In a world where everything is in a constant state of flux and the future is unpredictable, a more agile and flexible workforce is required to be able to adapt to these changes quickly.
This way of employing staff is often referred to as the new talent supply chain; one that employers can dip into when needed. The “four Bs”, often associated with the new talent supply chain stand for building, buying, borrowing and bots. Building looks at taking a junior team member and mentoring them, enabling their progression, putting them in a leadership programme and effectively building your own structure. Buying looks at hiring externally. Borrowing relates to the gig economy, including freelance and contractors, Finally, bots is about automation.
Kate McGuinness, manager with Sigmar Recruitment, explains the finer details of the new talent supply chain; “It’s about having a broader view, so that you have diverse angles and avenues to hire from, instead of solely relying on the traditional route of permanent staffing; for example, say your business has secured a large project, and you have a team of freelancers or contractors that you have engaged previously, you can pick up the phone and have additional skills on site two days later. It’s simply being a little bit more flexible and agile. With our looming political landscape changes, nobody is certain where the market is moving so companies need that flexibility and ability to select talent from multiple categories. ”
The new talent supply chain has been discussed and developed in the HR and recruitment world over the last number of years, due to the capricious nature of work. The demand for different ways of working such as freelance, contractors, part-time, and flexi is increasing. “Previously there would have been a job for life and a career ladder to climb but it’s not like that anymore. It’s a jungle gym. You can move up, down and sideways to reach your desired career goals. This mind-frame is highly prevalent in the younger cohort of employees and it’s what they are looking for in an employer,” she adds.
Companies that are stagnant in their recruitment strategy will struggle in scaling to meet business demands, lose their competitive advantage and possibly miss out on top-class employees who may be seeking alternative contract arrangements, she says.
The demand for contract staff has increased, especially in the IT and technical arenas, as this allows firms to remain lean while still allowing for success during busy periods.
“The balance of the four Bs depends on the size and maturity of each business. Companies need data and a deep analysis to understand past performance, to assist in predicting how the market may impact them and then adapt their talent supply chain to suit,” she says.
This “borrowing” can benefit both employer and employee, with many freelancers and contractors often preferring the option to work part-time, remotely or for a limited time-frame.
“It is often chosen by working parents, with options to work for nine months and take the summer off or working around the school and extra-curricular taxi runs. In addition, it offers an amazing opportunity for rural employees to experience working remotely on leading projects without having to cover the costs of city centre living or commuting. Should more companies consider this option, it would massively impact the urban housing crisis. The gig economy also allows its participants to experience a vast variety of technologies and projects, enabling them to develop competencies and skills that they may not have gained exposure to in a permanent position.
Although technology has been hailed as something of a disadvantage for many industries , McGuinness sees it as a distinctive advantage, saying that bots are “not to be ignored. Companies need to move with the times, and introduce bots for those predicable and repetitive tasks. AI and robotics are harnessed to develop broader and better services, which only complements the workforce.”
According to the SIA 2018 Europe Staffing Survey the primary inhibitor to business growth today is “talent scarcity”, nominated the top spot by 40 per cent of their participants. “Having been at recent events and many round-table discussions, a lot of the dialogue is around talent attraction and retention in a candidate driven market. The employer needs to be mindful of this, consider all options and apply an agile approach to their talent supply chain,” she concludes.