Reshaping the L&D Team: How the Gig Economy Is Changing Our Learning Organizations

🕑 3 minutes read | Nov 16 2020 | By Becky Gendron

In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz around the rise of the gig economy. Organizations across all industries work tirelessly to craft a team comprised of expert talent with diverse skill sets. However, many have a unique resource or talent need and discover that they do not have the appropriate expertise — or enough people — to complete the project. The gig economy provides a solution to this problem. Leveraging a broader pool of talent enables organizations to more easily meet client needs, provide talent in virtually any location and access a specialized skill set by leveraging subject matter experts. These and other benefits will continue to fuel the growth of the gig economy.

FreshBooks research from 2017 predicted that self-employment in the U.S. would triple to 42 million in 2020. Using independent contractors to fill talent gaps in full-time networks or meet a client’s unique, temporary needs is a strategy that will play a significant role in the way learning and development (L&D) organizations function.

A Blended Talent Pool

Organizations are beginning to shift their focus toward leading, coordinating, and optimizing the talent within their organization in the most efficient way. In fact, in Deloitte’s 2019 “Global Human Capital Trends” survey, 33% of respondents reported “extensively using alternative arrangements” for information technology (IT), 25% for operations, 15% for marketing, and 15% for research and development.

“A primary role of the learning leader is one of curation — finding the right approaches, assembling the right team, and evaluating the talent and competencies that will be required for the future,” said Michael Noble, chief learning strategist, and chief operating officer at TTA. Blending your talent pool with independent contractors and full-time employees can help your organization become more agile, competitive, and cost-efficient.

A Culture of Learning

Blending your workforce can also directly benefit employees. Possibly the greatest advantage of effectively managing your full talent portfolio is that you are contributing to the learning culture within your organization. Full-time employees have the opportunity to gain knowledge from a contracted worker who may have a unique, highly specialized set of skills and experience. This transfer of knowledge is an invaluable asset to the organization but also to the employees.

7 Ways to Leverage the Gig Economy in Learning and Development

  1. Address a surging need, such as a large-scale change in your organization.
  2. Look for a specialized skill set that your full-time workforce does not have.
  3. Bring in temporary resources for short-term needs, where a full-time employee is not necessary.
  4. Expand the reach of your workforce to field offices or global locations.
  5. Benchmark organizational and team practices by working directly with consultants of varying backgrounds.
  6. Upskill teams on new learning technologies or tools through knowledge-sharing.
  7. Increase the agility of employees to respond quickly to stakeholders.

The gig economy is rapidly growing and, in the process, shifting the way L&D organizations operate. This flexible, scalable, and cost-effective strategy to blend contingent workers with your full-time staff can bring great benefits to your training team and to your entire organization.

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