Rethinking talent in today’s on-demand economy

24 september 2018

To help our HR network remain at the forefront of the (r)evolution in work and workforce, HRbuilders collects and shares interesting articles and reads on the future of work. Our #dreamteam was very enthusiastic about ‘reimagining work’, a book written by Rob Biederman, Pat Petitti and Peter Maglathlin. We agree with the authors that HR has to rethink talent because in today’s on-demand economy talented workers are seeking flexible projects and ownership & control over their work. This book explores a new paradigm that combines a mix of flexible staffed full-time employees and highly skilled free agents. Happy to share with you our main insights on this thesis about a blended workforce...


For too many people, work is a grind. And it looks like the work experience hasn’t changed in the past 50 years: people commute to work today the same as they did back then except, now they’re likely to spend more time stuck in traffic. Apart from the fact that today we use a laptop or mobile devices instead of a typewriter and that we send emails instead of printed memos, not much is different. Work was repetitive then and it is repetitive now. The stressed-out workers back then drank their share of martinis, today you’ll find them taking Ashtanga yoga :-)


Today’s skilled workers seek roles that offer flexibility,
a sense of purpose, societal impact and control over their work.


Unfortunately these features are often lacking in major corporations. This explains why people are leaving corporate life to become independent contractors where they do have the flexibility to work part-time for several organizations at the same time or do a series of short, full-time gigs with different companies over the course of year.


If the number of contingent workers such as freelancers and part-time workers
will keep on rising, by 2020 traditional employees will no longer be the norm.


And, technology is fueling this seismic shift in work. Disruption in the workplace has been rightly identified as a digital revolution and everything is changing very fast. While the focus has been on the explosive growth of technology, it takes longer for the social changes it brought about to catch up to the worker and employer and grab a foothold in the lexicon of work.


Essentially technology created a workforce that could run a 150 miles per hour
but companies left the talented experts on a track designed for 60 at best.


That’s why companies have to reconsider how to source talent and manage a more dynamic workforce. That’s why organizations will have to address the dichotomy between a career path and a life path. They will need fluid work arrangements to thrive.


What does it take to convince organizations that they have to build a flexible workforce? Are organizations ready to truly go talent-centric? Are they willing and able to tap into a human cloud of talent that allows them to find any expert no matter what the task or project is?


One thing is very clear: companies can no longer succeed
with only full-time employees on their payroll.



Organizations that want to stay ahead of the curve are going to have to adapt to a new mindset if they want to leverage the capabilities of a flexible workforce. Progressive companies will have to become agile outside their walls. HR departments of the future will have to hone their strategies around a mix of internal and external talent. HR managers of the future will not only have to manage people, they will have to curate an entire ecosystem. New processes and structures will need to be put in place. The whole picture and architecture of talent management will have to change. Leaders in the future of work will have to rethink the way to engage talent and knowledge workers and find the optimal mix of permanent and independent people to run their business.


At HRbuilders we are very optimistic about the future of work and the future of HR as we are witnessing every single day how seasoned HR professionals are reaching out to us to help them build a freelance career while HR departments of progressive companies are asking for our support when looking for specific HR expertise.


Comment on this article

Share this post