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Post-COVID-19 – Building a Strong External Workers Bank

Experts foresee the COVID-19 pandemic to trigger job loss in thousands and lakhs the world over. With the stoppage of work across the board, the demand for services has decreased; cash-strapped companies have no option but to send pink slips to a load-full of staff. Up to one-third of US jobs are vulnerable. Hundreds of media and IT professionals in India have already been laid off. Countries across the globe have similar job market conditions.

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Structural shifts

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is currently affecting full-time salaried workers as well as contract and gig workers equally, experts say, once the focus shifts from fighting the virus to reviving business, companies might prefer gig workers more than full-time workers.

McKinsey foresees structural shifts in organizations based upon past crises trends: “A shift to independent work and the gig economy is already underway.” Michael Kearns, VP, Topal, a freelancing platform, says, “The sudden openness to remote will drive more freelance work.”

The COVID-19 pandemic may drive huge growth in the gig economy. As organizations shift to new ways of working, and transition from hiring full-time workers to freelancers, what are the ways in which they (businesses) can build a strong external resources network? Here are some cues:

Build a strong resource bank – make the most of diversity of talent

Being open to contract and freelance workers open a huge talent pool for organizations to choose from. By having an external resource bank, companies stand to gain critical competitive advantages. Here’s how to create a diverse resource bank:

  • Be open to access the best talent in the industry from across geographical locations.
  • Create a plan for acquiring greater diversity that can yield higher productivity. 
  • Explore working with professionals with diverse skills that complement your in-house teams’ skills. 
  • Encourage collaboration between members of your resource bank, as well as external and in-house resources, for innovative solutions.

Ensure a firm foundation across departments

As suggested in a report backed by Forbes, organizations should make the right investment; have good operational plumbing, smart HR systems, and exceptional communication practices to make this a sustainable way of functioning.

This would mean a renovation of HR practices – hiring methodologies and candidate-screening methods would change. Accounts departments would have to work out new payment cycles and tax structures for contract bills and payments. Once companies adapt to new systems, set a solid foundation, contract working would be a breeze.

Be on the safe side – background verification of contract workers

Just like companies run background verification for full-time workers, a check on freelancers and contract workers could keep them on a safer side. Professional background verification companies provide checks such as address check, education verification, and data checks, among others. One of the ways for companies to build long-term, strong relationships with external resources is by including background verification of freelancers in its HR checklist.

Create a seamless communication and engagement system

When VitalSmarts conducted a study or more than 1000 remote contract workers, they found 52% felt forgotten. They (freelancers) found it difficult to make their opinions heard, weren’t communicated changes made to the project, and took time to resolve conflicts. The solution to these challenges: a clear communication practice and engagement initiatives by companies. Video face-to-face meetings, building professional bonds, and establishing clear expectations both ways, are a few of the ways in which companies can build a seamless remote workers system.

By now, both companies and employees/workers are well aware, a transition or increase in remote working post-COVID-19 is a high possibility. Is your company ready for it and how will you build an effective system of working with external resources?