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Flexibility Is Currency As Shift Toward Fractional Market Grows


Anita Samojednik is CEO of Paro, a startup disrupting the way companies access on-demand financial expertise

The pandemic has spurred a major shift in workers’ preferences. During this Great Resignation, workers are hungrily seeking to express their talents in their own way and to have flexibility, choice, freedom and autonomy in how they work and build their careers.

According to my company’s recent survey of more than 2,000 full-time and self-employed knowledge workers—workers whose main capital is knowledge—39% cited work-life balance as the most important element of their job in 2022, ahead of 28% who cited compensation. Furthermore, a Gallup poll showed 66% of women and 56% of men said greater work-life balance and better well-being was one of the most important factors when considering whether or not to take a job with a different organization.

The pandemic’s impact on workers’ value systems has subsequently driven them to seek a new kind of currency: flexibility on their own terms. For businesses open to exploring a new way of work, this can yield positive results.

Opportunity increases as boundaries evaporate.

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High-caliber professionals are a trademark of top-tier consulting firms and the Big Four. It’s the foundation on which their reputations rest. And it’s a long-held belief that having access to this talent is akin to a luxury, only available for a select few.

However, access to this top-tier talent is growing as knowledge workers have demonstrated that complex finance functions, such as M&A due diligence, revenue recognition, implementation of ERP systems and other functions can be performed off-site without compromising quality or deadlines.

Today’s workers no longer have to live where they work. Mymove, an affiliate of the U.S. Postal Service, analyzed the data of change-of-address requests filed between February 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020. Their analysis found that New York City experienced the highest number of outgoing movers during this period compared to those who left the city in 2019—a jump of 487%.

Growth platforms where workers can offer their services remotely have enhanced an organization’s ability to tap into a diversity of talent and expertise, unencumbered by location or commutes. As businesses are no longer restricted to identifying talent within a set radius, they can be matched with an expert whose skills and experience most closely align with their needs.

Fractional experts can hit the ground running.

From 2010 to 2019, the number of contract workers in companies increased 15%. My company’s survey cited above found that nearly one in five (17%) knowledge workers who are not currently freelancing are considering joining the freelance economy in 2022. Together, this data underscores how this movement is on its way to being normalized and demonstrates the vast opportunity and benefit the migration toward fractional talent can have for growing startups. The benefit extends to established businesses as well.

Last year saw a greater frequency of resignations than ever before, and companies still find themselves in immediate need of talent. In these scenarios, businesses should consider tapping into fractional talent, which can provide the precise expertise required to kick off operations faster. Deep experience and understanding of a specific industry’s nuances allow for an accelerated learning curve and more immediate solutions. Furthermore, the onboarding process can be expedited not only due to the fractional expert’s familiarity with the content but also their job flexibility.

Working with fractional experts can also strengthen a business’s bottom line. A business may not be able to fund a full-time role. When a business contracts with a fractional expert, it only pays per deliverable and doesn’t incur any HR-related costs like recruiting, PTO or employee benefits. While the expert and organization come to an agreement on timeline and rate, overall, the enterprise is allowed to remain focused on what’s most important—overall business strategy.

Set your business and talent up for success.

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As a leader, it can be difficult to know what levers to pull and when to successfully scale your business to ensure productivity, maintain talent and deliver for your clients. Bringing on any form of new talent—full-time, fractional, etc., may pose challenges as working styles are figured out.

The solution to many challenges that may arise is effective communication. For fractional talent, working with the expert to lay out communication preferences and cadences can help set guidelines and manage expectations. Ensure there is a clear statement of work that outlines the tasks, deliverables, timelines and the payment for the engagement. These contracts lay the groundwork for the entire project and hold both parties accountable throughout the project’s delivery.

It’s equally as important to provide talent with all the resources they need. For example, will you need to integrate them into your tech stack? By providing access to the necessary software and security procedures, contractors can quickly assimilate to how your organization processes, sends, retrieves and builds out information. Starting each engagement with a basic onboarding checklist can help make the transition easier, serve as an opportunity to build relationships and enhance overall communication.

At the end of the day, we’re now seeing that the benefits workers crave are attainable for organizations willing to adapt their traditional approach and thinking around talent. While compensation has typically been a driving factor for knowledge workers looking to switch roles and grow their careers, today’s environment highlights the sentiment that earning a larger paycheck is no longer a sufficient motivator for coping with the confines of traditional work.


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