What is Flexible Talent Management and Why is it Important?

What is Flexible Talent Management and Why is it Important?

The business landscape is undergoing dynamic changes of an unprecedented magnitude. Businesses of all sizes use innovative digital technologies to address a rapidly evolving marketplace, stay competitive, and boost productivity. Simultaneously, the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the adoption of remote workforce policies, changing the labor market in near real-time, and expanding the depth and breadth of accessible, remote talent pools.

As a result, companies are reevaluating business practices across the board, including their talent management strategies. HR professionals are implementing new ways to attract, hire, and retain top talent while maximizing flexibility, optimizing worker performance and productivity, and managing costs. For many companies, updating remote workforce and contingent worker policies and practices with flexible talent management strategies helps them meet their talent needs and cost-saving objectives.

Below we define flexible talent management (FTM), why it’s important, and the benefits it provides.

What is flexible talent management?

Traditionally, talent management has involved identifying talent gaps, developing job descriptions and recruitment plans, attracting talent, making a selection and onboarding, and devising methods to develop, train, promote, and retain employees.

Successful talent management strategies must continually adapt. They have to be able to address innovative technologies, marketplace shifts, workforce changes, and new corporate goals and objectives. That’s why there’s a growing trend today toward the flexible talent management (FTM) model. Also known as agile talent management, FTM leverages independent contractors and freelancers to fill in talent gaps, address temporary workforce requirements to complete projects, and provide ready access to specialist skills on an as-needed basis.

Why is FTM needed?

Flexible talent management may be the ideal solution for businesses focused on thriving in a new economy that favors lean, cost-effective, and highly-productive organizations. When a remote or distributed workforce is possible, human resource and hiring managers find FTM useful for various reasons. FTM makes sense for a growing number of companies, from cost efficiencies to the flexibility of swiftly onboarding talent on-demand and quickly releasing contingent workers when required.

As businesses adopt remote and distributed workforce practices, this trend may continue to grow post-pandemic. Many office jobs can be performed from almost anywhere with a computer and a reliable high-speed internet connection. And when a job requires access to productivity and communications applications or job-specific platforms such as CRM (customer relationship management), new technologies enable companies to provide these tools to a remote workforce.

It’s not only companies that benefit from FTM—so do workers. Those reacting to the impacts COVID-19 has had not only on jobs, but on personal health feel safer working from home. Remote work also promotes work-life balance. Eliminating long commutes, for example, helps relieve stress and frees up personal time. The average commute in the United States is around 16 miles, totaling nearly an hour round trip.

Benefits of flexible talent management include:

1. Access to talent

With the freedom to access national and international remote talent markets, you’re not limited to looking for talent located close to business headquarters or branch offices. Especially with the current level of unemployment, this flexibility benefits companies as well as workers.

2. Improve worker health

Remote work eliminates exposure to cold and flu viruses in the office. Plus, those who don’t feel well aren’t coming into the office spreading germs. Working remotely also helps reduce stress and improve overall health and well-being. Even eliminating a stressful commute can make a big difference.

3. Reduce overwork and burnout

In a time of high unemployment and tight profit margins, it may be tempting to load up your salaried staff with more work. This usually backfires. Overworked resources are more prone to making mistakes, and the stress from being overworked can lead to health problems, such as insomnia, depression, and heart disease. Also, as the job market opens up, employee retention can suffer. You can avoid creating a workload that becomes untenable by hiring independent professionals for one-off projects or a sudden surge in work.

4. Lower real estate expenses

Businesses aiming to decrease operating expenses can lower real estate costs by reducing dedicated office space. When office work is occasionally required, using co-working office concepts to support a distributed talent pool also lowers operating expenses.

5. Ensure business continuity

A remote workforce increases the ability to keep a business running despite inclement weather, technical outages, and local disasters. Furthermore, workers aren’t late for work due to traffic accidents, mass transit running late, or automotive problems.

6. Shift in the value of work over optics

An in-office culture emphasizes the optics of being present, but it doesn’t necessarily mean workers are productive. Removing these optics with a remote workforce places more emphasis on productivity and outcomes.

7. Increase diversity and inclusion

FTM enables businesses to offer flexible scheduling and better accommodate those with caregiver needs, disabilities, and health conditions that may keep them away from an office environment. It also provides more personal flexibility for religious observances, healthcare appointments, and homeschooling during the pandemic.

8. Environmental benefits

No commute means fewer emissions, but there are some hidden benefits as well. For example, digitizing documents for remote workers reduces paper usage.

Next steps

Adopting an FTM talent management model is compelling for many reasons, including those highlighted above. Upwork enables you to hire top independent professionals with the confidence of using the world’s work marketplace. Learn more at Upwork.com.

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