Learn how to scale your flexible workforce to quickly take advantage of opportunities, grow in new areas and respond to challenges.
The future of work is now, and it’s more important than ever to develop a modern business strategy that relies on building and scaling your liquid workforce as a critical component of your blended workforce. The pandemic has made it clear that enterprises need to build and develop a flexible, on-demand talent pool to be prepared for changing market demands and trends. In fact, a recent HBS and BCG study found that nearly 90% of business leaders expect that working with on-demand talent will be important to the success of their future strategic initiatives.
But scaling your liquid workforce is easier said than done, especially for companies without the structure or processes in place to develop and manage this at scale.
Scaling Your On-Demand Workforce As A Competitive Advantage
When you’ve built your on-demand workforce in a scalable way that anyone in your organization can access, it is a competitive advantage. Business leaders can quickly find, hire and deploy deeply experienced talent such as consultants, project managers, researchers, or even interim executives to lead or support mission-critical projects.
It becomes possible to deploy temporary resources to strategic initiatives in the supply chain, logistics, pricing, operations, product, finance, marketing, strategic planning, digital transformation, R&D, data analytics, or market research — for both high- and low-complexity work — to overcome capability and capacity gaps. This allows for increased speed to market as it becomes easier to find the right people at the right time to help you enter new markets, launch new products or move into new regions.
The rate of innovation is increased and seen through new business models by testing new products and ideas more efficiently without committing internal resources — and by accessing broader talent pools. The increased labor force flexibility allows companies to try new ideas without increasing fixed costs in the form of new full-time employees.
Whether you’re a consumer packaged goods company, a social enterprise, a life sciences conglomerate, a tech startup, a financial services firm, an agency, or any company in any industry, developing and scaling your liquid workforce can help you grow your organization more efficiently.
Understand Your Existing Capabilities
The purpose of the liquid workforce is not to replace all employees with contractors, consultants, and freelancers. The goal is to build an elastic set of skills that can be deployed on-demand whenever and wherever they are needed — and those skills can come from both internal employees as well as external talent.
Begin with building visibility into the skills available both inside and outside your company. This is about more than job titles and salary history — it’s about creating a repository of skills and background knowledge.
Make sure all executives and leaders are aware of all consultants, freelancers, and vendors that all teams have worked with. This kind of holistic and centralized approach to integrating the liquid workforce is important. I’ve seen different teams inside the same company hiring different outside consultants and researchers to achieve similar goals, resulting in 50% to 100% greater costs.
Furthermore, make sure all leaders and managers know what skills are available within the company. Sometimes it may make more sense to pull an existing employee to work on a short-term project rather than hiring external talent.
Find Or Designate An Executive Sponsor
As you may have noticed, companies struggle to develop a flexible, on-demand workforce without a companywide strategy for building a digitally ready liquid workforce. While I believe that human resources departments can spearhead a blended workforce strategy, most companies benefit from having someone at the executive level who can internally advocate for liquid talent as a strategic advantage. From my experience, this person is typically the COO, CFO, or CHRO but can also come from procurement or other teams.
This C-level advocate must believe in the importance of shifting talent strategies to include external talent. They must be passionate that shifting talent strategies is a competitive advantage. But more than that, they must have cross-functional relationships to change how employees perceive external talent, fostering much-needed change.
Integrate An Operational Platform
Managing the on-demand workforce is both like and unlike managing a full-time workforce. To effectively scale an on-demand talent pool, companies must have an operational platform like Liquid that will support end-to-end management. This platform is the key to enabling visibility and transparency, which provides a companywide view of all projects, costs, and talent. Plus, an operational platform can help standardize, streamline and automate the core processes involved in managing an on-demand workforce — a critical requirement for successfully scaling.
Embrace The On-Demand Workforce
It’s time to move to a blended workforce and build your on-demand talent pool. A flexible workforce provides the agility that companies need to quickly take advantage of opportunities, grow in new areas and respond to challenges. To compete and thrive in the future of work, engaging the on-demand workforce is no longer optional — it’s essential.