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Opinions expressed by contributors are their own. The traditional 9-5 workday is dead.
Covid-19 changed the way we work, bringing millions of workers out of the office and into their homes. This introduced flexibility into the workplace: making a once rare-to-find concept the new normal across the world. Now that organizations have adjusted to these changes, their leadership is also ready to take the next step toward agility: blended workforces.
During the recent health crisis, it became clear that organizations need to be agile and adaptable to survive; and the key to this agility is flexible, contracted talent. Many business leaders have already acknowledged the need to integrate flexible talent in their organization, with 60 percent of leaders saying they would increasingly prefer to “rent,” “borrow,” or “share” talent with other companies. However, the road to successfully bringing flexible talent into the organization can seem overwhelming, especially when transitioning from an older, full-time workforce model to an agile one.
The good news is, you’re not alone in this transition. Millions of business leaders everywhere are facing the same challenges. There are, however, ways you can easily overcome them to make your workforce more efficient than ever and bring your employees, both full-time and flexible, together in harmony.
One of the first and, quite possibly, most difficult challenges many leaders face is introducing the initial idea to their staff. For leadership, the bigger picture of how flexible talent fits into the organization is clear; however, for employees, the idea of flexible talent is likely very new to them—and can even feel like a threat to their routine or even role.
When proposing the introduction of flexible talent into your organization, it’s best to address your staff personally: this isn’t something to send in an email or a Slack message. Whether it’s in-person or an all hands or Zoom call, speak to your employees and inform them of any plans moving forward well ahead of time of action. Emphasize that these independent workers are not a threat to anyone’s role within the organization—they are necessary to building agility and helping full-time staff achieve outcomes faster with in-demand skills that employees would typically not have access to. Flexible workers are an asset that full-time staff will have the ability to work with on work or projects on an as-needed basis.
Blended workforces don’t happen overnight: let them know that this will take time to integrate successfully, and there may be some bumps in the road as the organization learns. The most important part when explaining this change to staff isn’t just telling, but listening. Ask for feedback and everyone’s thoughts on the change: through feedback, you’ll be able to determine what methods for integrating talent will work best for your team, and even what skills full-time employees would like to see added to their team. A win-win!
The alignment doesn’t stop at full-time staff: it’s likely your management doesn’t fully see the value of flexible talent, either. When asked about the value of flexible talent matching platforms, 60 percent of CEOs claimed they were “very important” to future competitive advantage, whereas less than 40 percent of senior management agreed. In many organizations, possibly even within your own, there is a clear misalignment on the value proposition of flexible talent.
Similar to staff, management may feel as if flexible talent is a threat to their role or processes. Don’t shy away from this issue or attempt to brush it off: embrace conflict and use it as an opportunity to make management a part of the integration process. Take their concerns and ensure they’re all addressed within the integration process, so leaders feel even more comfortable letting flexible workers into their teams.
Relationships and culture matter just as much for flexible talent as they do for your full-time employees. The traditional office culture of water cooler conversations and conferences are irrelevant for blended workforces, let alone in the present day itself. With the ability to hire from anywhere in the world, both full-time staff and flexible talent can be situated in multiple time zones, or even countries, away from one another.
To build connections between full-time and flexible staff, invite flexible workers into team and all hands meetings: make them feel a part of the team and give them a voice in the decision-making process. Doing so can help flexible workers to feel more included while also giving full-time staff the opportunity to get to know new team members in a supportive setting. Recognizing achievements and milestones is also just as important with flexible workers as with full-time ones; a virtual lunch or swag gift box can go much farther with building trust than you know.
The value of flexible talent to organizations is immeasurable; however, the road to integrating these workers can seem almost impossible when transitioning from a traditional talent model. Luckily, there are many tactics you can use to easily overcome them by connecting with staff, implementing their feedback, and welcoming flexible talent into your team with open arms.