Due to the pervasive Internet, the scope of most successful startup teams today has become global. Also, more people are only available to work remotely, especially with the recent pandemic. The traditional model for hiring permanent employees who can grow their career with your company just doesn’t work, and can jeopardize your business before it even gets traction.
You need a faster and more flexible on-demand hiring strategy, based on the current gig-economy of remote freelancers, contract personnel, and specialists. According to reports, these come from all the way up and down the age and experience spectrum, including up to ninety percent of the current Baby Boomers, as well as Millennials.
Here are some key hiring strategies I have learned in my advisory role with new businesses that can make all the difference in your success today, in both the formative stages of your new business, as well as the long-term:
- Skip the career hires, focus for expertise needed now. That means starting your search through contract services sites, rather than conventional career hiring sites. Of course, as you work with contract players, explore the potential for a long-term relationship, and wait until your organization matures to pursue career positions.
- Focus on a very flat organization, with minimal hierarchy. Many entrepreneurs still believe they need a traditional multi-level organization to handle growth and scaling, so they start hiring career managers to populate it. By hiring contract experts, less oversight and coaching is needed. In addition, you need the flexibility to pivot quickly as required. Many successful new companies have moved more to self-management, or decentralizing the decision-making with few managers. Zappos, led by Tony Heish, has been a leader in this direction, and reports many advantages, as well as challenges.
- Prioritize demonstrated execution versus potential. Career hiring has traditionally focused on potential, but you need results now. Freelancers and consultants have to demonstrate results, without training and mentoring, so they can help you more quickly and probably at a lower total cost. This lets you evolve your strategy with the market.
- Seek expert talent based on the stage of your expansion. Early on, your scaling is probably within a known geography, but suddenly you may be ready for a global launch to multiple unknown cultures. You need the flexibility to quickly find specialists, rather than generalists, who have “been there and done that,” and live is these environments.
- Take advantage of world-wide sourcing of talent. Traditional career talent sourcing normally limits your geographic reach, or imposes large relocations costs and delays. Leveraging the global network will improve your odds of a highly skilled match, and bring diversity, as well as more innovative ideas and thinking to your team.
- Optimize staffing overhead and flexibility in a fluid market. Full-time employees require considerable overhead for facilities, training, severance, and benefits for performance. Today you need that budget for market fluxuations, pandemics, and product updates. In addition, these staffing issues are a major drain on your own time.
- Higher worker engagement and satisfaction. Most remote workers save two or more hours per day of travel by working from home, not to mention the improved flexibility and the reduction in time spent in meetings, and dealing with the politics and multiple bosses. Thus they feel more fulfilled, more productive, and more in control of their lives.
- Reduce your company’s impact on the environment. These days, employees are living farther and farther from your office, and their driving takes away from productive time, as well as contributing to toxic emissions. You can advertise your “greener” strategy, which today will get you greater customer loyalty and advocacy.
You all have to deal today primarily with on-demand customers in an on-demand economy. That means your company has to adapt quickly to rapidly changing needs, and new competitors world-wide. The traditional hiring model and career approach is becoming less and less effective in addressing these requirement. The alternative, involving more remote workers, is already here.
As an entrepreneur with a startup, you have the advantage of building a team from nothing, rather than trying to change a long-entrenched culture of many permanent employees who are reluctant to change. I urge you to start with today’s freelancer and remote worker approach, with an evolution to permanent employees and facilities over time. Your success and growth depends on it.