A few insights on the HR gig economy and the HR workforce of the future.

Written by

Written by

Karan Rhodes

My friends know that I am an NFL fanatic, and in my opinion, one of the most valuable, unsung team members is the team’s back-up quarterback. The back-up quarterback must be an expert in their own right and be ready to support the team within a minute’s notice. They also are the right hand of the starting quarterback, helping him assess the dynamics happening on the football field.

As quiet as it is kept, HR functional leaders sometimes need help too – a trusted partner who is also an expert in their own right and who can be called on-demand to help assess, strategize, and execute the best ways to tackle the needs and dynamics happening in the workplace.

Human Resource functions like HR Generalists, Leadership Development, Talent Management, and Organizational Development continue to be unsung heroes who hold organizations together during times of complex people-related initiatives and organizational change. However, due to advances in technology, intense industry competition, and the pressure to sustain ongoing profitability, it’s no secret that companies have had to become more agile in how “the work” get done.

And this is no different in HR.

Much has been written about the gig economy, where professional contractors play a very integral role as part of the new blended workforce model in organizations. Companies commonly use contractors with niche skill sets to help meet deadlines of critical initiatives or to work on short-term projects. The flexibility and cost containment that contractors can provide can definitely be an invaluable strategic advantage.

Department functions like IT, Marketing, and Finance have embraced and evolved the integration of the gig economy to help scale the capability and capacity of their departments. However, in my experience, the HR gig economy lags quite a bit behind others in this area. The “wild, wild west” of contract project support for HR functions is ripe for disruption.

HR contract project support is a $300B market and there are literally hundreds of thousands of HR independent contractors with legitimately valuable expertise. However, most HR leaders I speak to say that the pain of sourcing vendor recommendations, interviewing a slew of candidates, negotiating budget-friendly fees and ramping them up on the project in time to meet project deadlines – just wasn’t worth the hassle.

The alternative of doing all the work in-house wasn’t a pretty sight either. 60+ hour weeks. Mental and physical exhaustion. Low team morale. Eliminated or delayed other priorities. Disappointed company executives.

So, what is a talent leader to do?

My single piece of advice to consider: Take the time to choose YOUR “back-up quarterback” right now.

No matter your budget (or current lack of one), building a relationship with a firm or mix of firms before you need them, will ensure that you have a trusted partner to call when you do find that you need a helping hand.

Need a place to start?  Learn more on our website.

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