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Leveraging an on-demand workforce

June 28, 2023 | by ProviderCFO

As our population ages, the workforce is changing along with it. The baby boomer generation is gradually retiring, while Millennials and Gen Z are taking their place. This shift is bringing new ideas about work and has resulted in the rise of an on-demand workforce.

The on-demand workforce is having a significant impact on American businesses. The number of freelancers has been growing rapidly in recent years, and they now make up roughly a third of the U.S. workforce. These freelancers are often highly skilled and tech-savvy, with 51% of workers with postgraduate degrees now turning to freelance work.

This trend is being driven in part by Millennials. Millennials, making up 35% of the workforce, are attracted to contract work because they want more autonomy and control over their job than previous generations.

A new generation of online talent platforms has emerged to meet these changing needs. These platforms offer on-demand access to highly skilled workers who can be hired for specific tasks, projects, or insights. This flexibility is ideal for companies that need to adjust their workforce quickly and efficiently. Today, almost all Fortune 500 companies use one or more of these platforms, and this trend will likely continue as the workforce evolves.

The on-demand model has several advantages for businesses:

  1. It increases flexibility, allowing companies to scale their workforce up or down as needed.
  2. It enables innovation by allowing companies to tap into a larger pool of creative talent.
  3. It accelerates time to market by reducing the time and cost associated with the traditional hiring process.
  4. It helps businesses facing talent shortages by providing access to a larger pool of workers.

These benefits make using an on-demand workforce an increasingly attractive option for companies looking to gain a competitive advantage.

Ways to leverage the on-demand workforce

Although more and more companies are turning to on-demand work platforms, very few have developed a cohesive strategy for their use. Instead, department leaders tend to reach out to freelancers on an ad-hoc basis without central guidance. But this approach is unclear, costly, and inefficient.

Companies need to determine ways to engage more strategically with the on-demand workforce to save money and better leverage the skills and talent of on-demand workers. By doing so, companies can reinvent how they deliver value to their consumers and fast-track the completion of products and delivery of services.

To successfully leverage an on-demand workforce, a company should take stock of existing skills and capabilities, break down work processes into components, lead from the top down, and get employee buy-in.

Take stock of skills and capabilities

To better utilize an on-demand workforce, a company should take stock of existing skills and capabilities. It can then map those against the current and future needs of the company. This will help identify gaps that might be filled by on-demand labor.

Break work down into well-defined components

One of the biggest predictors of success in leveraging an on-demand workforce is how well a company can break down work into discrete, granular components. Managers should identify the skills required for each component and provide clear direction for completing the required tasks. This enables managers to utilize freelancers more effectively and have them be productive immediately.

Lead from the top down

Internal leadership will be critical in the successful use of on-demand workers. A champion who is committed to driving any internal changes needed to best incorporate and leverage on-demand workers should be appointed. The champion might be the president, CEO or someone else from the C-suite who understands both the potential of this new model of work and the challenges involved in implementing it. Second, managers will need to better document internal tasks and processes for new workers. This should include information that is normally learned on-the-job, because on-demand workers may not otherwise have access to this information.

Reshape the culture and get employee buy-in

Utilizing contract and freelance workers can make some existing employees feel threatened, raising doubts and creating communication rifts. To combat this problem, it’s important to educate your workforce about on-demand work and how both the company and employees can benefit from the additional talent.

Gain employee buy-in by communicating ways employees can personally benefit from the on-demand workforce. For instance, existing employees may be able to delegate some tasks to on-demand workers to free themselves to focus on higher-level work. You may also need to reframe some existing employee roles – encouraging them to step up as coaches and connectors to better work with on-demand talent. In this manner, full-time employees can help identify work that can be offloaded, share institutional knowledge, and articulate team norms to outsiders.

This article is meant to provide tips for better leveraging on-demand workers in your company. We provide information like this as a service to help your business grow and innovate. If you’d like to learn more about how we can assist your business, please contact our office.

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