Points of View

Navigate the talent crisis with crowdsourcing, or fall behind the pack

Jul 3, 2019 Sam Duncan


By now, we all know that the ever-accelerating evolution of technology means new waves of talent are in constant demand. This relentless shifting of the labor market has created a generation of workers who are exploiting the disequilibrium to strengthen their position; the most common demand is an improved work-life balance. However, enterprise talent strategies have changed relatively little. Exhibit 1 shows that the majority of enterprises aren’t looking beyond traditional methods of building talent.


If enterprises want to expand their talent pools, they must look beyond traditional methods. Crowdsourcing can offer the flexibility workers desire while driving down operating costs. Wipro describes crowdsourcing, in a recruitment sense, as an opportunity shared among a group of people and the individual who produces the best work gets paid, rather than as the stereotypical gathering of individuals to raise capital for new and cool startups on platforms like Kickstarter.



Exhibit 1: Less than a third of enterprise are considering crowdsourcing for talent


Beyond traditional avenues (standard recruitment, contracting, traditional service providers) how else are you looking to augment your talent pool?



Source: HFS Research in Conjunction with KPMG, "State of Operations and Outsourcing 2018”
Sample: Enterprise Operations Leaders = 381



87% of all full-time employees either already work flexibly or say they want to—work-life balance is a priority.


The development of portable technologies has made it possible for employees to take their work anywhere. Enterprises benefit by having 24/7 access to their workforce, while employees can add a flexible element to their work. It’s easy to see the attraction—an improved work-life balance has obvious perks. In fact, the demand for flexible working was proven by PwC, which developed a Flexible Talent Network that allowed workers to list their skills and preferred working patterns upon applying. Within a fortnight, there were over 2,000 registered users.


Flexible working also benefits employers, especially through improved productivity. An HSBC survey found that 89% of British workers believe flexible working hours improve motivation and productivity. If enterprises hope to remain relevant in today’s job market, attract the best talent, and boost their productivity, they should explore new methods of recruitment–crowdsourcing could top the list.


Crowdsourcing provides the flexibility demanded by the new generation of workers.


Over 50% of the UK workforce wants to eradicate the traditional 9 to 5 working day, signaling to enterprise leaders that times are changing. There has been a blatant shift in workers’ demands, and if enterprises continue to ignore them, they will face a significantly smaller talent pool.


Enterprises must consider the relevance of their recruitment processes by exploring the crowdsourcing of talent


An example of this type of “recruitment crowdsourcing” in action is TopCoder, a platform allowing enterprises to advertise jobs that individuals may compete for by completing a relevant task. The enterprise then selects a winner based on the quality of work produced—only this worker will receive payment.


Crowdsourcing brings a host of enterprise benefits that range from productivity to cost efficiency and more


For skilled and in-demand workers, crowdsourcing is a no-brainer; it offers the complete flexibility to select their own jobs, fitted around their personal lives. Rational workers who lack the necessary skills will likely not compete. For your enterprise, this means most attempts will be completed by the most talented workers in the field, ultimately leading to a higher quality of candidates to select from – although there are always exceptions and on occasion under-skilled workers my attempt the task.


Furthermore, it offers your enterprise the agility to remain relevant in an ever-changing, hyper-connected economy. As our previous research discusses, hordes of graduates are struggling to keep pace with evolving technologies. Upon completing a three-year degree, they often find that technology has progressed and their skills are no longer a priority for employers. Enterprises are facing a constant struggle to find employees with necessary technical knowledge in traditional recruitment channels. Leveraging crowdsourcing means they can look beyond qualifications and give workers the opportunities to prove their abilities. Whether they learned them from a YouTube tutorial or their neighbor is irrelevant, the only consideration is the outcome.


Navigating the realm of crowdsourcing isn’t without problems—always have a contingency plan


Crowdsourcing is understandably appealing, posting a job and waiting for a range of workers to compete for the privilege of payment. The cost savings are clear; however, enterprises must understand that flexible working is a two-way street. Upon posting a task, they could be greeted with a tumbleweed response with no individuals willing to complete the task for the payment offered. By relying entirely on this model, enterprises leave themselves at the mercy of supply and demand—fewer skilled workers mean larger payments.


Your enterprise must have a contingency plan, such as employing certain workers who can be trained to fill in necessary areas when required, ensuring you are not entirely reliant on crowdsourcing. Intensifying competition throughout today’s markets means time-to-market can be everything—being held hostage by the labor market will likely condemn many new enterprise initiatives.


While there are many jobs that you can offer on crowdsourcing platforms, some rely on an individual fitting into company culture and building relationships with colleagues and business partners. This means that an enterprise must choose wisely when crowdsourcing work; incorrectly used, it can have unfavorable effects.


The Bottom Line: Leverage crowdsourcing to move towards an outcome-based model and drive down operating costs. But be cautious—don’t let the labor market hold you hostage.


Talent isn’t a top priority for many enterprises when ensuring their operations align with the digital world (see Exhibit 2), which could prove a costly mistake.


If your enterprise remains ignorant to the talent crisis and refuses to move beyond traditional methods of recruitment, you risk being rendered obsolete in the hyper-connected economy. If you use it correctly, crowdsourcing can satisfy workers’ continued demand for flexibility, improve output quality, and drive down operating costs.



Exhibit 2: Talent is at the bottom of list for enterprise trying to ensure their operations align with the increasingly digital world.


Which of the following actions are you making to ensure your operations align more with the increasingly digital world.




Source: HFS Research in Conjunction with KPMG, "State of Operations and Outsourcing 2018”
Sample: Enterprise Operations Leaders = 381

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