How to Win the New Talent War – for High-End Independent Expertise

Good news – and challenging news – for managers: The war for talent has intensified – and the battleground shifted.

The good news: the spoils in this new talent war are enormous. Per McKinsey, high performers are an incredible 800 percent more productive in a business’s most complex tasks.



And it’s easier to access these productivity-boosters — and power new paths to organizational agility and performance – by tapping the growing market for high-end independent talent.

But now the challenging news: because they are so valuable, the new talent war for independents is as fierce as for full-time hires In competitive fields like innovation and supply-chain strategy.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Webinar Replay – Latest Trends in Talent Acquisition Services across MSP, RPO and TTA

There are a range of independent talent marketplaces and staffing resources such as Business Talent Group that can connect you to pools of world-class, high-performance talent. But because high-performance independents can basically choose where to work, it’s up to you to think long and hard about changes you may have to make to make your company attractive to them.

Here are six ways to do exactly that:

  1. Define the mission. As entrepreneurs in their own right, independents seek breakthrough, purposeful projects that help define their brand. So connect your work with a broader mission important to the business – and beyond.
  2. Support flexible scheduling. Some independent workers enjoy face time with your team, but most want to combine on-site with remote work. Don’t let company norms rule: demonstrate flexibility and trust by asking consultants what’s most effective, while being prepared to discuss your possible need for an in-office presence.
  3. Cultivate an open culture. While exploring outside-the-envelope ideas is always challenging, an expert, outside perspective is often needed to free people from unproductive or insular views and ferret out unseen opportunities. Internal resistance to newcomers’ suggestions not only diminishes their potential impact, but can sour a relationship – and put you on “no-fly” lists for future projects.
  4. Treat independents with respect. Independents are business owners in their own right, but are too often treated thoughtlessly. In particular, extended payment terms signal a lack of respect: don’t expect consultants to sacrifice cash flow to support your cash-management strategies.
  5. Build an enterprise-wide talent program. Innovative companies are introducing enterprise-wide solutions to make it easy both for managers to source top performers, and for consultants to get onboard. On-demand talent programs signal to independents that you’re serious about making the best use of them.
  6. Don’t discount millennials. “High-end talent” may evoke older executives, but many top-flight millennials post the qualities really needed for a project: the skills to look ahead, learn quickly, adapt on the run and deliver at Internet speed. And according to Stephane Kasriel, chief executive of Upwork, more than 40% of 18-to-34-year-olds now freelance. Attracting talented millennials requires an even greater focus on engaging and purpose-filled assignments, flexibility and feedback.

Given the astounding benefits and flood of expertise into high-end independents, strategies and systems for winning the new war for high-end on-demand talent are no longer a “nice-to-have,” but a “must-have” for companies seeking to boost productivity, innovation and growth in their businesses.


Jody Greenstone Miller

Jody Greenstone Miller
Jody Greenstone Miller is CEO and co-founder of Business Talent Group.

Jody Greenstone Miller

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