In the wake of ongoing skills shortages across the United States and United Kingdom, enterprises face an imperative to evolve their traditional operating models. The concept of the “Sharing Enterprise,” a revolutionary approach to human resource management, presents an opportunity to transform the workforce landscape by promoting skills development, employee engagement, and operational efficiency.
This white paper examines the potential of the Sharing Enterprise, discussing the potential benefits of staff sharing to fulfil short-term gigs at other companies when there is extra capacity. It proposes that this model could potentially not only save costs but also generate additional revenue, aiding in talent retention and workforce upskilling. This could be the defining workforce model for the Future of Work.
The tech skills gap continues to widen, with demand for specialised skills rapidly outpacing supply. Traditional workforce models have proven insufficient in bridging this gap, and enterprises are experiencing increased pressure to retain and upskill their talent to remain competitive. In response, forward-thinking enterprises are beginning to explore new paradigms, such as the Sharing Enterprise. AI may be seen as the biggest driver to workforce change in the next decade but the Sharing Enterprise powered with AI technology such as Internal Talent Marketplaces could be the game changer.
The Sharing Enterprise: A Definition and Catalysts
A Sharing Enterprise operates by sharing its employees’ skills and capabilities across external organisations when there is excess capacity. This could involve assigning employees to short-term projects at different companies – effectively enabling them to participate in ‘side-hustles’ or ‘gigs’ while remaining under the employment of the parent company.
The rise of the gig economy and the growing side-hustle culture are significant catalysts for the evolution of the Sharing Enterprise. With the gig economy already introducing a shift in traditional employment relationships, there is a growing acceptance among employees towards flexible, project-based work. A trend already seen with Gen Z workers.
The increasing propensity of employees, particularly among younger generations, to seek variety in work and engage in side-hustles complements the Sharing Enterprise model. This culture nurtures a workforce that is adaptable, self-motivated, and skilled in various domains, thereby positioning them to thrive in the collaborative and fluid structure of a Sharing Enterprise.
Furthermore, this trend empowers employees to actively shape their career trajectories, pick diverse projects that align with their skills and interests, and continuously acquire new skills. This not only enriches their personal growth but also enhances their value to the parent company. Thus, the gig economy and side-hustle culture serve as potent accelerants, driving the transition towards the Sharing Enterprise model and shaping the future of work.
Benefits of the Sharing Enterprise
There are many benefits of creating a Sharing Enterprise model:
Cost Savings and Revenue Generation: The Sharing Enterprise model offers significant financial benefits. It mitigates overhead costs associated with under-utilised staff by monetising excess capacity, transforming idle time into a revenue stream. Furthermore, it provides access to a diverse range of skills on-demand, eliminating the need for as many permanent employment contracts and associated costs such as hiring, onboarding, and training. Additionally, the reduction in full-time roles leads to lower fixed costs, further enhancing the company’s financial agility. This would also help reduce the mass lay-offs we have seen so far in 2023.
Creation of a New Revenue Stream: Sharing Enterprises effectively introduce a consulting revenue stream. By sharing skilled staff with other enterprises, companies can monetise their expertise much like a consulting firm. This not only provides additional income but also diversifies revenue sources, reducing financial risk.
Talent Retention: The Sharing Enterprise model enhances employee engagement and satisfaction. By providing opportunities to work on varied projects across different companies, employees encounter new challenges and environments, reducing monotony and risk of burnout. This diversity in experience can increase job satisfaction, leading to improved talent retention.
Upskilling and Cross-Skilling: The exposure to various industries and projects within the Sharing Enterprise model fosters a wide array of skills among employees. This cross-pollination of skills and knowledge expedites workforce upskilling, preparing employees to meet the ever-evolving demands of the tech industry. It also promotes a culture of continuous learning, which is attractive to the modern workforce.
Optimised Workforce Management: The Sharing Enterprise model encourages better workforce management by maintaining a lean, highly-skilled full-time workforce, supplemented by on-demand talent as per business needs. This flexibility allows for more efficient operations and adaptability to market changes.
These benefits illustrate how the Sharing Enterprise model can revolutionise workforce management, yielding financial benefits, enhancing talent development, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.
Roadmap to the Sharing Enterprise
Transitioning to a Sharing Enterprise requires strategic and thoughtful planning. Key steps include:
Invest in a robust workforce management system: Such a system should be capable of tracking employees’ skills, capacities, and schedules to ensure efficient allocation of resources.
Establish an Internal Talent Marketplace: An internal talent marketplace, integrated with your Human Resource Information System (HRIS), acts as a crucial catalyst in implementing the Sharing Enterprise model. Such a marketplace allows employees to list their skills, experiences, and interests and match them with short-term projects within your organisation or externally. This facilitates efficient resource allocation, encourages cross-functional collaborations and supports the development of a multi-skilled workforce.
The integration of the talent marketplace with your HRIS ensures seamless data flow, enabling real-time updates on employees’ capabilities, performance, and availability. This makes it easier to identify potential matches for project requirements and manage talent mobility across organisations. Additionally, it offers valuable insights into skills gaps, allowing targeted initiatives for learning and development.
Build a culture of continuous learning: Promote a learning ecosystem where employees are encouraged and incentivised to acquire new skills, adaptable to diverse environments.
Establish partnerships with other enterprises: Collaborative relationships with other organisations are crucial to enable resource sharing.
Develop clear policies: Rules governing the allocation of employees, conflict of interest, intellectual property, and confidentiality need to be established to ensure smooth operations.
The establishment and successful implementation of a Sharing Enterprise model rely heavily on the infrastructure supporting it. An internal talent marketplace, integrated with your HRIS, serves as a central hub for mobilising, monitoring, and managing talent. This fosters an environment that encourages continual learning and collaboration, making it a vital component of the Sharing Enterprise roadmap.
Key Roles in the Sharing Enterprise Model
To operationalise the Sharing Enterprise model effectively, several pivotal roles must be established. These roles facilitate the smooth functioning of the model, from identifying potential partner organisations to managing resources and ensuring commercial viability.
Partnership Manager: The Partnership Manager is essential in creating an ecosystem conducive to the Sharing Enterprise model. They are responsible for building strategic relationships with other enterprises open to the concept of resource sharing. This requires excellent relationship management, negotiation skills, and a keen understanding of both their own organisation’s capabilities and those of potential partners.
PMO (Project Management Office) Manager: The PMO Manager oversees project execution across the sharing enterprise. They ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget, whilst maintaining the quality standards of the parent company. They also coordinate between various stakeholders, manage risks, and handle project-related issues, facilitating smooth project transitions and delivery.
Resource Manager: The Resource Manager plays a critical role in the effective allocation of human resources across the shared projects. They track the skill sets, availability, and project preferences of employees to match them with suitable projects. In addition, they maintain a balance between the company’s needs and employee preferences, ensuring optimal utilisation of resources.
Commercial Manager: The Commercial Manager oversees the financial aspects of the Sharing Enterprise model. They are responsible for establishing rate cards, tracking timesheets, and managing invoicing processes. They ensure the commercial viability of the model by negotiating rates, overseeing billing processes, and addressing any financial issues that may arise.
Each of these roles represents a cog in the intricate machinery of the Sharing Enterprise. By working together, they help to create a robust system where employees can be effectively shared between organisations, adding value to all parties involved and contributing to the overall success of the Sharing Enterprise model.
Implementing the Sharing Enterprise: A Pilot Project
One effective approach to implement the Sharing Enterprise model is to start with a pilot project. A pilot not only provides an opportunity to test the model within a controlled environment but also enables the organisation to learn and adapt before a full-scale rollout.
Step 1: Identify a Suitable Team for the Pilot
Starting with a small, specialised team – such as software developers, product designers, or data engineers – is a practical first step. These professionals typically possess a high degree of adaptability and are often experienced in project-based work, making them ideal candidates for this new model.
Step 2: Establish a Partnership
Identify an enterprise in a non-competing industry that is also interested in piloting the Sharing Enterprise concept. This mutual interest lays a strong foundation for partnership, paving the way for successful resource sharing.
Step 3: Gauge Employee Interest
Understand which employees from both companies are open to participating in a side-hustle at the partner company. This could be achieved through surveys or one-on-one discussions to gauge their interest and willingness to adapt to this new working model.
Step 4: Deploy an Internal Talent Marketplace
Put all interested employees on an internal talent marketplace. This platform should showcase their skills, experiences, and interests, facilitating effective matching with suitable projects in the partner company. The talent marketplace not only shares skills but also initiates conversations and collaborations.
Step 5: Assign a PMO Manager
Assign a Project Management Office (PMO) Manager to oversee the pilot project. The PMO Manager would be responsible for coordinating between the two companies, tracking progress, managing resources, and handling any issues that may arise during the project.
Step 6: Track Progress and Learn
The PMO Manager should provide progress updates every 4 weeks throughout the 6-month pilot period. This regular review enables real-time learning, timely course correction, and helps gather valuable insights that could inform the eventual implementation of the model across the organisation.
By undertaking this pilot project, organisations can gain firsthand experience of the Sharing Enterprise model, better understand its implications and benefits, and tailor their approach before implementing it more broadly. This practical, step-by-step approach reduces risk and increases the likelihood of successful adoption.
While the Sharing Enterprise presents numerous potential benefits, it’s important to consider possible challenges and risks that could arise in this innovative model:
1. Intellectual Property and Confidentiality Issues: Employees working on projects for different companies can inadvertently disclose sensitive information or trade secrets, leading to potential breaches of confidentiality and intellectual property issues. Strict policies must be put in place to safeguard corporate interests.
2. Conflict of Interest: An employee working with two companies might encounter situations where the interests of both companies diverge. This could potentially lead to conflicts of interest, and managing such scenarios will be a challenge.
3. Quality Control and Accountability: When employees split their time between multiple companies, it could become challenging to maintain quality control and manage accountability. If a project fails or if there are performance issues, identifying and rectifying the root cause might prove difficult.
4. Employee Overload and Burnout: Although the Sharing Enterprise model may offer varied experiences, if not managed properly, it might lead to employee overload. Employees could face burnout due to managing different expectations, work cultures, and tasks.
5. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Different companies are subject to different regulations and legal requirements, and an employee working for multiple companies needs to be aware of and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. This complexity could lead to potential compliance issues.
While these risks present potential challenges, they can be mitigated with the right controls and policies. It’s important for companies to approach the Sharing Enterprise model with a comprehensive risk management strategy to capitalise on its benefits while minimising potential downsides.
The Sharing Enterprise concept is a potential game-changer in navigating the skills gap and workforce challenges of the future. By allowing large enterprises to tap into under-utilised resources, it offers a new paradigm that could lead to a more efficient, adaptable, and resilient workforce. With careful planning and execution, the Sharing Enterprise may indeed be the next big development in the Future of Work.
Bold leadership is required!
About The Author
Rich Wilson is a Future of Work enthusiast having been a senior executive at Allegis Group and Gartner. Rich is also the CEO and C-Founder of Gigged.AI, the AI-powered Talent Platform.