Every time an organization needs talent, they do not need a full-time position. Sometimes organizations just need an extra set of hands for a few weeks or months. They would love to find someone who can be a regular extension of their operation. That’s why organizations need to use “borrow” tactics to meet their staffing needs.
Many organizations, regardless of size, have a need for specialized skills. They don’t need it all the time – but when they do, it’s important. Instead of hiring a full-time employee, bringing in a freelancer, contractor, or consultant could make a lot of sense.
In this series about recruiting tactics, we’ve talked about hiring the talent necessary to run the organization and developing talent to address future staffing needs. Today’s post will focus on the third aspect of recruiting – using contingent workers to complement your regular full-time workforce.
The Gig Economy is Growing
According to an article in FastCompany, more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be independent workers by the year 2020. Please note: that’s only three years from now. Regardless of the reason for the increase in self-employment (and there are lots of them), organizations have an opportunity to leverage independent work by borrowing talent when they need it.
But utilizing borrow tactics involves a mindset shift. For years, organizations have associated freelancers as “temporary” or “dispensable” workers. Those days are over. To successfully implement borrow tactics, organizations should view contingent workers as an essential piece of their staffing strategy.
The Advantages and Disadvantages to “Borrow” Tactics
The biggest advantage to borrowing talent is the proper utilization of resources. Organizations can get specialized talent when they need it, at the moment they need it, without hiring a full-time employee. In addition, companies can keep their existing talent engaged. For example, companies don’t have to lose the knowledge and experience of employees transitioning into semi-retirement or former employees looking for a side hustle.
Speaking of engagement, this can also be a disadvantage. A benefit of successful borrow tactics is having freelancers who are available when the company needs them. That’s only going to happen if a freelancer feels connected to the organization. This involves managing contingent workers in a new way.
Companies need to find ways to keep consultants and contractors connected even when they aren’t working on a project. Managers must be able to effectively select, engage, and maintain relationships with their freelancing team. Vendor management isn’t simply a skill for procurement departments; it’s a skill that needs to be developed at every level.
The Ideal Way to Implement Borrow Tactics
While certain industries have been using contingent workers for decades, using a borrow strategy isn’t contained to one type of business. Businesses that have defined peaks and valleys might find contingent workers are a great way to staff up during busy times and down during slower ones.
It can also be valuable to find similar companies that have peaks and valleys the opposite of yours. Helping talented freelancers find other gigs is great for engagement! For example, a hotel with a defined busy and slow season might want to share job openings with a sports arena that has the opposite busy and slow season. The jobs are similar in responsibilities, pay, etc. That way, when your freelancers aren’t working with you, they have another potential place to work.
A tenured workforce is another opportunity to utilize borrow tactics. According to Pew Research, over 10,000 people each day reach retirement age. While all of those people aren’t all leaving the workforce on that day, organizations need to be prepared for the day they will leave. There’s lots of talk about the benefits of doing some type of work during retirement. As employees start to discuss retirement, companies can let them know that freelance or consulting work is available.
The same philosophy applies to parents that might be leaving traditional jobs to freelance and have more freedom. Organizations do not have to lose an employee’s knowledge and skills. It’s possible that employee’s leaving full-time jobs would be open to part-time work arrangements.
Borrow Tactics Take a New Recruiting Mentality
Every job is not a full-time job. Part of HR’s role is to make sure that the jobs created are truly necessary and provide value. That includes contingent worker roles.
Companies have the opportunity to develop a well-publicized contingent workforce strategy that supplies the talent they need and helps with retention. But, it takes developing a new recruiting mentality and treating freelancers as an extension of the workforce.