One is the Great Resignation. Employees are leaving jobs in droves; nearly 9 million Americans quit their jobs in October and November 2021. As a result, employers are scrambling to fill positions, and candidates have tremendous leverage in negotiating salaries and benefits.
The other is the push toward remote, flexible work. Employees in traditional jobs are learning what freelancers and independent consultants have known for a while–a flexible work-from-home schedule makes it easier to juggle work and personal responsibilities. Now that folks have gotten a taste of the good life, they’re bucking against a return to the office.
These trends are inextricably linked. Many individuals are leaving jobs because of employers’ unwillingness to maintain the flexible policies they instituted in March 2020. And some will never go back to the office. According to Upwork, the number of freelancers in the US grew between 2020 and 2021, and the trend shows no signs of slowing.
Leaders must recognize that returning to the old way of doing things is not in the cards. We must rethink the traditional employment model.
It’s Time for a Partnership Model
The pandemic accelerated trends that were already cropping up across industries. The gig economy has been growing for years. Companies like Uber and TaskRabbit helped spur the early growth of the gig economy, but now we’re seeing more highly educated individuals leave the traditional 9-to-5 behind. Upwork’s survey revealed that 51% of post-grad workers are freelancing–that’s up 6% since 2020.
When COVID forced all companies to embrace remote work, it only made freelancing easier. Suddenly, external workers didn’t have to educate prospects about how to work with them from afar. Zoom and Slack were no longer tools known only to a select few–they became embedded in the culture.
This shift in how businesses function opens the door for a partnership model: One where companies pair up with expert consultant partners to achieve strategic goals and bolster their internal teams’ efforts.
Why Does a Partnership Model Work?
Investing in external partnerships brings many benefits to organizations. From sector-specific expertise to access to a broader network of partners, here’s why we’re bullish about the partnership model.
Drive and Experience
Consultants know their industry like the back of their hands. They bring deep expertise that you might not find in a full-time hire. And because they’re constantly engaging with other clients, they’re soaking up new knowledge and best practices with every interaction.
Sometimes employees grow complacent. External partners, on the other hand, must grow to thrive. These partners are constantly upskilling, learning new techniques and strategies. And they bring this knowledge to each meeting with you.
Good people know good people. Once you’ve locked in with a solid and experienced external partner, you can lean on them to connect you with other talented partners to execute on your changing needs.
This provides you with a degree of flexibility you might not have with full-time employees. Your new head of sales wants you to create a series of white papers for lead gen. If your team is overextended or lacks the ability to execute, turn to your external partner.
If they don’t have a content writer on staff, they likely have a partner in their extended network they can pull in quickly to support you. It’s six degrees of separation to the expert you need, no matter what you’re looking to do.
Leading a team is hard work. Sometimes you need a second set of hands. An external partner is adept at orchestrating internal and external efforts to get everyone moving in the same direction.
Outside partners are used to reading the room and managing personalities and expectations. They become your tag-team partner on strategy, execution, and people management.
The way we work is changing. This shift toward a partnership model gives both workers and organizations the freedom and flexibility they desire. Organizations can tap into networks of expert partners and find the perfect team to support them through any task. Those partners enjoy the ability to work from anywhere and experience the reward of constantly learning and improving.
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