Designing a workforce for today: How organizations should start thinking differently about talent
On a global scale, there have been major shifts in the way we think about work, the people who do the work, and where the work is done. An increase in the use of technology, the rapid change of pace, and even reevaluating organizational priorities all play a part in this. As business models continue to evolve, organizations can no longer afford to stay complacent. In order to create an impactful and lasting competitive advantage, organizations need to get clear about their structure and make a pivot toward thinking differently about talent and work altogether.
Leaders know that in order for successful strategic execution to occur, organizations need the right people on their teams. The question we would ask is, “Do these right people need to be permanent full-time employees?” The answer is not necessarily. So, what does this mean in terms of talent and how can we think about talent differently moving forward?
First, challenge the status quo
The first step toward pivoting is breaking old habits and throwing the traditional way of thinking out the window. A good place to start is by asking, “As an organization, how can we be successful, achieve business results, and leverage the best talent?” Go beyond the surface here and think about the current structure of your organization. Does it make sense for where you might be today and where you want to be in the future? Are jobs and tasks being completed in ways that reach the goals of the business? For some, this first step — breaking out of traditional ways of thinking — is the most difficult and often overlooked. Look at all the different areas within your organization that may need updating and get specific about the changes, strategies, and talent that can be integrated in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Next, break down job descriptions
Once you’ve thrown out the traditional ways of doing things, take a close look at your job descriptions. In the past, employees typically signed contracts for a position with an umbrella of required tasks and the intent to stay with one company for several years. It wasn’t common to see workers move around to different organizations very much, and those who did were often gig workers related to administrative or temporary positions. Today, this isn’t the case at all.
Instead, by breaking down jobs into different projects, organizations can eliminate the need to always fill roles and hire full-time employees. Leaders need to ask themselves, “How can I break down this job description into its parts/projects?” Oftentimes, when roles are broken down, it’s easy to see where there may be duplication or overlap as well. When you find ways to design roles that will increase the pool of highly skilled and qualified talent, you gain advantages in areas that may have been lacking before and allow room for greater experiences and perspectives.
Then, create a diverse pool of problem solvers
So, you’ve thrown out the traditional way of thinking and doing things, and you’ve broken down your job descriptions into their parts and created tasks and projects. From there, the next question really is, “How do we complete these projects and tasks?” By leveraging the best talent. This means doing a few things. First, consider if there is anyone on the current team who can take a few of these tasks based on their skill set. Next, look to nontraditional talent sources such as the gig economy. By doing this, you are changing the makeup of your team, incorporating both full-time employees and highly skilled contingent workers. Gig workers and independent contractors are people who are experts in their field, serving as high-level interim resources, responsible for contributing to overall business strategy. This pool of problem solvers and skilled workers act as an interconnected team, there to define and solve talent problems that arise.
With the ability to hire expert talent on an “as-needed” basis for temporary projects, gig workers are an ideal resource for organizations. When you tap into what the gig economy has to offer, this is when you truly create a talent advantage.
With the right thinking and processes in place, now is a great time to embrace new ways of thinking and working rather than letting old habits and new fears guide decisions. As a leader, keep reevaluating and adapting in order to achieve business objectives. The talent is here and available. It’s up to you to leverage it to your benefit.
Hema Crockett and Jamie Jacobs are co-founders of Gig Talent.
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