Sourcing Non-Permanent Workers Online: Fad or Fixture?

Non-permanent workers. It appears they’re here to stay, evidenced by the shift happening in the mindset of corporate Australia: a shift that goes well beyond the generalised acceptance of these workers, to an active human capital strategy.

And we’re seeing more and more eminent education institutions across the globe delivering research – with, at times, staggering insights – on both the statistical analysis of this shift, as well as the more strategic revelations as to why the shift is taking place, and what impact it’s having in the corporate world.

Take a look at one component of Australia’s workforce composition right now….

Korn Ferry Skills Gap Article

The above statistic alone reinforces the belief – long held by practitioners like CXC Global who operate in the contingent workforce management sub-sector – but now also by industry and educational experts that this shift isn’t a passing fad. It’s a permanent global trend whose impact is reinventing what it means to work, and how the concept of work has changed.

Mind blown? Understandably.

A recent study we came upon from Oxford University, analysed the behaviour of Fortune 500 companies and their increasing usage of online talent marketplaces, for sourcing workers. Platforms like Expert360, Freelancer and UpWork. Here are some of the findings from the study…

  • Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 26% increase by Fortune 500 companies of sourcing talent through online platforms
  • There are three distinct motivations held by these organisations, for sourcing non-permanent workers from online marketplaces. These are:
    1. it provides easy access to a scalable source of labour, skills and expertise
    2. it reduces start-up and transaction costs
    3. it eliminates conventional hiring barriers
  • Compared to conventional staffing agencies, organisations appear to relish these benefits:
    1. speed-to-hire
    2. the increased speed for project delivery
    3. higher quality talent
  • New challenges of sourcing talent from online platforms, include:
    1. the need to learn new practices so that there’s an alignment of internal work, with external work
    2. preventing increased new talent engagement & co-ordination costs
    3. overcoming internal resistance
    4. developing tailor-made solutions to prevent risk
    5. creating new socio-technical infrastructures for platform organizing
  • Strategies organisations are adopting to organise the business’ platform adoption process, include:
    1. creating a programme management layer
    2. creating a space for experimentation
    3. allocating sufficient financial resources
    4. involving stakeholders and executive management early on
  • Strategies for hiring and working with non-permanent talent sourced from online platforms, include:
    1. having a strategy to decide what work to source online
    2. creating a freelancer-vetting programme
    3. creating a ‘bench’ of high-value experts
    4. fostering a sense of community with freelancers
    5. not hiring to replace in-house employees, but to complement them
    6. not blaming the freelancer for any poor work
  • Recommendations made if online talent marketplaces are to grow and mature involve the platform companies providing a support mechanism for the creation of sustainable ecosystems around platforms. These ecosystems would like make online freelancing one of many attractive and sustainable career opportunities for skilled workers, as well as a reliable and sustainable talent strategy for organisations

Australia isn’t quite there just yet, in terms of percentage volume of engaging non-permanent workers from these platforms. But we’re not far off.

And as these platforms become an increasingly strategic talent solution for big business across the globe, so too will they meet the needs of the workforce. Consider these scenarios:

  • At a grassroots level, millennials place less value on long-term employment with a single organisation, and so desire the opportunities of marketing themselves across multiple online talent marketplaces
  • Senior level professionals who seek more from their work life, and move to part-time in the corporate world, coupled with ‘gigs’ sourced from online talent marketplaces
  • Parents who need flexibility for their family’s sake
  • Highly specialist knowledge workers, who seek to apply their esoteric skills as much as possible, instead of having to meet the inevitable corporate cultural requirements of being a permanent employee
  • Workers who are jaded of the corporate grind, and seek to ‘give back’ through altruistic initiatives, whilst maintaining their income through contracts from online talent marketplaces

The opportunities and scenarios for non-permanent workers are prolific.

As a worker and as an employer, it’s an exciting time to be alive.

What are your thoughts? Has your business started to utilise online talent marketplaces to source non-permanent workers? Let us know in the comments, below.

PS we’re releasing an eBook in the next couple of weeks, of the top 20 online talent marketplaces across the globe. We’ve researched and analysed the target audiences of these platforms (i.e. the talent), their business models, specialisations and reviews. Email us here, if you’d like us to send you a pre-launch copy.

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