The sheer speed of business may frighten many business owners and their leadership teams. How an organization keeps up with rapid growth driven by a sudden burst in new customers, a new innovation that results in hundreds of new orders, or expansion into new geographies can make or break the company.
In any organization’s growth cycle, the critical factor often boils down to just one thing: people.
Is the existing staff capable of handling unanticipated growth? How quickly can new hires be recruited, trained and given a green light to do their jobs? Can the business accommodate the demands of more full-time employees, or is this growth spurt temporary?
When an organization’s growth trajectory seems out of control (and the work simply won’t wait), there is another way to approach the traditional staffing model.
By engaging with skilled independent contractors, any business can continue down its growth path across every function — IT, HR, finance, manufacturing — without skipping a beat.
Here are four considerations when the work simply won’t wait:
1. Remember that the current full-time staff can only do so much
Many organizations break down when leaders overload their existing workers. Want to see attrition rates skyrocket? Raise expectations on existing staff once. Then do it again as the work continues to pile up. Resignations will soon follow and HR recruiters will be swimming upstream backfilling job vacancies while the new growth demands are left unmet. It’s a vicious cycle that no organization wants to experience.
2. The freelance workforce is booming
Since the mid-2000s, millions of highly skilled workers have joined the ranks of independent contractors by choice. They’ve taken their experiences gained at small, medium and Fortune 1000 companies, and started their own businesses in order to meet their personal career objectives. Numerous studies in recent years indicated that by 2020, 40 million people in the U.S. labor force will be freelancers, which means organizations must learn how to engage with independent contractors and manage the workflow of this extended workforce.
3. Specialized skill sets may only be needed for a window of time
Why hire a full-time specialist if the need for that individual is for a short-term project? This is the perfect time to identify and engage with a highly skilled freelancer who can deliver years of expertise to an organization on a project basis. Develop a good relationship with that individual and suddenly there’s a resource the business can count on the next time that same skill set is needed.
4. Independent contractors make sense geographically
If a growing organization decides to establish new offices in Dallas, Sacramento and Pittsburgh, is it necessary to send the company’s full-time operations, HR and IT staff to each city? Just think of the hotel and meal expenses that add up as full-time staffers get sent in all directions for weeks on end. Smart organizations will, instead, source as much of this work as possible to independent contractors who live in these communities, understand how work gets done at their local level and who can focus their complete attention on a project until it is completed. These engagements last for a week or month and then the work is done, the office opens and the growth is uninterrupted.
Yes, the freelance economy is very real and it’s not going away any time soon. Organizations are quickly adapting and adopting to the change in how work gets done — and experiencing all the benefits that come with engaging highly skilled contractors who care about the work they do each day.
So as businesses grow and markets develop, prepare for the inevitable. Experiment with contract labor right now. Get comfortable with the process and understand the benefits of engaging with this contingent workforce, and managing the workflow and projects they are assigned. The relationships developed with contractors today will ultimately help organizations succeed in the future.
This article was originally published online by The Business Journals and was written by Mynul Khan, founder and CEO of Field Nation.