A Flexible Workforce Can Be a First Choice Versus a Last Resort

Utilizing temporary work has often been viewed in the same way as getting your oil changed — sometimes necessary, but rarely something embraced. We all know there are benefits, but still, it’s one of the last things we want to prioritize, even if it can solve some of our larger problems.

Whether it’s bringing someone in to answer phones or cover a medical leave, temporary solutions are often considered a means to an end when an organization is short-staffed. But when regarded instead as a proactive resource for moving an organization forward, a flexible workforce can transform a company. Today, as a potential recession looms, the appetite for a flexible workforce is growing — which makes approaching a temporary or project-based staff as a first choice even more imperative.

In this tight labor market, we have seen employers using compensation as their primary edge against competitors, but wage inflation is expensive and may be unsustainable. The larger incentive to proactively seeking a temporary workforce, though, is not just fiscal; it’s transformational. In the middle of an ongoing labor shortage, temporary workers are untapped talent waiting to help you move the needle. Opening up to these workers can assist in immediate and short-term goals for longer-term transformation.

The temporary workforce is a resource to pilot all of the projects you want to get to but can’t because you’re limited by budgets and bandwidth. Ask your overworked employees: “If there was one thing that you could get off your desk that would be game-changing for you and your time, what would it be?” You could not only effectively reduce that employee’s workload but allow someone else to expand and/or grow their skills, either within your organization or externally. The flexible professional workforce is interested in experiences — they often have the aptitude and attitude to move an organization through change. When given the chance to do so, it’s a win for the temporary worker, your overworked staff and you.

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As a result of the major shifts we’ve seen in the workforce landscape since the pandemic, flexible work is also becoming more attractive to candidates. The stigma of being a “temp” and not having a full-time job has been replaced by a desire to maintain the flexibility and work-life balance that many workers have been afforded over the last two years. Younger generations in particular are motivated by experience versus lifetime employment status with one organization. They are enticed by a company that leads with purpose and offers meaningful stretch opportunities and work-life balance. They are eager to bring their whole selves to the workplace and are equally driven to learn and feel integral to projects and challenges.

Flexible work provides a sense of security for job seekers who are dubious of committing to one organization amid layoffs and the Great Regret. Companies are making sweeping promises to secure talent, and while compensation is a priority for today’s job seekers, the value system of the company is of equal consequence. Employees want to feel seen and cared for, and the unfortunate reality of the changing job market is that candidates are accepting attractive offers only to find out the company isn’t the right fit. Short-term assignments and project work provide opportunities to not only feel out an organization’s culture but also leverage a job well done in conversations around desired career paths and how that may or may not fit within the company. While flexible workers may not be privy to the same benefits as full-time staff, the perk of longevity at the right company is a fair trade. Again, it’s a win for both sides.

Reimagining the role of a flexible workforce comes down to seeing the possibilities rather than its limitations. Every worker, regardless of employment status, has the potential to not only reduce burdens on current staff but also improve productivity by moving the ball on projects that need to get launched. Whether for organizations navigating labor shortages and budget restraints or job seekers weighing the pros and cons of competing offers, when seen as a first choice, flexible solutions are just that — solutions.

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