MemoryThe traditional workforce, the one that we all know and love, has until recently been largely composed of colocated workers. By this, we mean mostly full-time employees working in the same building and collaborating on projects face-to-face. Call this “Workforce 1.0.”

As we can see, however, the world — and the workplace practices of the world – is quickly evolving. 

Many modern-day workers want flexibility, autonomy, and independence in the way that they work. Working for a fixed employer on a permanent basis cannot usually give them these things. Many workers want to be able to engage in a more flexible work life, one that allows them to hop from business to business as a freelancer. Subsequently, if employers want to tap into the modern worker’s mindset, they’ll need to upgrade their talent strategies. Employers need to effectively utilize both traditional, fixed, permanent employees and more flexible, entrepreneurial freelancers.  We call this mixture of traditional and freelance employees “Workforce 2.0.”

If you, as an employer, don’t adapt quickly to this new wave, you will be left behind. 2015 is the year that the millennial generation — the most entrepreneurial generation to date — becomes the largest generation by population in the workforce. This millennial generation, now the predominant demographic, have a very strong desire to work independently. Studies show that two-thirds of these workers want to freelance and go it alone, while a measly 13 percent want to climb the corporate ladder.

As a result of this change in worker mindset, it’s becoming much harder to find traditional, Workforce 1.0 talent. A study from Elance-oDesk found that, on average, it takes 43 days to hire talent via traditional means, compared to just 3 days to hire online, freelance/self-employed talent. 

If you want to gain a competitive edge in the war for talent – or simply stay in the game, — it’s time to upgrade your talent strategy to version 2.0 so that your company can comfortably accommodate both a traditional colocated workforce and the new online flexible workforce.

There are several steps you can take to help move your company toward the goal of becoming a version 2.0 employer:

  • Set a target for numbers/percentages of self-employed staff within your business.
  • Identify specific departments, roles, and grades which are suitable for freelance or self employed engagements.
  • Develop a set of best practices for engaging freelancers, and document and share those practices with all hiring managers.
  • Start training your internal managers on how to source, engage, and contract freelancers and self-employed talent.
  • Provide rewards for managers who reach their self-employed versus fixed employee targets to incentivize the right behavior in this area.

Moving your talent strategy to a progressive 2.0 strategy – which can take advantage of both fixed and online freelance resources – will both reduce your time to hire and give you access to a much wider pool of talent for any given posting. That’s why — if you haven’t done so already — it’s time to upgrade your talent strategy to version 2.0. 

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