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Why CEOs Need to Adopt an Agile Workforce

As organizations strive to deal with digital disruption and globalization, many are turning to agile workforce strategies to meet the demands.

optimized-istock-503558604They’re not only making their own workforces more liquid and flexible, but also are looking more to contractors and freelancers as a way to meet skill gaps. This comes at a time when workers also are increasingly interested in adopting more flexible working arrangements.

Going forward, CEOs will need to encourage their organizations to adopt agile workforce strategies to meet the rapidly-changing skills market. National staffing organization Randstad recently released its Workplace 2025 Study, in which nearly half of companies responding said they are committed to building an agile workforce model, up from the 18% which said so in 2012. More than three-quarters of companies use some type of agile worker today, comprising up to 30% of their workforce.

As the lines blur between full-time, part-time and freelance status, companies will need to adapt to these complex labor dynamics to staff accordingly. More than 30% of respondents in the Randstad survey said they were building an agile workforce to respond to a talent shortage, while an equal amount also said they were doing so because of globalization.

“In the U.S. alone, 43% of the workforce will be freelance by 2020, roughly four times the number in 2015.

Meanwhile, Accenture said companies will need to adopt more “liquid” workforce strategies to meet the growing needs for flexible access to talent, and that they’ll not only need to look more to outside workers, but also should be able to more easily train full-time employees and move them around the organization.

In the U.S. alone, 43% of the workforce will be freelance by 2020, roughly four times the number in 2015. Ellie Filler, managing partners, human resources practices at Korn Ferry, said that organizations are changing their strategy from hiring “people” to hiring for completion of tasks. He said the ability for HR departments to work with predictive analytics around skill needs will grow significantly.

The agile workforce allows organizations to reduce costs while also boosting productivity. Accenture said organizations are using agility to fuel growth, reduce costs and face competitive pressures. Companies are even using “supertemp” executives—ranging from lawyers and CPAs to CEOs—to bring in top talent at typically lower costs. They are increasingly trusted by corporations to do mission-critical work that in the past would have been done by permanent employees or established outside firms.

In addition to adding value to the organization, workers themselves are also finding value in agile work arrangements. The Randstad study found that 46% of workers surveyed said they personally chose to become an agile worker. Half of those workers said it offers them better career growth and allows them to earn more money.

“More workers have changed their perceptions of non-permanent employment, choosing to pursue agile work because it offers them greater control, growth and even job security,” said Jim Link, chief human resources officer at Randstad North America.

About Craig Guillot

Craig Guillot
Craig Guillot is a business writer based in New Orleans, La. His work has appeared in Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, CNNMoney.com and CNBC.com. You can read more about his work at www.craigdguillot.com.