There is no doubt that the global pandemic completely transformed the way we work. Now, as we emerge from the worst of the crisis, it’s very apparent that the tides of change are here to stay. According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics in the United States, 4.3 million people quit their jobs in January 2022. Many of these individuals had no other steady employment lined up, and instead, were entering the gig economy. This signals nothing short of a talent revolution – and a new significance for on-demand talent sourcing.
Post-pandemic, on-demand talent sourcing tools will go from “nice to have” to “mission critical”. This is because to properly leverage the rapidly expanding pool of freelance talent, HR departments need to reorganise their talent sourcing strategy according to the new state of play. Prior to the pandemic, HR professionals coined the phrase “the war for talent”, and now, it seems that talent has won. Therefore, to attract the best talent, companies need to be more flexible, agile and meet the demands of the increasingly powerful freelance workforce.
In February, Outvise brought together Daniel Callaghan, Veremark CEO and Outvise Partner in APAC; Mary Glowacka, Head of the Centre of People Excellence at Preply; and Outvise Founding Partner, Alex Collart. All with significant experience in HR and work tech, these experts discussed how next-generation tools will change the way we source talent.
With a lively Q&A, it’s certainly worth a watch. Follow the link below to watch the webinar on our YouTube Channel, or, for the key takeaways, keep reading.
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How is the gig economy reshaping HR strategy?
By now, the gig economy isn’t a new phenomenon. Daniel, for instance, founded Talmix, Europe’s first high-end online talent platform over ten years ago now. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the gig economy is entering a new era. The pandemic has prompted a watershed moment where professionals globally are reappraising their priorities and lifestyles, and subsequently, pouring into the freelance market. This is what we mean when we say that talent has won the “the war for talent” – It’s talent that’s calling the shots on when, where, and how they want to work.
However, the gig economy isn’t in a phase where it’s reshaping HR strategy per se, rather augmenting it. Those that are ahead of the curve are using gig workers to complement full-time employees, creating dynamic, productive teams. As leading enterprises begin to organise themselves around projects as opposed to traditional hierarchical structures, the flexibility of freelancers reflects this more agile structure. Like these projects, freelancers are contracted for a fixed period with a start and finish, and meanwhile, the arbiter of performance has shifted from “hours at the desk” to deliverables.
Moreover, openness to gig workers means that companies can tap talent that wouldn’t otherwise be interested. In light of the fact that the corporate world is haemorrhaging talent to the freelance market, not engaging with this world could exclude up to a third of the talent that would otherwise be available. This is particularly the case when it comes to younger talent, who are demonstrating an increasing preference for the freelance lifestyle.
What tools do recruiters use to find freelance candidates?
So, if talent is indeed calling the shots, how do you source talent in the expanding freelance market? This is where digital on-demand talent sourcing tools come to the fore. These online communities allow recruiters to rationalise the talent pool through pre-certification and intelligent project matching algorithms. Outvise, for example, uses AI in order to match projects with relevant professionals according to various criteria, cutting the recruitment process from a matter of months to days.
Talent sourcing platforms can bring down further barriers, allowing companies to engage with talent across borders. This means that companies can access talent whenever and wherever, ensuring there are no obstacles between them and the best person for the job. It can also facilitate a skills-based approach to opportunities, where experience is prioritised over education or professional networks. This can further expand the talent pool, allowing them to pinpoint quality applicants for niche roles.
How can these freelancers onboard and engage efficiently?
Once the freelancer has been identified, a common question employers have is how to onboard and engage them quickly and effectively. This is where, once again, work tech and talent platforms can play a major role. Services like Veremark, for example, can substantially speed up the background check and verification process. Equally, on-demand talent platforms like Outvise are curated communities – which means the background checks are done before they join the community. This means that employers can be confident in their hire’s experience.
Meanwhile, the rest is down to a compassionate approach to HR. It’s important that freelancers feel part of a community; in order for them to work effectively, there shouldn’t be a divide between full-time employees and the contingent workforce. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to breaking down these barriers, but many strategies are common sense. For on-site workers, this could be as simple as inviting them to company drinks and Christmas parties.
Eroding these separations between full-time employees is also essential to cultivating loyalty between an organisation and freelancers. The attitude that a gig worker is a one-time-only hire needs to be left at the door to maximise the potential of the contingent workforce. This, in turn, dramatically reduces onboarding times, as the freelancer has existing experience with the organisation. These long-term relationships can be leveraged to incredible effect – during the webinar, Mary referenced an acquaintance that had been working as a contractor with a business for 17 years!
This notion of building long-term relationships with freelancers resonates with a key trend in HR right now. Many professionals are referring to “total talent management”, a strategy which aims to maintain engagement with alumni, freelancers and employees on maternity leave or sabbatical, not just current employees. This enables companies to access the best talent on an as-needed basis while fostering a sense of community that goes beyond a business’s four walls.
On-demand talent sourcing platforms are mirroring this principle. Recognising that long-standing relationships are key to leveraging the full potential of freelancers, Outvise has created its Freelancer Management System. This enables companies to keep track of experts they’ve worked with in the past to maintain ongoing relationships. Meanwhile, the platform supports companies with onboarding administration and any legal hurdles to ensure a smooth landing.
Is there a financial case for hiring freelancers?
Certainly, there is a strong case for freelancers in light of current labour market dynamics – but do the numbers stack up? In short, yes. It’s a question that Outvise gets from clients often and the topline response is that with freelancers, what you see is what you get. This is to say that the cost of the hire is what’s written on the contract: there are no hidden fees. With full-time employees, the true cost of a hire has to consider holiday, sick pay, company benefits, and taxes, to name but a few things that aren’t included in the figure for their salary.
Then there’s the cost of actually carrying out the hire. Using traditional paths to fill a full-time position can take months – and, as the old saying goes, time is money. The resources poured in these recruitment drives are substantial, and when compared with an automated process that takes just 48 hours, the savings are significant. With Outvise, using the platform is free. Service charges only apply once the freelancer issues the invoice, so clients don’t pay until the work is done.
Using on-demand talent also makes financial sense compared to contracting a consultancy company. Perhaps to an extent, this goes without saying – the big consultancy players have always come with notorious big price tags. However, one important thing to be aware of is that many of these companies are leveraging talent on-demand themselves. They’ve seen the rationale and they’re already reaping the benefits; with this in mind, there’s a strong argument for cutting out the middle man if you’re considering engaging with a consultant.
On-demand talent sourcing is the future of recruitment
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the way work was set for big change. Now, the pandemic has accelerated this tendency and businesses have realised that engaging with freelancers is key to accessing the talent they need. This isn’t to say that remote work will completely replace traditional teams. Instead, they will be a valuable source of contingent talent that companies can access at strategic moments. As mentioned, a gig worker isn’t necessarily a one time hire; they can be valued, long-standing members of the team.
On-demand talent sourcing methods will be essential to riding this wave of change. This isn’t only in regard to connecting with talent – they’ll also be essential to maintaining it. With new tools like Outvise’s Freelancer Management System, businesses can maintain meaningful relationships with their contingent workforce. This enables companies to quickly access verified talent on an ad-hoc basis, with completely seamless onboarding.
On-demand talent sourcing is continuing to innovate in the wake of the global pandemic. As these trends and tendencies continue to accelerate, engaging with new HR tools and techniques is essential to stay ahead of the game. To find out more about how Outvise’s platform can enhance your contingent talent strategy, click here.
Alex Collart, CFO & Co-founder at Outvise. Serial entrepreneur and management consultant, with a focus on strategy and marketing. Has co-founded and exited several companies. Former McKinsey&Co associate. Industrial Engineer + MBA (IESE/Kellogg).