Why your workforce strategy should be about access, not ownership

Instead of focusing on retention, companies need to focus on creating a hybrid workforce strategy

June 19, 2024

In the time of the Industrial Revolution, workers were chained to their desks or the factory line eight hours a day, five days a week, but it’s a completely different world we live in today. Now, work can be done from anywhere at any time thanks to advancements in technology, and remote working, flexible workers, and flexible hours are increasingly becoming more the norm.In fact, flexible workers, such as freelancers, independent consultants, and contractors now account for around 15 per cent of the working population in the UK. Combine that with the fact that young workers now prioritize flexibility, leadership training, and hunting down work that they find meaningful, and you’ll see that increasing employee turnover has become an inevitable byproduct of the modern career path.If you fear that it’ll have a negative impact on your talent pool, you’re quite wrong. To compete in this modern day and age, your business will need new hybrid workforce structures that push beyond the confines of the enterprise walls.Here’s why.

Access over ownership is key to your talent sourcing strategy

Business leaders and HR professionals have a drive to retain great employees when they find them. Retainment has long been viewed as critical to maintaining a competitive advantage, but it’s getting increasingly difficult due to increasing employee turnover due to a shift in preferences. Adam Kingl, a professor at London Business School, has found that number of jobs increase exponentially per generation. Our grandparents had 1-2 jobs, our parents had 2-4 jobs, Gen X will have 7-8 jobs, and Millennials are expected to have 8-16 jobs. You do the math and tell me how many jobs Gen Zs will have... If your guess was 32 - you guessed it right. Historically, job hopping weakened resumes by questioning employee loyalty, but today, job hopping is accelerating career advancement. Workers who stay with a company for more than two years are said to be paid 50% less. Job hoppers, on the other hand, get a steeper learning curve, are higher performers, and are more loyal to their company, because they want to make a good impression for the time they are there. Patty McCord, former chief talent officer for Netflix (and the leader of Netflix’s current innovative work culture), shared in a FastCompany article that employees: “build skills faster when changing companies because of the learning curve.” Her advice to companies: “view employees as smart contributors from the beginning.”In other words, if both new hires and employers acknowledge that the clock is ticking from day one, perhaps both will treat the two years with greater urgency. Paradoxically, scarce time may drive abundant results. Businesses that fail to develop strategies that specifically address the higher employee turnover rates risk limiting their access to critically needed skills.

Adopt a hybrid workforce strategy

Instead of focusing on retention, companies need to focus on creating a workforce strategy that embraces a hybrid workforce consisting of a mix of both full-time employees and flexible workers like freelancers and independent consultants. Fostering a hybrid workforce gives companies to access the critical skills they need to pursue their goals. It’s also a great opportunity for you as a business leader to introduce a more agile, flexible and collaborative mindset to your businesses that brings new levels of efficiency and innovation. A hybrid mix of permanent employees and flexible workers supply your businesses with instant access to the right talent and provide the advantage of scalability to meet fluctuating demand. This is crucial in times like these where there’s low visibility into the future and decisions have to be made rapidly. Flexible workers are also more likely to be a source of innovation for businesses. On the contrary, long-tenured employees are the least likely to be a source of innovation. They simply grow accustomed to the company mentality of “how we do things around here.”This does not mean that flexible workers should replace permanent employees, but that the magic is in the mix.  

Our advice for business leaders:

  • Shift your talent strategy to focus on access, not ownership: Think about how you can “access” the right skills at the right time rather than “owning” the skills. Workstreams of an agile workforce look like mission-based projects, with the right people working on the right projects - no matter whether they’re flexible workers or permanent employees.
  • Get HR involved: It’s crucial for HR professionals to embrace these trends, not work against them. A hybrid workforce structure will change the nature of the workplace, but will also make companies more effective. Your company’s HR department must be the frontrunners in communicating the benefits of these changes.
  • Implement a centralized platform that matches work needs to skill supply and then matches top of the line freelancers for the job: The right technology can provide you with instant access to talent when needed. Try out Worksome, which offers both instant access to flexible talent and a management system of all new and existing freelance workers.

The future of work is now.