TalentWave recently launched our Talent Community™ solution for curating and re-engaging known workers. In the past few weeks, we shared our Talent Community Manifesto, as well as the Guiding Principles behind a successful talent community. And this week, our team of experts will host an educational webinar in partnership with the Human Capital Institute (HCI), called Building a Talent Community: Using technology to source safely and quickly.

These are all useful thought pieces for those who are considering implementing a talent community in their own organization. But before you begin, a more fundamental consideration is to determine your objectives. The answer to this important question of “why?” will help drive your strategy and execution.

Supply and Demand Framework

Our vision for any talent community is to help enterprise clients inventory and re-engage independent workers across the organization. The fundamental thesis of TalentWave’s Talent Community™ solution is that the best contractor is a known contractor. In our opinion, a closed community of known contractors is much more valuable to enterprise clients than an open marketplace of unknown, and unproven, independent workers.

While a talent community does provide an important benefit for contractors (i.e. access to project work), the primary beneficiary is the enterprise client, who pays to receive the benefit of the projects completed by contractors. The place to start is with the work to be done.

For organizations evaluating the potential opportunity, a helpful strategic framework to consider is supply and demand. To begin evaluating the efficacy of building a talent community, organizations need to first demonstrate a consistent need for independent talent to get specific work done. Because of this dynamic, we recommend the first consideration for enterprise clients should be the demand side of the equation.

Gaining clarity on talent demand will help drive the strategy for a talent community, as well as the execution of building and operating it. To achieve success with a talent community, organizations must make sure there is consistent demand for the services of independent workers, otherwise they run the risk of building a marketplace with an inventory of proven talent, but no projects for them to work on. This is obviously not a good outcome for any organization that wants to attract and retain independent talent.

What are you trying to achieve with your talent community?

Beyond considering the work which will drive demand for talent, we also encourage clients to dig deeper and evaluate their specific need. Before building a talent community, we want to understand what problem(s) the client is trying to solve and what their specific objectives are. There can be as many different reasons to build a talent community as there are different businesses.

Here are a few of the more common reasons we’ve heard:

  • Flexibility – “We want to drive more flexibility and variability cost into our business model. Supplementing our employees with independent workers is a key driver.”
  • Cost savings – “Independent workers cost us less in the long run than adding FTE headcount. Directly sourcing independent workers can save us a lot of money versus our staffing and recruiting agencies.”
  • Access to talent – “Our existing talent supply chain is pretty good, but not great. We need better, and faster, access to talent.”
  • Total talent management – “This will help us to gain visibility into our entire workforce so that we can allocate work strategically and cost effectively.”
  • Talent scarcity – “We need experts in X (specific skill set). We are struggling to find enough qualified workers with the specialized skills we need.”
  • Time to fill – “It takes a long time to find a qualified worker and get them onboarded. Our projects can’t wait that long.”
  • Time to productivity – “It takes way too long to get a new worker started on a project. We need workers who know us, and who can be productive on day one.”
  • Risk mitigation – “We want to use independent workers, but we don’t want to introduce more risk into our business.”
  • Client of choice – “We have a great employer brand for our regular workforce, now we want to be known as a ‘client of choice’ to attract independent workers.”

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many valid reasons for building a talent community. No matter the answer, it will be driven by the demand within your company for work to be done. While the specific answer for your organization may be different than others, it is no less valid. A talent community can deliver a lot of value. In subsequent articles, we will look at other strategic considerations, and explore the supply side of the supply/demand equation when building a talent community.

Editors Note: If you are interested in learning more about building a talent community for your organization, we invite you to join a free webinar, hosted by HCI, on December 1, 2016 at 1:00 P.M. EST.