4 Ways Companies Can Achieve Workforce Agility

By MBO Partners | November 3, 2022


Key Points

The contingent workforce is an increasingly important part of workforce agility.

Independent workers provide enterprises with staffing flexibility, in-demand skills, and cost savings.

Rather than retaining a traditional workforce model, businesses should now consider dividing work into a series of project-based efforts.

Over the past few years, more people than ever before have left their payroll jobs to pursue independent work. Simultaneously, companies have realized that remaining agile is key to surviving economic ups and downs. The contingent workforce is an increasingly important part of ensuring enterprises are ready, adaptable, and competitive for whatever challenge they might encounter. 

What is Workforce Agility? 

Workforce agility is the ability to move quickly and effectively to adapt to changing business needs and disruptions. 

It’s no secret that enterprise expectations have accelerated through digital transformation. Businesses need to be able to react to unpredictability and scale their workforce up or down as market demands shift. Professionals, leaders, firms, and organizations believe now is the time to design a more resilient solution for the future in order to stay ahead of the competition.

4 Ways to Achieve Workforce Agility 

Here are four ways business leaders can achieve workforce agility in order to succeed in the future of work.

1. Prioritize Internal Mobility

Internal mobility is a crucial component of an organization’s talent strategy. This provides HR teams with the tools they need to identify their employees’ skill sets and aspirations, as well as deploy or redeploy talents to where they are needed the most. 

Developing a culture of internal mobility in a workplace or organization not only focuses on employees so that they are on top of mind once a role or job position becomes vacant or available. It also helps staff grow in their career and develop the right skills sets. 

To further agility, savvy corporations are considering helping not just FTEs, but also a blended workforce including independent talent, discover new roles and positions within the organization. Our research finds finds that 39% of enterprises are leveraging contingent labor to increase productivity, while 36% are using workers to meet workload peaks and get tasks done more quickly. Further, 81% of those with a branded talent marketplace (a proprietary job board for independent talent) are highly satisfied with their programs.

2. Keep Work Arrangements Flexible

As more companies shift their talent strategy to focus on independent contractors, there is a growing infrastructure of products, tools, services, and programs to support these moves. In fact, the growing infrastructure for independents themselves is a key reason for the exponential year-over-year growth of the independent workforce. 

One of the most useful tools available today are talent marketplaces. A marketplace helps businesses strategically fill opportunities with vetted independent talent. This solution helps to reduce onboarding time, sourcing costs, and engagement risks. 

As corporate comfort with remote work and online collaboration grows, it is likely that even more organizations will consider favorable work status to be another differentiator to help source the best and most qualified talent for projects and for teams. Those who do so sooner than later will continue to stay ahead of the curve. 

When engaging independent contractors, it is also important to keep in mind that these workers come from different backgrounds and bring individual levels of self-employability. MBO is the only industry vendor to offer a multi-tiered engagement model that gives independent professionals the flexibility they are looking for in a client relationship. After gathering all required classification documentation, every independent contractor is vetted and reevaluated for each new project to ensure an airtight compliance program. These types of flexible work arrangements are essential to building a successful modern workforce.

3. Tap into a Fluid Workforce

Independent workers are a growing economic force, providing enterprises with staffing flexibility, in-demand skills, and cost savings. Moreover, independent professionals are experts in their respective industries. 

Rather than retaining a traditional workforce model where work is matched with a full-time role, businesses should now consider dividing work into a series of project-based efforts. 

Independent professionals give businesses a competitive advantage. They allow companies to be more agile, increase their supply chain control, and boost their overall efficiency. To engage the best external talent, enterprises must put in place procedures to engage, scale and optimize their work with these professionals. With a concrete and polished program for independent contractors, forward-thinking companies can remain competitive and accelerate their business success. 

For instance, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) encourages P&L owners to leverage an extended workforce (both onshore and offshore) for a portion of client projects or deliverables. This enables the company to be flexible in its work arrangements and assure clients of project movement from start to end, as well as to maximize utilization and cost flow.

4. Leverage Independent Labor 

Some businesses talk about retaining talent to minimize skill gaps while others discuss the opposite―not retaining but outsourcing or filling in the gaps with skilled external talent. Savvy hiring managers are already saying that the use of flexible work arrangements helps them access specialized skills and hard-to-hire skills as well as to get tasks done more quickly. 

Independent contractors are experts in their fields. They have built careers from their depth of experience and their talent is highly sought after, especially in competitive areas such as IT, marketing, engineering, biotechnology, and consulting. Independent contractors allow companies to respond with flexibility to meet market demands. Engaging independent talent for projects that require specific skills or additional resources allows companies to access in-demand skills, get to market faster, better manage turnover, and have flexibility in cost models.    

As reliance on independent professional talent becomes more common across different industries, organizations are putting in strategies to retain, attract, and engage top talent. While these strategies and technologies vary per organization, they range from the establishment of a branded talent marketplace to complex and detailed nurturing programs for independent labor. 

In order to prioritize enterprise readiness, business leaders need to open doors for a new way of thinking. They need to encourage trust and collaboration among talent and create a plan for optimizing their workforce and adopting a resource management-led program.  

While this strategy can begin bottom-up, we have strong evidence to suggest that the most impactful programs also involve executive sponsorship. When core C-suite leadership articulates the value of an optimized, agile workforce, program adoption and roll-out will be smoother and more likely to succeed. 

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