer and the employee, as both parties get to understand one another and see if they are the right fit for each other. If they are not, there is no obligation to stay.
Such non-traditional roles were earlier taken up mostly by women with the experience, network, skill and resilience to embrace a highly stimulating job while raising their children. However, it now also encompasses the millennial generation of workers who expect organizations to embrace and seek to embed flexible talent wherever possible.
As the use of flexible talent increases, so does the need for more efficient ways to find, hire and manage and integrate them into the company as full-time employees. Talent platforms that directly connect external talent with internal projects and teams are emerging as the leading method for accomplishing these tasks. Flexing It’s Future of Work survey found that with an increase in flexible talent, there will be a change in how organizations will source flexible talent. In the coming decade, the increase in the use of platforms will outpace large consulting companies and relationship networks as the source of flexible talent.
A McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report titled “A labor market that works: Connecting talent with opportunity in the digital age” found that by 2025, online talent platforms “could add $2.7 trillion (nearly 2 per cent) to global GDP, and begin to ameliorate many of the persistent problems in the world’s labor markets.” The report also projected that by the same year, 10 per cent of the global labour force, or 540 million people, could benefit in various ways from online talent platforms; and 200 million people who are inactive or employed part-time could work additional hours through freelance platforms.
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