Why companies should rethink their approach to freelancers – Kristine Dery

Kristine Dery, Research Scientist, Center for Information Systems Research

From Workforce

Companies today need a new approach to managing digital talent.

Gone are the days when they can easily recruit and retain full-time employees to staff every project. When you look at the employment landscape, a lot has changed from even five years ago — and it’s only going to change more over time.

For starters, there is a shortage of talent with the necessary digital and social skills required by a lot of companies, especially in the tech sector. Companies need flexibility to scale their workforce up and down, depending on project requirements. Having expensive talent sitting on the bench is not a sustainable option.

We’re also seeing more interest among workers in freelance work. According to Forbes, up to 35 percent of people are choosing freelance work in the U.S. However, constantly onboarding new freelance talent for every project isn’t efficient.

Companies facing these changes need to become “future ready.” This means focusing on creating an employee experience that will attract the sort of talent you need when you need it. The most successful companies will take a flexible approach to work and workers. Rather than only assigning full-time employees to projects, companies with a hybrid workforce can curate talent depending on their project needs. They can engage people — both employees and freelancers — to both broaden and reinvigorate their talent pools.

But those freelancers need to be part of their community. Just going to market and partnering with third parties to bring on contract workers to fill in gaps won’t build expertise and knowledge.

It’s important to build ongoing relationships with freelancers and provide similar capabilities across a hybrid workforce. Companies like Deloitte and PwC are building talent platforms to enable freelance communities to engage with their teams in more seamless and continuous ways. The way companies build those relationships will be a predictor of success.

To do this companies also need to devote resources to creating a great employee experience. Without that, they won’t have the option of a hybrid workforce and will be stuck in the old world.

Read the full post at Workforce.

Kristine Dery is a Research Scientist at the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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