The gig economy has undoubtedly been one of the hottest topics trending in the world of recruitment and talent management. As flexible working becomes the norm and individuals begin to take greater control over where, when and how they work, the workforce has become much more fluid. Indeed, estimates suggest that there are around 57 million gig workers in the U.S. – that's a huge chunk of our potential talent pools working flexibly. Whether or not this number grows, the challenge for talent acquisition and management operations is how to ensure attraction strategies, HR tools and hiring teams stay relevant in this ever-changing environment.
Embracing the benefits
While much of the narrative around this issue has been focused on the headache it can cause employers, there's a crucial fact that can often be overlooked – the benefits to firms themselves when they utilize contingent workers. It's no secret that skills gaps are rife in many sectors, with a dearth of tech talent impacting almost every industry at the moment. In such a challenging environment, businesses need flexible workers in order to better ensure an equal share of top talent.
When we also consider that the rise in the gig economy has topped up many of our depleted talent pools, there can be no doubt that employers are in a winning situation. As mindsets shift to embrace flexible working options, those who have previously been unable to enter employment due to their own personal circumstances can now re-join the workforce, increasing the number of active candidates in our circles.
As the growth in contingent worker numbers has picked up speed, businesses have been faced with two seemingly different talent groups to engage with: temporary and permanent employees, also known as "temps" and "perms." Both groups have been treated as separate entities, requiring different strategies and engagement methods. But it has become increasingly clear that the line between the two is blurred almost to the point of nonexistence. The fact is, a temporary role can lead to a permanent one and vice versa. A change in personal circumstances can result in a full-time role becoming flexible, but the experience of the individual in question shouldn't change just because they are no longer permanent.
There has been a growing recognition that these two groups do need to be considered with equal weight and provided with a consistent experience during their entire employment journey with a firm. We can call this a total talent approach to hiring.
The challenge in achieving this all-encompassing solution, though, lies in re-defining the roles and responsibilities of HR and procurement teams. It has long been the responsibility of the latter to source contingent workers, which makes complete sense given their ability to manage resources. However, if we are to move into a position where the type of hire is not a key influencer in talent attraction strategies and everyone – whether in a temporary or permanent role – has the same, seamless candidate experience, then HR needs some control.
While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to how this collaboration should look, given the overlap between the two functions, it's imperative that organizations review the setup of both departments and plan how they can better work together. This includes reviewing the systems in place and how they can be improved, streamlined or better utilized by all.
I have no doubt that the world of talent acquisition and management as we know it will continue to change beyond recognition, but if we are all to stay on top of the evolving landscape, we must embrace and deliver a total talent approach. Strive today to give all workers – regardless of type – a consistent experience during their career journey with your organization.
Co-written by Quincy Valencia (Vice President, Product Innovation – Alexander Mann Solutions) and Michael Hollister (Country Manager RPO – US Saba).