The Rise of the Liquid Workforce

A resourcing model designed for today's world of work

The liquid workforce is a resourcing model growing in popularity, due to its ability to enable an organisation to adapt to its customers' requirements and market conditions.

In this guide:

  • What is the Liquid Workforce?
  • The four factors of change
  • Harnessing the opportunity

What is the Liquid Workforce?

Gone are the days of the rigid organisational structure, today's forward thinking organisations are adopting a resourcing model that's much better at flexing and scaling.
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A liquid workforce is comprised of a mixture of traditional permanent employees and an adaptable mix of non-employee workers and technologies (e.g., automation, robotics). The non-employee worker component, which provides the liquidity/adaptability, is most commonly comprised of consultants, statement of work engagements and gig economy style freelancers.
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Globally, this non-employee segment is valued conservatively at $1.4trillion annually, and is estimated to be three times the size of the agency temp/contractor market.
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The four factors of change behind the liquid workforce

There are four major changes driving the move towards a liquid workforce: corporate, technology, social, regulatory.

Corporate change
The traditional organisational model/diagram as we know it dates back over 160 years and although there are various types of org chart they all share one common trait: There are clear and rigid lines denoting the relationships between business functions.

This is because the traditional, widely accepted, organisation chart, was designed to represent the structure required to manage predictable and repeatable working patterns.

The business environment has evolved significantly since the Industrial Revolution and as such it is no longer true that business is predictable, repeatable and fits the rigid relationships defined in a traditional organisational model.

Technology change
Advances in technology are creating an on-demand culture prevalent in many other areas of life - travel, food and drink, and even dating. The workplace is no longer confined to a physical location, which increases the ability for organisations to engage talent where ever they are. The cost and availability of communication, co-working and collaborative technologies have also removed the cost and complexity barriers, enabling organisations of all sizes to embrace infrastructure capable of supporting a liquid workforce.

Social change
The on-demand culture mentioned above is changing attitudes to work, meaning more people are choosing a more flexible alternative to the traditional '9-to-5'. And as more people choose to be part of the non-employee liquid workforce, organisations will need to adapt to continue to attract the best talent.

Regulatory pressure
Mounting pressure to prove that suppliers are not merely 'disguised employees', and therefore an IR35 risk, is increasingly pushing work down the more formalised routes such as statement of work engagements or freelancing via a structured in-house platform like an FMS or alternatively a marketplace.

Automation, visibility and control are key to harnessing the potential of the liquid workforce

To harness the full potential offered by liquid workforce models, automation, visibility and control are absolutely key, and technology has to form the core of an effective solution.
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With forward thinking companies looking to adopt specialist software to plug this gap in their overall workforce technology stack and others slow to react due to poor understanding or resistance to change, there will be huge benefits for those who are adaptable enough to keep pace with the speed of market change.

Useful resources

The Hidden Workforce Epidemic

A hidden workforce exists in nearly every large organisation. In this guide, we'll explore some of the issues that create an organisation's hidden workforce and look at how to begin reclaiming control.

Understanding your Applicant Funnel

As extended, off-payroll talent becomes a more and more important part of an organisations total talent strategy, understanding the Applicant Funnel is key to ensuring you make the right resourcing decisions.

How to overcome the challenges of managing a freelance workforce

Freelancers are not employees. They are not bound, or managed, by the same rules and it is common for hiring managers, line managers and operational teams to experience challenges as they start to engage a larger number of freelancers.