Building the Fluid Workforce – your success factors for mixing talent
As the fixed organisation chart becomes obsolete, the fluid workforce is taking over. Mixing every kind of talent, from full-time to contingent, from office-based to remote and mobile, delivers a more agile approach to delivering business initiatives.
But it’s a cultural change. In our recent survey among our global consultant base, we posed the question about how businesses should best prepare for the new-look teams.
What does the future workforce need to succeed? Here’s our top findings to give you the pointers you need to build this into your business plans.
Plan for the future workforce to connect with the best talent, more cost-effectively.
80% of respondents say that they are still regarded as a tactical solution, rather than a strategic workforce. This shows a lack of workforce planning, bringing in resources reactively. While there will always be a need for last minute expertise, our data shows that creating a proactive approach to building teams on demand, using Talent Views to build a pool of matching requirements, makes for a more successful implementation. Late projects incur higher fees; connecting to talent in advance allows for better budgeting.
Nearly all consultants surveyed identified lack of clarity as one of the most frustrating behaviours. Without a clear scope, or deliverables, or both. Quite often the reason a project isn’t on the path to success is because of this lack of clarity: throwing more resources at it doesn’t solve the underlying issue. Here’s the sort of experience that doesn’t work for anyone: “Client was unsure what was wanted, project scope changed daily, client got frustrated and took it out on all internal and external staff”.
All projects will have areas that need modifying when they’re already underway; but work with the teams to identify what should happen if changes are made. This is all good project planning and requires both project management and communication skills.
Start with a clear scope, recognise any potential diversions, and build a good communication and reporting plan. This will ease your organisation into a project, rather than role-led business and prepare for the future workforce.
Following on from the clarity of the scope, is the requirement for clear deliverables. 80% of C-suite executives believe that there is a move towards a project, rather than a role-based approach. One of the more obvious outcomes of this is the need to have clear deliverables for each team engagement – it is after all, part of the efficiency of taking this approach to not carry overheads – everyone is contributing towards a clear end point as they become part of a project team.
This is how an experienced Talmix consultant puts it: “Requirements, expectations and KPIs should be clearly defined and the target achievements are clearly communicated and understood by everyone”.
If you’re starting something before those deliverables are clear, then it’s not a project. And it won’t be successful.
Engage equally with the workforce, whatever the source of talent.
One of the much cited challenges in the gig economy is how to treat the gig worker in comparison to employees. While this may be more to do with benefits and earnings at the low end of the gig marketplace, it extends to the high end as part of the fluid workforce. The workforce is only fluid if there is no delineation in how talent from different sources is treated. Once the talent is assembled, it is the workforce – not labelled according to traditional titles and statuses. Learning, development, results are all to be managed and measured equally.
While some independent consultants want to keep the lines clear, valuing their role as the independent outsider, for most, becoming part of an extended, fluid team is a preferable state. In total, 81% of survey respondents were either keen to be totally embedded, or happy to follow a client’s requirement in terms of being part of the extended talent team. This bodes well for the business wanting to just use the best talent, regardless of source. Now make sure that it's well looked after - and communication is key.
Communication – and the wrong sort.
One of our consultants commented that they are too often used as the scapegoats for bad news. Having a communications strategy that relies on external talent to deliver the less positive items, is not a long-term success indicator. Similarly, if talent is to be engaged and embedded for success, as part of a fluid workforce, differentiating between in-house and external resources is going to create more communications problems. Messaging is massaged according to source and recipient. If a project is being undertaken with the expectation of some kind of cost reduction or divestment, then the communications planning needs to take this into account upfront. If the best person to communicate this is from outside the business, then make this part of the project brief and scope.
Moving forward: why the fluid workforce is good news for your business.
The independent talent that responded to this survey becomes transparent in status – it is simply business talent - when embedded into the workforce. Companies have to recognise that to close the talent gap, and address the skills shortage at the high end of experience and expertise, building a mix of talent from all sources is the key to success.
Using talent platforms like Talmix enables you to make connections to highly skilled professionals faster than through any other channel. These connections allow you to build all the talent views to address your current and future workforce requirements – and build the business, confident that you will always be able to deliver on your initiatives.
For further insights from our recent survey, download the Talmix Talent Barometer.
About the AuthorMore Content by Dorothy Mead