How Work Should Work

Future of work

What is a talent rep?

No matter how you’ve planned your workforce, full-time employment, part-time freelance, or other permutation combinations of those, there is one core unit of outcomes. Think of it like a single rep in a workout.

1. It may be completing all campaign collaterals this festive season

2. Ideating new social media strategies for the next calendar month

3. A simple email template for your next newsletter 

Ideally, when one rep is finished, everyone wins. You as an employer have found value in the delivery of work and the freelancer that offered their services has been compensated. Done well, business scalability is the natural progression of things. And in today’s business, the right talent at the right time at the right place is the recipe for success.

When this isn’t the case – when incentives are misaligned – companies struggle to find the talent they need on-demand for work they need when they need it. Or it requires incurring more hiring costs each time around.

A freelance rep is the fundamental building block of your agile talent strategy – it’s a transaction. Which is essential to sound unit economics. Back when all employees were on the payroll, your long-term or short-term organizational goals were fulfilled by full-time human resources who were supposed to bring both strategic and tactical as well as generalized and specialized skill sets to the table. This put too much pressure on organizations for in-house talent development and on employees for constant deep and broad skill development. The exchange itself was straightforward, pay your employer a salary and they get the work done.

But this approach left companies with a stew of challenges. How do you increase automation and digitalization, changing workforce requirements, shifting demographics, and competitive pressures? Enter: the pandemic. When organizations both small and large were caught in the crosshairs of a paradigm shift. It boiled down to the following questions: 

1. What is the essential work we do? 

2. How do we define core tasks vs chore tasks? 

3. How can we do better work faster? 

4. How can we find people who are highly skilled and digitally fluent in the numbers we need and when we need them? 

5. And how can we fundamentally become more agile, nimble, and flexible in our resource budgeting, allocation, and management? 

As talent evolved through digital transformation, on-demand work evolved into various models. You can hire by the hour, by the project, or on actuals. But with this evolution there arose complicated patterns in the workforce. Consider a ride-hailing app. One rep for a driver who owns a car is taking a passenger from one place to another. They are paid per ride. The user downloads an app and gets a new driver every time they book. This is perfectly viable when you just want a gigster. But when it comes to more nuanced talent needs in the creative atmosphere, you’ll need talent that knows their business and understands your market sentiment, user, competition and deliver each time around. You need large volumes of reps for every creative need your organization will ever need. 

With this change, comes the need to understand how the talent economy impacts your brand value, and the momentum of work, which in turn impacts every other aspect of your marketing or creative funnel.

Why does it matter?

1. Improve access to agile talent

As the sands shift in talent needs, the very definition of success changes. Where the organization once needed new ideas in-house and managed headcounts, it now focuses on attaining better outcomes. The path of least resistance here is experiencing effective talent reps without the burden of onboarding a full-time employee or onboarding fresh freelancers every time you need new work done. 

Deep dive: How do you access a large pool of talent without onboarding, compliance, budgeting, or management hassles every time? 

2. Expand capabilities at optimal costs

If you rethink your employee value proposition, employees at all levels can understand the benefits of arrangements you make with talent platforms. You redefine work into discrete components from both external and internal contributors. These organizational capabilities are immensely valuable for all sorts of work. Generalized or specialized. Strategic or tactical. Full-time or part-time. Long-term or short-term. This essentially frees up critical under-utilized in-house resources for more core work while opening up synergies with fresher perspectives for chore tasks.

Deep dive: What tasks have to be done in-house? Which ones can be outsourced? 

3. Align incentives with metrics

The key reason to adopt agile talent strategies is to align your incentives with delivery and organizational outcomes. For complex talent needs with multiple value tiers, finding a talent rep can be difficult. 

Say you iron out policies and processes to integrate temporary talent, what do you define as a viable talent rep that’s going to give you the best value for the buck? Each freelance hire or is it more granular like each delivery executed? Or is it more additive like a freelancer who can efficiently interact with your frontline manager and deliver on-demand? Or is it someone who can have a seat at your strategic table? By the hour for a consultation, by the project for deliveries or on-actuals, they can all be effective reps. It will be left to your leadership to take necessary decisions while onboarding platforms that can give the flexibility you need for rapid tests, learning, and profitable outcomes. 

Deep-dive: What does an ideal agile hire mean to you?

How work should work

As overused as the pandemic argument is, COVID-19 has accelerated the agile transformation. As supply and demand gaps widened, talent issues forced into existence new perspectives on how work should work. 

It has helped business leaders build new managerial skills and get more creative on how they source the skills they need. Older more traditionally structured organizations have been compelled to adapt new ways to survive the crisis. Those that have been discouraged from outsourced hiring on account of procedural issues in onboarding, legalities, and compliance are adopting stronger muscles through agile talent platforms for highly niche services. You onboard one platform and get access to an unlimited pool of talent. Whatever issues the crisis wrought, leaders have an opportunity to think, act, and make bold decisions to survive in a hyper-competitive world.

And viable talent rep is the necessary first step for every successful business.

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