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FAQ: What is The “On-Demand” Workforce?

Long gone are the days of lifelong employee relationships ended only by retirement into generous pension plans. Today, the marketplace of workers is more fluid, flexible, and fast-moving than ever before.

Yet, many companies feel unprepared to take advantage of new trends in talent acquisition, like the emergence of the so-called “on-demand” workforce. Only 9% of respondents to Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends report indicated that they feel they are excellent at managing gig and talent-sharing economy resources, and only 8% feel they are excellent at managing crowdsourcing, as part of their organization’s workforce and talent programs.

What is the Gig Economy?
The Gig Economy refers to the portion of the American workforce that works on-demand. It’s not exactly a new concept; many people have generated at least a portion of their income with freelance or contract work for a long time, but modern technology has greatly expanded the ability of people to find and work on “gigs” at will. As a result, the pool of workers who are part of the so-called Gig Economy is enormous; a study from TIME puts it at 44% of the U.S. workforce. For recruiters and hiring managers, it offers both advantages and pitfalls. It means organizations can outsource one-off tasks and projects and have plenty of options for finding good talent; they can get the job done without having to go through the full recruitment process. However, it also introduces the challenge of dealing with remote workers whose loyalty to your organization is likely low.

What is Talent-Sharing?
Talent-sharing refers to “the free-flow of professionals between businesses, ripe with business innovation and culminating in a new talent supply chain,” writes Computer Business Review. “Sharing,” in this context, is actually a misnomer; as The Harvard Business Review says, the sharing economy isn’t about sharing at all. Rather, it’s about making services available on-demand. Think of ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft; the customer makes a request for service through a centralized marketplace and gets a response immediately. For recruiters, this area is in flux and, consequently, is hard to pin down. That makes it important to stay abreast of emerging recruitment channels through which on-demand talent can be accessed.

What is Crowdsourcing?
Crowdsourcing refers to obtaining information or task completion through the services of large numbers of people (paid or unpaid), usually online. It’s not really practical to crowdsource activities for corporations, but they can crowdsource recruitment itself. There are even companies that specialize in crowdsourcing recruitment, so outsourcing crowdsourcing is entirely possible. Here’s how it works: job announcements are disseminated through social media, shared over and over again, so that job openings reach a wide audience. While the process is very similar to soliciting referrals from employees and other contacts, the difference is in reach: crowdsourcing the process can potentially reach enormous numbers of people. Crowdsourcing is particularly helpful for organizations like startups that desperately need talent but don’t have the in-house resources to scout extensively.


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