Why It’s Time To Embrace Agile Talent In Your Workplace

by James McDonald on October 11, 2019
The Next Generation of IWMS: iXMS

Agile talent is the greatest resource HR managers have to combat the skills gap today.

In Gartner’s latest Emerging Risks Survey, 137 senior executives listed “talent shortages” among their top three risks.

And corporate real estate leaders cited it among their top three most important drivers of CRE strategy, according to the 2019 CBRE Occupier Survey.

Here’s how agile talent can help.

What Is Agile Talent?

Agile talent involves working with a mix of full-time employees as well as freelancers, contractors and consultants. An agile approach to hiring means expanding your talent pool beyond your immediate area and sourcing candidates regionally, nationally or even globally.

This model has benefits for both employers and employees. For employers, it offers the advantage of greater flexibility, access to more specialized skills and is cost effective.

And for the 20-30% of the U.S. and European workforce who participates in the “gig economy,” it offers an opportunity for them to be their own boss and manage their own income and schedule.

Embracing agile talent when appropriate can offer your organization a competitive advantage, especially as employees continue to change jobs more frequently and it becomes more difficult to attract and retain full-time individuals.

John Younger, author of the book Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts, says the new generation of agile talent is more likely to be hired for strategic work as opposed to operational work or temporary work that replaces full-time employees.

One example Younger cites is Campbell’s Soup hiring an anthropologist to better understand the culinary culture of China and Russia so they could effectively sell soup to new markets.

Another example is online learning platform Udacity hiring an agile team to provide real-time feedback to its students—which proved to be much faster and more efficient than onboarding new full-time team members.

What Agile Talent Needs To Succeed

To be successful within the organizations where they operate, Younger said agile talent needs five things:

  1. Strategic alignment—A solid understanding of key priorities, realistic goals and a realistic time frame
  2. Performance alignment—Well-defined metrics and regular feedback on their work
  3. Relationship alignment—Onboarding to ensure agile talent understands your organization’s mission and company culture
  4. Managerial alignment—An understanding of the manager’s philosophy and ways of working
  5. Administrative alignment—Clear policies and procedures, including ensuring they know how to submit the appropriate paperwork and will be paid on time

Your organization may have several department leaders managing agile talent. When they all understand their role in meeting these five conditions, your talent is more likely to have a consistent experience. This also helps your company maintain a strong reputation. In the digital age, one consultant who has a negative experience (such as not receiving adequate guidance and feedback) can make it more difficult to attract agile talent in the future.

Use Flexible Space To Attract Agile Talent

While a strong working relationship starts with alignment on strategy, performance and policies, it’s also critical for agile talent to have access to the spaces and resources they need to be successful.

That includes:

  1. Finding employee parking
  2. Having a place to securely sign in and receive an ID badge
  3. Being able to easily navigate your workplace upon arrival
  4. Being able to easily find their manager and others working with them
  5. Being able to quickly find and reserve a meeting room or a quiet place to work
  6. Having access to internal communications and workplace announcements
  7. Knowing how to request service for equipment that isn’t working
  8. Knowing when and where to receive mail, packages and food delivery
  9. Feeling comfortable using your cafeteria and other workplace amenities
  10. How to reach someone at a moment’s notice, even if they aren’t in the office

Simply giving your agile talent an assigned desk and a stack of paperwork to complete won’t set the tone for a positive experience.

An agile workplace—one where employees and consultants are free to move around and access the people, places and resources they need to be successful—will.

And fortunately, there’s an app for that! Learn more about how the iOFFICE Hummingbird workplace app can keep your agile talent connected and productive.


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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