Bashinsky weighs in on freelance marketplaces

This article is originally published in the HRD magazine.

The Australian workforce is shifting. Freelance marketplaces or open talent networks (OTN) present a brilliant opportunity for workers to have more enjoyment and autonomy in their career, whilst also empowering businesses to increase efficiency.

At a recent breakfast event hosted by Nvoi, an online marketplace for the contingent workforce, I met with a group of representatives from companies including EY, Coca-Cola, Lend Lease and Audi. We discussed the impact of current market trends, including shrinking talent pools, changing employee behaviour and a shift towards variable cost models, on the workforce and workplace as well as traditional organizational and management structures.

The resulting round table discussion was very interesting. We assessed that using open talent networks had the potential to not only future-proof businesses against the disruption of these trends, but also allow them to become agile enough to adapt to new technologies, societal changes and functional demands as needed.

Three key examples of how corporates can benefit by integrating open talent networks into their employment process are as follows:

Adapting to the changing nature of work
Advancements in technology and artificial intelligence are re-writing the nature of how and where people work, as well as the type of work they do. Automation, for example, may establish a need for higher critical thinking and soft skills as technology takes over more routine tasks like customer service.

Consistent with the group’s thinking, Josh Bersin, a consultant with Deloitte and a world leader in HR Tech circles, in an interview a few weeks back, explained that his company had recently conducted a survey which sampled more than 10000 businesses globally, of which 45% said that they expect to be “fully automated” within the next 3 to 5 years.

At the same time, workplaces are becoming far more agile, globalized and fluid. This means businesses need to account for the decline of fixed geographical offices, more flexible work hours and increasing employee demand for a simulative environment. We concluded that in the near future, businesses will require more diverse and specific high-quality skills, such as AI development, than ever before.

Freelance marketplaces enable companies to tap into diverse skills on a need by need basis, allowing them to effectively fill higher order skills gaps as they arise, whilst retaining the power to streamline processes and cut costs when necessary. OTNs are also digital, meaning a business can hire a contingent worker in a different geographical location if need be.

Effectively fulfilling growing employee demand for higher autonomy and job satisfaction
During the discussion, we noted that a growing number of workers, particularly millennial workers, are seeking diversity of experience rather than focusing on climbing to the top. They are also prioritizing having the time to enjoy their earnings and aren’t satisfied with the prospect of doing the same job for a number of years, much less so if the role isn’t flexible.

Subsequently the room agreed that a job for life hasn’t been the norm since the 1990s. For businesses operating with purely long-term employment models, this means an increased risk that they will not be able to retain or attract quality staff.

Open talent networks allow workers to access a breadth of experiences with a range of commitment periods, whilst ensuring businesses are connected with talent that is genuinely interested in the project at hand, and have the best skills for the job.

Bypassing the financial pressures caused by traditional recruitment and operational models
By utilizing the contingent workforce, companies can employ and let go of specific skills as needed. This on-demand approach means businesses only pay for what they actually need and avoid the excessive fees of a recruitment firm.

Further, many specialized roles are not efficient as full-time placements. For example, a startup with less than ten people doesn’t need to employ a full time IT professional, as it only requires IT skills in specific circumstances. The work is more suited to a contractor. OTNs like Nvoi are low cost, cut out the middleman and fulfil skills gaps in as little as 24 hours. Saving businesses significantly both in terms of time and money, as well as the long-term financial commitment of taking on a full-time worker.

In facilitating the direct connection of prospective workers and employers in a digital environment, open talent marketplaces bypass costs associated with traditional hiring processes, heighten a business’ agility so that it can manoeuvre technological disruption and help fulfil changing employee expectations.

Alec Bashinsky, Non Executive Director – Nvoi – HROnboard, Honorary Fellow – Australian Institute of Business and Economics (AIBE) at University of Queensland, Board Member – Diversity Council of Australia, Asia Pacific Regional Talent Leader – Deloitte

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