Sector News

Tapping into fluid talent

June 24, 2022

Companies take three key actions to find talent in new and hidden places.

Rapidly changing workplace dynamics over the past decade and especially during the Great Resignation are forcing company leaders to tap into what we call “fluid talent.” Rather than just drawing from traditional sources, they should look to former employees and freelancers as well as talent that is hidden elsewhere in the company, borrowed from other companies, or working in other geographic markets.

While nearly all companies understand the urgency to find new sources of talent, few are going about it systematically. According to a BCG survey of more than 700 executives responsible for digital transformation, fewer than one-third of companies today go beyond traditional talent acquisition channels. (See Exhibit 1.)

Companies struggle to identify where to look within and beyond their organizations to find fluid talent. They are overwhelmed by the exploding number of digital talent platforms—such as Fiverr, Toptal, and Upwork—and the complexity of managing so many talent sources and solutions. Even companies that embrace fluid talent may not fully adapt their operating models to get the most from new sources of talent.

A fluid talent approach requires a fundamental shift in people management. It blurs the lines between external and internal talent sources, asks HR to play new roles and engage differently with technology, and subtly shifts the dynamics between companies and their workers. It also asks managers to shift their thinking about their teams and ways of working, moving from “owning” to “accessing” talent. How can companies take fluid talent from a nice concept to a concrete set of actions that create business value?

On the basis of dozens of interviews with Fortune 500 leaders, a detailed survey of more than 100 HR and business leaders, analysis of the HR technology landscape, and our work with clients, we find that companies aiming to make this transition should take three actions:

Identify where a fluid talent model will deliver the most value for the organization.
Create an ecosystem of partners, including talent matching platforms and solutions for upskilling and reskilling employees.
Develop a fluid talent operating model that reengineers how work is done and careers are built.
Companies do not need all the answers to begin their journey. Their early steps can generate wins on which to build a full talent transformation.

The Promise of Fluid Talent
Finding and retaining the right talent is growing more challenging. The skills gap is widening, while the half-life of skills shrinks and the need for expertise in areas like digital expands. At the same time, workers’ expectations have changed. People put a greater premium on workplace flexibility, autonomy, and purpose, a shift that is contributing to high levels of attrition. These dynamics are encouraging companies to experiment with a range of fluid talent initiatives. (See Exhibit 2.) READ MORE

By Nithya Vaduganathan, Colleen McDonald, Allison Bailey, and Renee Laverdiere


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