We live in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world that continues to be reshaped dramatically by a host of disruptive digital technologies. Industries and business models are getting transformed, and consumers increasingly expect products and services on demand. Adapting quickly to this uber-dynamic landscape is the key, for both individuals and organizations.
A crucial aspect of the agility imperative, from organizations’ standpoint, is talent management. For companies to stay relevant and competitive, they have to ensure their workforce is nimble and responsive to customer demands. Constant reskilling and upskilling, in alignment with evolving business goals, is no longer an option but an absolute must for employees. Enterprises that can facilitate this, without sacrificing the requisite flexibility and efficiency in managing their workforce, will have an edge.
Changing employee expectations
Employees, particularly millennials, today wish to work wherever and however they want. They also expect organizations to provide a conducive atmosphere where they can quickly pick up new skills and expertise relevant to their short-term and long-term career goals.
The trend of workers seeking instant gratification will likely accelerate as the “gig economy” gets stronger amid persisting economic volatility and growing impact of automation and other digital technologies. The number of contingent workers, as a percentage of the overall organizational headcount, rose to 22%, the SIA 2016 CW Buyers Survey showed. And, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the ratio of full-time employees to on-call workers to decline to 60: 40 over the coming decade.
Moreover, workers are now keen on doing different kinds of work that excite them, as they progress in their careers, rather than merely doing what employers expect them to do. Accordingly, they want to build the requisite capabilities by getting exposure to a wide range of assignments, rather than remaining with one company.
How can employers respond?
Given these realities, companies must fundamentally reimagine how they manage, empower and incentivize talent. People expect greater career mobility, and therefore, organizations should make it easier for them to work flexibly, and take on a broad, diverse array of assignments.
Of course, companies, while doing so, have to make sure they continuously replenish their organizational capabilities across various functions. In some cases, enterprises will have to recruit workers with specialized skills, and on other occasions, train existing employees in acquiring new expertise. This will require a significant reform of prevalent processes and policies that were designed for work done by permanent staff. Organizations must develop flexible approaches toward talent agility, in order to offer compelling avenues for workers to perform at their peak levels.
To begin with, companies should assess their hiring requirements for specific projects, and decide on the best-fit execution approach from a talent requisition standpoint. If the existing pool of workers can deliver what’s needed–in time, and within the budgeted costs–then great. Otherwise, they should actively consider on-demand workforce mobilization through the deployment of specialist freelancers. Industries such as health care, education, finance, IT, architecture and engineering that are currently grappling with substantial skill shortages need to aggressively look at adopting a contingent workforce strategy.
Alternatively, companies might explore a hybrid talent management approach wherein they harness the benefits of having freelancers on board alongside employing loyal, full-time employees. A case in point is Intel’s Freelance Nation program that lets staff who have signed up to take up work on a project basis and negotiate their schedules. By combining job stability with freelance autonomy, the initiative seeks to foster empower workers and make them more adaptable to changing business needs.
Organizations also need to promote talent mobility by assigning skilled workers to relevant projects across different locations worldwide. Doing so will not only ensure timely and cost-effective completion of projects but also boost employee satisfaction and talent retention levels.
In tandem, companies should also institutionalize a learning management platform that can provision project-specific learning modules on demand.
The ability to continuously replenish organizational skills in line with evolving business objectives will be a vital determinant of competitiveness going forward. And, organizations that can manage their talent base in an agile manner will be best positioned to increase staff productivity and operational efficiency.