A Blended Talent Strategy: How To Develop Your Liquid Workforce
It’s time to adapt our traditional approaches to talent management and shift to thinking centered around a blended workforce.
A New Talent Strategy
HR leaders everywhere are shifting to managing a talent-based workforce that consists of full-time workers and liquid workers. Managing a blended workforce requires a different approach to employee development — you need a talent strategy for your blended workforce, not just your W-2 employees.
An effective talent management strategy is essential for every company to be successful. As companies adapt to meet the opportunities and challenges associated with the future of work, a new approach to talent management is required. The war for talent, particularly top talent, continues to challenge large and small companies, particularly as the freelance workforce continues to grow rapidly. Agile companies are building on-demand talent pools that can be quickly tapped, enabling rapid flexing of resources to meet skill needs. For example, corporate boards and executive teams are increasingly relying on the expertise and advice of on-demand advisors and consultants.
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Blended Talent Management
Talent management needs to encompass attracting, onboarding, developing, engaging and retaining both employees and liquid workers. HR leaders need to adapt their processes and systems for the new blended workforce.
In traditional HR strategic talent planning, HR leaders take the following steps:
1. Understand the company’s strategic direction. What are the company’s goals and priorities?
2. Understand how employees can impact the company’s ability to achieve the strategic direction. What are the business drivers and challenges?
3. Complete a talent assessment and gap analysis. What skills are needed to achieve the company’s goals? Do we have the breadth and depth of skills and experiences required? What are the near-term versus longer-term requirements?
4. Enable talent management through the support of workflows (e.g., onboarding, performance management), software systems, and training and professional development. What HR support is required for managers to lead and develop teams successfully? What HR support is needed for employees to be successful?
5. Evaluate success through “SMART” (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) KPIs and metrics. What will indicate the success of your talent management strategy?
These same steps can be adapted to incorporate a blended talent management approach. As you think through your talent assessment and gap analysis, consider where you have near-term versus long-term needs. Does your company need a surge in one area to scale new capabilities or a new business line quickly? Does your workforce have a digital-readiness gap? Is there an area that needs fluid resources that can ramp up and down as needed? Addressing questions like these as part of your talent assessment will help you develop your blended strategy and determine where liquid workers are best utilized.
Growing And Retaining Blended Talent
However, standard processes and systems cannot be used as-is when you expand from a traditional workforce to a blended workforce. Processes and systems need to be adapted or rethought to be effectively utilized for liquid workers. For example, to de-risk compliance issues, companies should separate employees and contractors into different systems for management and payment. Likewise, onboarding processes will be different for freelancers, emphasizing contractual elements (such as the master services agreement, statement of work and nondisclosure agreements) and enabling the freelancer to hit the ground running from the moment onboarding is completed. KPIs must also be adapted and focus on areas like project success rates and freelancer performance ratings.
Once you know what liquid talent you need as part of your blended workforce, you can focus on growing and developing that talent pool. Talent can be sourced through referrals from your professional network, recommendations from other workers and online talent platforms.
Innovative leaders will build their company a database of vetted liquid workers. Freelance and on-demand talent should be identified and sourced based on the identified needs from the assessment and skills gap analysis. Use trial projects to evaluate and assess liquid talent, and make sure that performance reviews are ongoing by collecting feedback and ratings for every worker with each project. Give thought to retention strategies and programs that specifically consider how to retain the best liquid talent. For example, some companies may provide back-end profit participation, equity or performance bonuses.
For leaders and companies that are ready to address the future of work, focusing on a blended workforce talent strategy will allow you to become more nimble and agile in achieving your company’s goals. The future of work is more than remote work, and it’s time to adapt our traditional approaches to talent management and shift to thinking centered around a blended workforce.
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Category: Human Resources Industry Trends
Updated: October 12, 2020
Quick note: This is not to be taken as tax advice or legal advice or payroll advice. Since tax rules and laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a CPA / tax advisor and/or attorney for specific guidance.