Bolster Your Talent Strategy With a Flexible Workforce: 3 Crucial Tips

Closing the talent gap is a persistent issue for organizations, exacerbated by rapid technological advancements. Addressing it requires a flexible talent strategy that includes utilizing the contingent workforce and promoting internal talent mobility.

Business leader presenting to a group of colleagues in a casual office conference room

Closing the talent gap—the difference between the skills and abilities of your employees and what your organization needs to achieve its goals—is a persistent challenge in organizations. What’s more, with the rapid advancement of technology and the dynamic nature of today’s business world, the talent gap is not only getting wider—it’s magnifying many of the ongoing issues organizations face.

Consider this: the World Economic Forum “Future of Jobs Report 2023” reveals that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted within the next 5 years due to rapid technological advancements, and 6 in 10 workers will need training by 2027, with emphasis on developing analytical and creative thinking, and utilizing AI and big data. 

Although leaders are trying to close the talent gap by implementing skills-based hiring and promoting from within, they should be thinking holistically about leveraging their full workforce, including contingent workers, and looking for ways to flex and move their talent where the business needs it to address key goals and initiatives. 

That’s what a flexible workforce is all about: a workforce strategy that immediately mitigates productivity shortfalls due to talent gaps, while also building up key skills within the workforce to support the business’s key objectives.

To create a flexible workforce that can thrive in any situation, HR leaders should focus on these three crucial elements:

1. Leverage Internal Talent Through Short-Term, Project-Based Gigs

Capitalizing on internal talent through short-term gigs can act as a powerful tool to bridge immediate talent gaps and develop necessary skills within your existing workforce. Initiatives such as job rotations, project-based mobility, and an internal talent marketplace can facilitate this process.

A talent marketplace is a platform where internal opportunities are matched with employees possessing the needed skills. The effectiveness of this system relies on the quality of the matches—they should be personalized, catering to the employee’s growth and development, and actionable for the managers sourcing talent.

This kind of skills-driven matching can yield several benefits. Employees gain new skills from short-term assignments and bring this fresh expertise back to their teams, enriching the collective knowledge pool. For managers, these skill-based recommendations can stimulate meaningful discussions with team members about exploring further internal opportunities.

Skills-based insights are made possible with technologies augmented with AI. A platform that uses AI and machine learning (ML), such as Workday Skills Cloud, is able to analyze skills data and skills relationships. This allows for a skills-centric workforce by integrating data from various sources to gain insight into current skills and identify skills needed for the future. Workday Skills Cloud is leveraged across Workday applications, allowing for smarter decisions about talent across an organization.

Project-based mobility offers another avenue for leveraging internal talent. This involves temporary role changes for employees to support cross-functional projects with specific objectives. Employees bring their unique expertise to these temporary assignments, getting a chance to utilize their skills in new contexts and collaborate with a diverse group of peers. This not only enriches their work experience but also infuses a fresh perspective and varied skill sets into the project.

By having project-based mobility aimed at cultivating the required skills in the workforce, company leaders can ensure the growth and success of their organization.

Through intentional talent management and a strategic focus on building talent pipelines, HR leaders can drive business initiatives and build skills within the workforce, and as a result, effectively address talent gaps within the organization.

With the rapid advancement of technology and the dynamic nature of today’s business world, the talent gap is not only getting wider—it is also magnifying many of the ongoing issues organizations face.

2. Embrace a Flexible Workforce to Fill Your Talent Gaps

Increasingly, organizations are discovering the value of a flexible, diverse workforce to navigate the ever-changing business landscape. When internal talent resources aren't sufficient, contingent labor presents a robust solution to fill immediate talent gaps while remaining within budget. 

Industries such as manufacturing, hospitality, and retail have long relied on contingent labor to meet seasonal demand fluctuations. However, with the expansion and increasing depth of skills within the contingent labor pool, company leaders across all sectors are recognizing the power of on-demand expertise.

While contingent workers play an essential role in the workforce, their potential is often underutilized due to fragmented talent management practices. To bridge this gap, organizations need to view their workforce as a comprehensive ecosystem of diverse talent categories: full-time employees, part-time workers, contingent labor, and seasonal hires. From a management perspective, each talent category offers unique potential to drive business impact.

From an employee experience perspective, workers are increasingly seeking flexible employment models in response to changing preferences for work-life balance. Yet, many organizations continue to operate under workforce strategies designed primarily for full-time workers. To adapt to this shift and manage the talent shortage effectively, HR leaders must integrate all worker types into the organization’s workforce strategies, plans, and workplace culture.

Further, adopting a skills-based approach aligns with this holistic workforce strategy. Instead of focusing on job titles, businesses should prioritize the skills needed to achieve their objectives. This approach considers every worker as a critical business partner, helping to foster a more inclusive, agile, and flexible work environment.

3. Gain Visibility Across the Entire, Extended Talent Ecosystem

A pivotal step in realizing the potential of a flexible workforce lies in gaining visibility across the entire talent ecosystem. The vast scope of talent categories—including full-time employees, part-time workers, and contingent labor—often creates data silos, hindering a clear view of available skills, schedules, and worker experiences. Often, HR is saddled with managing separate systems for internal and external workers, while procurement concentrates on controlling costs of external talent.

This scattered approach to talent management obstructs the seamless integration of contingent workers  into the overall workforce strategy. The solution lies in cultivating data visibility across the entire talent ecosystem. HR leaders need to empower their function with real-time data about the skills, costs, schedules, and in-house experience of their workers, irrespective of their employment model.

Technology plays a crucial role here. A vendor management system integrated with an HCM platform can aggregate data from various sources to create a unified dashboard that provides comprehensive insights into the talent ecosystem. The integration aids HR leaders in making informed, strategic decisions about talent deployment, skills development, and workforce planning.

The key is not just to collect data, but also to analyze it for meaningful insights. Sophisticated data analytics can help identify trends, forecast talent needs, and design effective strategies to bridge skills gaps. When used wisely, data can transform a fragmented talent landscape into a cohesive ecosystem that fosters agility, drives performance, and creates a vibrant work culture that embraces all talent categories.

Realize the Value of a Nimble Workforce

To thrive in a dynamic marketplace, a talent strategy needs to thoughtfully incorporate contingent labor management and internal project-focused gigs. The approach strengthens an organization’s resilience amid disruption and fosters a competitive edge. Capitalizing on the entirety of its workforce as a competitive asset becomes vital for businesses in the rapidly evolving, modern corporate environment.

Read the eBook The Future-Ready Talent Strategy, and start developing a talent strategy that’s ready for whatever tomorrow brings.

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