02/02/2017 07:28 EST | Updated 02/02/2017 07:28 EST

3 Ways Your SMB Will Win The Talent War In 2017

The conversation on the gig economy is often directed towards talent recruiters, HR managers and team leads but for the freelance relationship to be successful, organizations need to cultivate a genuine project mindset across their teams.

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Recruiting and retaining top talent remains one of the most effective ways to strengthen your organization's resilience against economic turbulence and global uncertainty in the year ahead.

A highly talented and nimble team is the best investment in innovation and the ability to successfully leverage unexpected opportunities. This is also the reason why recent studies confirm that talent acquisition and HR leaders all expect hiring volumes to increase in 2017. It will remain a core priority and one happening in a hiring landscape increasingly defined across sectors and levels by the contract or gig economy.

Multiple studies from Intuit to the Freelancers Union have now predicted that the workforce will soon be made up of 40 per cent freelancers. One of the ripple effects of this shift is that 93 per cent of companies already report having a "blended work force" (which refers to freelancers working with full time employers.)

For SMB's contractors or part-time senior executives are by far the most efficient and effective way to access top talent to solve problems, drive special projects and tap into a more diverse work force.

Recent research and our trend analysis suggests that to amplify this advantage SMB's should also keep the following three key trends in mind:

1. Focus On Finding A Values Fit:

There is a growing body of research which shows that the key factor that defines whether a business has a market leading workforce is the level and extent of their overall "employee values fit".

A hiring "fit" is not about hiring a homogenous group of employees (research confirms this has a direct negative impact on literally every metric of success). Instead, the focus should be on shared values and the behaviours which then manifest these values.

This is especially true for SMB's where the right group cohesion and engagement is more directly felt across the organization.

A recent survey found that 67 per cent of employees believe "it is very important or essential to my ideal job" that their employer has similar values.

An environment of shared values results in higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment and much lower turn-over. Deliberately mapping these factors into the recruitment process does not have to be difficult - as an increasing range of online platforms and tools allow employers to quickly but effectively explore leadership styles, preferences, work strengths and personal priorities.

2. Foster A Project Mindset Across The Team:

The conversation on the gig economy is often directed towards talent recruiters, HR managers and team leads but for the freelance relationship to be successful, organizations need to cultivate a genuine project mindset across their teams.

On a meta level this means understanding that contractors and freelancers are increasingly the result of both a deliberate career decision and top talent clustering - a shift that The Harvard Business Review describes as the "rise of the super-temp."

Practically, one of the best ways to foster a project mindset in SMB's is to clearly delineate to everyone (regardless of whether they will be directly impacted) the deliverables or outcomes that the person(s) will be responsible for and who they will be reporting to and working with.

This lets everyone be on the same page in terms of how the team should fit together and provides the opportunity for the full team to appreciate how they will benefit from collaborating with them.

3. Prioritize Hiring For EQ:

Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient refers to an individuals ability to recognize the emotions around them and then to use and understand that information to guide both thoughts and actions in relation to other people or desired outcomes.

It is also steadily rising in the importance of hiring senior leadership.

The reason is that a growing body of research has shown that technical skills are secondary to EQ in terms of work place effectiveness and team goal delivery - since an individuals EQ shapes their leadership style, engagement and subsequently, the group dynamic.

Deliberately cultivating a high EQ environment is a strong strategy for SMB's looking to create an environment that allows consultants and freelancers to nimbly integrate into the culture and style of the group and to do so in a way that enables them to effectively drive value.

In 2017 SMB's should look to apply these three trends in all their hiring choices but especially with freelance and gig economy outreach.

SMB's would do well to also actively increase engagement with the gig economy. It is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to break up group think and bring a fresh perspective to a project or internal initiative. For small and mid-sized businesses it is an opportunity to increase impact and profits in a way that is both cost effective and creative.

Michael Carter is the co-founder of Kahuso, an online platform they built to help accomplished executives find part-time, interim, advisory and board opportunities.

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