Small Business Needs the Human Cloud

“Small businesses have the power to transform America. Every day, from street corner to street corner, across the United States, small business owners apply their extraordinary potential to spark competition, drive innovation, build communities and better the quality of life for US citizens.”

The State of Small Business in America, Babson

The small business growth engine

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, some 28 million small businesses serve as major drivers of the U.S. economy. Among them, 99% have fewer than 500 employees and nearly 90% have 20 or fewer employees. This represents both a huge, largely untapped market, and an incredible opportunity for the staffing industry.

Small businesses face many challenges with four main themes: (1) access to capital; (2) navigating the regulatory environment; (3) finding and retaining talent; and (4) technology. Among these, workforce issues have become a major pain point, and the opportunities this represents for the staffing industry are vast.

Forward thinkers are already working to help small businesses think beyond traditional employee-relationships, embracing a more agile workforce.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Temporary Worker Survey 2017: Are temporary workers turning to human cloud services for employment?

The go-to solution is often the “gig economy.” Businesses tap into the gig economy when they hire temporary workers through staffing firms, or independent contractors by referral. Usually, this is a stopgap measure intended to fill urgent or temporary needs rather than a deliberate and enduring strategy. What if, however, it could be used to solve workforce issues on an entirely different level?

Enter, the next evolution of the gig economy — the “human cloud.” Staffing Industry Analysts defines the human cloud as an “emerging set of online/digital platforms that enable managers to complete (typically contingent) work.” This cloud is full of freelancers, consultants, contractors and experts who seek new employment models for various reasons. The emerging difference is that the human cloud combines gig economy efficiencies with the opportunity for rewarding, long-term work engagements.

Finding and keeping good employees is a top growth challenge for small business

More than 70% of business owners have found it difficult to hire qualified employees. The solution? The gig economy and the human cloud represent an efficient, scalable talent solution for businesses without enterprise economies of scale or deep HR/recruiting expertise.

Accelerating the small business engine with an agile, qualified workforce

Today’s human cloud platforms aggregate an extensive market of on-demand talent and offer a range of models to buy the services small businesses need. Available talent ranges from basic to extraordinary in terms of skills, experience, and quality. Using the human cloud, nimble businesses can augment core teams, fill skill gaps or strategically outsource job components to leverage fractional expertise they might otherwise be unable to attract, afford, or need full-time. While the platforms make it easier to access cloud workers, making a good job/worker match is laborious and the multitude of market options can be overwhelming.

Small business needs the human cloud to succeed

To thrive, small businesses will need to adapt to more agile talent strategies. It’s estimated that by 2020 40% of the US workforce will be freelancers, or shared economy workers like drivers. In addition, digital acceleration is demanding more specialized skills as the nature of work evolves. The human cloud gives small businesses greater ability to compete for top-tier talent who are increasingly looking for a flexible portfolio of work experiences.

How can the staffing industry help small businesses transition, transform and succeed?

  • Include small sector needs in strategic planning
  • Design small buyer focused, easy, cost effective solutions
  • Minimize laborious resume review with curated talent choices targeting best matches
  • Deliver expertise through automated processes
  • Provide services to help integrate freelance talent – both onsite and virtual
  • Insert human support to complement artificial intelligence-driven processes
  • Be an authentic, trusted advisor

Consider this, there are only one thousand Fortune 1000 enterprises to serve, yet there are 28 million small businesses in need of agile staffing solutions. We have entered the age of the staffing ‘long tail’ where smaller revenues from higher volumes are the future. Those who provide access to the gig economy and the human cloud will lead the way.

MORE: Recruiting Talent in Today’s Gig Economy

Elizabeth Eiss

Elizabeth Eiss
Elizabeth Eiss is the founder and CEO of ResultsResourcing.

Elizabeth Eiss

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