Moving Beyond Contractors: A More Holistic Hiring Strategy with On-demand as a Key Pillar

These days, companies are experiencing transformational change in how they find and onboard talent. An on-demand workforce of highly skilled independent professionals is disrupting old talent models, enabling greater access to expertise globally, productivity, and cost efficiency. By tapping into an on-demand workforce, companies can hire the right talent for the right position at the right time.

While on-demand hiring is rising, traditional models of accessing expertise, such as hiring full-time employees and consulting firms, will still play a role in the overall hiring strategy of an organization. However, leaders within companies must now reckon with the evolution of a rapidly growing remote independent workforce and online platforms that provide ready access to independent workers. Companies who combine these models to build holistic hiring strategies are likely to succeed in the future of work. 

The rise of on-demand hiring

2020 saw profound change in the workplace. COVID-19 accelerated many aspects of the future of work that might have otherwise taken years. Everything from how we worked to how we collaborated to how we hired changed. As a result, Graphite saw a 44% increase in highly vetted on-demand experts joining the platform in Q2 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. This is a continued trend from 2020, where we saw a 57% YoY increase in independent talent joining our platform. This indicates a growing preference for highly-skilled experts to have greater flexibility in what, when, and how they work. On the flip side, with on-demand spend up 121% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, it’s a sign that companies have begun to shift strategies to hire qualified independent consultants and subject matter experts. 

Companies are hiring experts on-demand to not just address capacity and capability gaps on their teams, but also to accelerate business performance, learn, and innovate faster. COVID-19 has accelerated adoption to an on-demand talent model, and companies are seeing immediate results. Here’s one success story from 2020 that we take immense pride in:

A professional services firm built a team of 9 medical supply chain experts through Graphite for an inventory management and distribution operations optimization project at a COVID-19 testing equipment maker. The company was facing supply chain issues related to  sourcing raw materials and shipping products to regions on time as  COVID-19 cases kept rapidly evolving in different states. Graphite enabled the company to move quickly and efficiently, sourcing subject matter experts and deploying innovative thinking at a rapid pace and affordable cost. 

2020 became a breakthrough year for on-demand talent, with no signs of slowing down. By the end of 2020, some categories on Graphite’s platform saw major increases in client spending by as much as 5,160% compared to the previous year. What’s clear from 2020 is that on-demand hiring is here to stay.

The role of the independent worker

Business leaders may wonder if hiring contract employees provides the same value as hiring independent experts on-demand. With so much change occurring in workplace transformation, it’s a good time to discuss the role of contract workers. Hiring a contractor can make sense if the company needs a particular job done over the course of a few months. However, the traditional process of onboarding a contractor can be laborious, slow, manual and ridden with inefficiencies. In the old model of hiring a contractor, companies found contractors the same way as full-time employees, agreeing to terms and then onboarding them to a team. The contractor would typically require commitments for several months to make the assignment worthwhile. 

New models of on-demand platforms like Graphite  simplify this process, enabling business leaders to access a network of independent talent who can be hired for multiple projects and flex cross-functionally. Business leaders are then able to use independent professionals as the companies’ talent bench, accessing talent whenever and however long they need them. Independent professionals thrive in this mode of work, as they’re able to build a diversified portfolio of clients into a predictable source of revenue. The entire process is seamless and effective, with 1099 compliance build-in. Without a doubt, on-demand hiring is a win for both sides. 

Building a talent workforce for the future 

2020 became the year companies tested new hiring strategies, planned or not. Entire industries were disrupted overnight, and companies had to pivot. On-demand hiring became a key hiring strategy for companies facing new challenges. 

Companies can now leverage a competitive advantage by shifting their talent model into a blend of full-time employees and independent experts hired on-demand. The number of independent talent joining the platform is rising in parallel to a growing trend of employees leaving full-time jobs in favor of work that offers more flexibility.

The flexible work model includes remote work, as well as controlling when and how work is done. According to a survey conducted by Prudential, one in three American workers would not want to work for an employer that required them to be onsite full-time. Thus, there is a surge of employees leaving full-time jobs in favor of more flexible options. The data from Graphite indicates that the spend in hiring independent talent on-demand from Graphite grew by 193% in Q2 2021 compared to Q2 2020. 

The workforce of the future will need a blend of full-time, consulting and on-demand talent. The companies that succeed in this new model will be those that can think holistically and shift hiring strategies depending on the business need.

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