“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new thing.” – Theodore Levitt, German-American Economist
As the wise Mandril from the Lion King, Rafiki, told Simba, “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But you can either run from it or learn from it.” These are words of wisdom that perfectly illustrate the point of view that many companies had to adopt since 2019 to deal with the changes they were presented with. Could you imagine telling a hiring manager before 2019 that they would have to suddenly transition to remote work with only a few days of notice?
This was the boon or bane, depending on where you stand, that the pandemic brought our way. Ever since the Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020, many companies have come to realize the potential and possibilities that remote working models could provide. It also showed that they aren’t locked into that traditional 9-to-5 work model. What’s more is that the hybrid and remote working models aren’t the end of the line in terms of innovative, adaptive work models.
There is a third option to consider – an open talent model or flexible work model. In this article, we will highlight some of the trends surrounding the open talent model, why and when to apply it, and give you an outline of a few things worth considering as a hiring manager. In essence, we will see how these factors of the remote and open talent model jive with recruitment as a concept.
The open talent model is a rather broad term that is prescribed to a wide range of work modes from freelancing to on-site work to globally distributed contractors. However, there is one defining feature to it all, which is project-based or temporary positions. If executed right, this way of working can help organizations access key skill sets while still maintaining a certain degree of flexibility, hence the name.
It is worth noting that just like the remote work model before the onset of the pandemic, companies have been slow or hesitant to adopt it. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a market for this working model before Covid-19, but it was slow-rising at best.
Again, much like the remote work model, there seems to be a normalization of the work model that seems to be taking hold much more aggressively. It’s almost as if the pandemic was a catalyst of sorts. Now, as to the different reasons, it’s worth considering, the three main ones are immediate and on the surface of it. The first one is the flexibility that we mentioned before. It allows organizations to scale recruitment and staffing as needed (up or down), at a moment’s notice.
The second reason is that it allows your company to outsource small tasks, which would be justified if it was full-time hires. Similarly, it is better than traditional temporary staffing where the overhead requirements would stifle the project or face budgetary restrictions. Lastly, an open talent model gives you access to a diverse skill set that goes beyond traditional recruitment pipelines, temporary or permanent.
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” – Peter F. Drucker
There are generally four separate instances where you might want to consider deploying the open talent model. The first one is when you have the talent inside your organization, but redeploying them to another role or task will be more capital and time-intensive than necessary.
You might also want to consider this model if hiring outsiders turns out to be less expensive than hiring someone full-time for the internal team or even paying overtime to existing employees. You should consider using it when highly specialized skills are needed but aren’t readily available within the organization. It is also worth doing if you want good returns on your solutions.
Now the first three scenarios are considered as a need for talent that is being addressed by the process of extraordinary recruitment such as this. The last reason, however, goes a little beyond that and shines a light on a certain point. That is to say, in many contexts, outside hires can provide innovative solutions or approaches to issues as opposed to the existing talent within the company. It’s not to say that employees you have are not capable, in fact, quite the opposite. They may be highly capable, but the issue lies in the fact that they might be too close to the problem. Outsiders can offer you innovative solutions due to different perspectives and the fact that they aren’t necessarily bogged down too much by the constraints of the business parameters.
Before hiring based on this model, as the hiring manager, you need to ask yourself a few things. The first, most obvious thing is the level of firm-specific knowledge that is needed to fulfill that role or project. While freelancers can offer valuable insights they need to have a certain level of insight into company operations to integrate the solution flawlessly.
Then of course there is the question of whether the project or task is recurring in nature. If it is, then it would be more economical to make a permanent hire. Keeping that in mind, you also need to consider the fact that if the repeated task or project requires very little business-specific knowledge, you could perhaps make your hires via an open talent model.
Before we get into the bigger picture, let’s discuss expectations. As a hiring manager who might be used to leveraging an army of temps from staffing agencies, perhaps you would expect to shell out a big premium. On the other hand, if you were one who has outsourced work to low-cost areas may expect cost-saving to be the result.
We would urge hiring managers to keep in mind that the more you move towards open talent work models, the higher the competition from similar firms in the industry. After all, what defines any and every recruitment process is the hunt for the best talent in the market – this means competition is a near certainty. This could mean cost saved or premiums paid, it’s hard to say. For the most part, you can only judge that on a case-by-case or need basis.
So, what does this mean for recruitment? Quite simply – democracy. In this globalized online economy with such a level of competition, we think that open talent will help democratize access to opportunities. This could have the ripple effect of providing recruitment opportunities in local or regional places where they are scarce.
One thing for certain is that the more practice you gain with the remote work model, the better prepared your company will be to take on the open talent model. At the end of the day, whatever work model you choose to stick to, they all can deliver relevant and useful results, but they require laser-focused management.