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Do You Need On-Demand Talent? Here's How to Know You're not Uber, but you may need to imitate its reliance on outside talent. Here are four things to consider before jumping in.

By Heather R. Huhman Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


It's clear by now that the on-demand workforce is no longer limited to Uber and other high-profile companies: A 2016 report of more than 1,000 businesses, published by Workmarket, found that 88 percent of businesses surveyed were using an on-demand workforce. What's more, 46 percent said they had been using on-demand talent for more than a year.

Related: 4 Essentials for Growing an On-Demand Company

These results strongly suggested that employers have a need for more permanent or full-time talent, and to cut costs, they're opting for on-demand workers.

In other words, employers are growing their businesses while shrinking their workforces. But to grow a sustainable company, businesses need a sustainable workforce. So, before employers hire on-demand workers, they first need to determine what their real talent needs are.

Here are a few ways to know it's time to go the on-demand route, and how to target recruiting efforts toward that goal:

1. Analyze your talent needs.

The traditional hiring model starts with open positions; employers hire professionals to fill certain spots with specified roles and responsibilities. But, when you consider taking on on-demand talent, skills must come first. What skills does your company need?

Analyze the importance of these skills in terms of the overall business. How integral are they to success? Are these skills a major part of the company? Will the company always need professionals with these skill sets?

When a company is looking for talent that has the skills most essential to its business, full-time workers are the wisest decision. But, for skills of less importance or those needed only for a project or short time, on-demand may be a good option.

For example, a restaurant wouldn't hire an on-demand chef or wait staff. But it might hire a public relations specialist on-demand to help get the word out about the business. This is a pretty obvious example, but the concept applies in every industry -- employers need to draw the line between the essential skills needed to run the business and those that can be outsourced.

Related: Bringing an On-Demand Mentality to Employee Development

2. Evaluate your real reason for wanting on-demand workers.

Once employers know if they need on-demand talent or not, they should next evaluate why they want to hire those professionals.

In a survey, Workmarket found that 64 percent of organizations contacted said they used on-demand talent to increase their workplace flexibility. But, what does that mean, exactly? Do these organizations want more workers so their full-time staff can take on bigger, more complex responsibilities?

Do they want the flexibility to move people where and when they need them? Or, do they want more flexibility in their budgets? After all, 45 percent of employers in the survey said they used on-demand workers to reduce labor costs.

While lowering labor costs can be an added benefit from using on-demand professionals, it shouldn't be the sole reason to hire them. If employers want to use on-demand workers as a substitute for full-time employees, in order to pay them less and provide fewer benefits, that arrangement is doomed to failure.

According to a survey of more than 4,600 on-demand workers published by Intuit in January, the top reason professionals take on-demand work is to earn more money and supplement their income. If on-demand workers feel they aren't being paid or treated fairly, they'll leave and find work elsewhere.

Hire on-demand talent, then, to fill unexpected gaps and assist with projects, new clients or a specific area of expertise -- not to cut head count and labor costs.

3. Attract on-demand talent.

After you've analyzed your talent wants and needs, and found that on-demand workers seem like a good fit for the company, it's time to recruit them.

Recruiting on-demand talent isn't the same as hiring full-time employees. On-demand workers are more selective when they choose the employers they work with; and they typically have different priorities and want different things from jobs than full-timers do.

For example, the Intuit survey found that getting enough work and having a predictable income were the top challenges on-demand workers said they faced.

So, as an employer, address these needs during the hiring process to bring high-quality talent on-board. Give on-demand professionals as many details about the arrangement in advance as possible. Clearly lay out how long they will be needed.

Explain if they will be needed on an ongoing, project by project or one-time basis. And specify approximately how many hours a week they will be needed -- and how they will be paid. The more that on-demand workers know, the better they can determine if the job will work for them.

4. Find the right fit.

Just because on-demand workers have more of a choice during the hiring process than full-time employees do doesn't mean employers shouldn't be selective as well -- they still need to find the right fit for the job.

When hiring full-time employees, organizations should look for a mix of skills, experience and cultural fit. But, for on-demand talent, skills takes center stage. In fact, 74 percent of organizations surveyed by Workmarket said that the on-demand individuals they hired were required to complete skills assessments to work with their companies.

So, make sure you find the right fit. Use skills tests or tools like SpringRole to create job posts that focus on skills and automatically weed out candidates who aren't qualified for the position.

Related: What Workers Need in the On-Demand Economy

And, most of all, look for candidates who have the skills to get the job done and a good track record working with similar projects and clients.

Do you use on-demand talent? How do you determine the need for them in your business? Share in the comments below!
Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, a content-marketing and digital-PR consultancy for job-search and human-resources technologies. She is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle.

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