The Rise of Agile Talent And How It’ll Impact Your Business

— April 11, 2017

Among the many revolutionary changes that the corporate world is experiencing in the Exponential Age, there’s an increasing shift for companies to rely on Agile Talent. It’s not the same as hiring temporary or outsourced workers. Nor does agile talent simply mean that your employees are geographically independent (i.e. can work from anywhere). It’s a far greater concept that several leading companies are now accepting as the “normal practice” in a rapidly changing and highly demanding environment.

Employing temporary and outsourced workers to handle non-core and non-critical business functions isn’t a new trend. It’s been around for over a century. It made sense to take this strategic step so that your talent’s abilities and expertise was exploited and concentrated on what’s core to the business. Stay focused on what you do best and let all other support and non-critical activities and functions be handled by people who aren’t part of the core business. Over the past few decades, several industries experienced a tremendous rise in demand for outsourcing. Banks outsourced their call center and sales activities. The technology industry outsourced its after sales support function. It’s quite common to hire temporary and seasonal workers in the retail industry. And various other companies in multiple industries have been offloading specific tasks and assignments to contract worker.

Employing agile talent isn’t like any of that. It’s not all the offloading of a non-critical task or function.

Who Are Agile Talent

There’s a new group of workers who are restless and constantly looking for challenging work. They avoid being pinned to one company and prefer being their own bosses. They’re skilled, no doubt, but they aren’t willing to commit their trade, skill or expertise to benefit only one company. So they shy off from being employed as permanent workers. They’re agile, nimble and work primarily as freelancers (for themselves). So how can a company attract this talent to exploit their skills for its benefit? Surely, you can’t rein them in by employing them because that would be against their ideology of being freelancers.

On the surface you’d consider such talent to be outsourced workers, but that’s incorrect. Unlike outsourced or temporary workers, the work agile talent perform is more strategically linked to companies – something that permanent or full-time employees would perform. Agile talent work on tasks that directly feeds into the core business function of a company. Though, unlike permanent employees, their affiliation with the company that solicits their expertise is for a specific duration or assignment. Once that time frame or assignment is complete, their relationship ends.

To understand this, take the example of Campbell Soup Company which sells its products in over 120 countries around the world. When Campbell was interested in tapping into the China and Russia market it needed to understand their culinary culture. Hence, they hired a social anthropologist to help them study the market, based on the talent’s expertise in the subject matter. The agile talent (i.e. the anthropologist) helped them solve a crucial business dilemma.

When To Consider Hiring Agile Talent

From Campbell’s example we learnt that companies consider hiring agile talent when there’s a specific skill set that they require from an individual without the long term commitment of a permanent or full-time employee. So it’s safe to say that when companies are looking for more flexibility to respond to their strategic challenges, they’ll turn to agile talent.

A second reason is unsurprisingly cost. Bringing on board a highly skilled, full-time employee will cost companies considerably more because of the compensation and benefits they have to provide for their expertise. Choosing to employee agile talent allows you to reduce your expenses by taking out benefits from the equation (that’s usually provided to full-time employees) and managing costs for a specific duration – sometimes just a few months of the year.

Another reason that companies are opting to hire agile talent is tied to the geographic location of the skills they require. As the global village becomes more connected through enhanced communication techniques, tapping into the global talent market becomes relatively easier. The cost and paperwork of hiring talent from anywhere in the world has substantially reduced. Along with this companies don’t need to make long term commitments when seeking specialized expertise.

When you look closely and ponder deeper into the benefits of hiring agile talent you’ll realize that it’s the obvious strategic move to make, particularly in an era of rapid growth. There’s already an increasing shift towards this model as companies have started to build their organizational structure taking agile talent into consideration. It doesn’t mean that the job market is shrinking and that unemployment is on the rise. On the contrary, the near future will see talent being associated with multiple companies and not just committing themselves to one.

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Author: Paul Keijzer

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