We all know talent is important - and getting more challenging to find, especially further up the skill ladder. Contract workers are playing an increasingly significant role in covering those gaps in the workforce mix. HR and Talent Acquisition executives are emerging as the strategists seeking solutions to this shortfall, saving companies with stressed full-time workers, missed project deadlines and newer start-up competitors winning market share.
Boy, have things changed in the few years since the recovery.
Talent Acquisition is starting to realize that filling an open requirement for a full-time position may have to be approached differently. They have discovered the flexible workforce: contingent, temps, freelancers and other independent workers. Whether they are career independents, transitions, re-hired retirees, part-timers, stay-at-home moms, virtual assistants or moonlighters, the result is the same. There is a whole new talent pool, and with some creative and innovative adjustments, the work can still get done.
The downside is that it requires a real paradigm shift. There are risks: worker misclassification, varying Department of Labor laws, intellectual property protection, worker's compensation and many potential regulatory changes on the horizon as this movement gains popularity. Then, there is the question of loyalty and commitment. It's tough enough to assure your traditional staff is engaged and happy; how do you keep these independent types happy? Let's face it - your company's risk skyrockets when one of these non-employees feels that he/she is not being treated well. At MBO, our legal counsel often says, "happy contractors don't file class action lawsuits." So, how do you keep contractors happy? Pay them more? Add benefits? Invite them to the company holiday party?
When I speak with our MBO Associates, I get to hear their journeys from being often unhappy employees to becoming thriving independent consultants or small service providers. They are doing the work they love, they are free to spend time with their families, they are empowered by the knowledge they possess and they choose their own clients.
The MBO role in the independent equation is as a "trusted advisor" to independents. Their clients are our clients, so we work together to build their business. More than anything else we do, we've found that this makes professional independent workers happy.
A buyer at a large financial institution approached me after a presentation I did and asked me an interesting question: "Since your customer is the independent worker and you have built your business around servicing them, how am I supposed to believe you would watch out for our best interests? You can't have it both ways!"
I could see she was sincere (and maybe somewhat confused), so I answered carefully.
"I think you can have it both ways, and you should. We take care of our contractors so you can have access to this talent without the risks associated with non-employees. This also allows them to focus on the work they do for you. MBO and our Associates have the same client: you. Together, we get your critical work done."
I believe this is our biggest differentiator in the industry; you can have happy contractors and low risk by engaging your critical independent resources through a business operating system designed to make it safe and easy for self-employed professionals and their clients to work together.
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