Associations are often laggards to the latest trends in business. That might not be a popular thing to espouse on this blog, but it’s true. From technology to management philosophy to organizational structure, most associations are traditionalists. They would rather err on the side of caution rather than push the envelope. A perfect example of this is the on-demand economy, which few associations have yet to leverage.
Sure, most association employees know all about Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. In fact, several probably use these companies for their travel needs when attending a conference. However, many wonder if this model is relevant to associations, and few incorporate these principles into their own organizations.
Several people in the association industry might believe the on-demand economy is a trend—a bubble waiting to burst. Their attitude is they can sit on the sideline and watch this fad pass with no impact to their organization or business. My belief is that this approach is unequivocally wrong. Rather than asking “will the on-demand economy revolutionize associations?” we should be asking how and when. One of the biggest areas this will impact is hiring new talent.
Decrease Hiring Costs
Everyone knows getting a job is a full-time job, but so is hiring for an open role within your organization! First, you have to gain approval to hire, which requires going through a justification, a budgeting process, and often times a re-justification and second budgeting process. Once you gain approval to hire, you have to prepare a job description, work with HR to post the description on-line, conduct interviews (and 2nd and 3rd round interviews…), review any required technical deliverables to ensure applicants’ competency, extend an offer, negotiate, and if all goes according to plan, hire the individual that you’ve invested months (or years) in finding.
And that’s only the beginning. Now comes the onboarding, training, and other tasks designed to get your new hire up-to-speed. Six months into this endeavor you haven’t actually completed any of the work you planned to assign to your new hire!
I’m certainly not advocating that association hiring consist of outsourcing your entire workforce, but surely there is a better use of time and energy than the senario described above. Rather than feeling a need to hire for every role, leverage on-demand resources when needed, and only focus on hiring for strategic positions that focus on the core mission.
Increase Flexibility by Specialization
OK, so you decided to hire a new team member anyway. You have a pretty good idea of the general skills required for the specific projects over the next year, but what about the year after that. Or five years down the road? How can you know you’re hiring the right person for projects you haven’t even considered yet?
That’s where the on-demand economy comes into play. Rather than try to get one person who fits every imaginable role, the on-demand economy allows you to find workers who fulfill your present specific needs.
Focus on Interesting Work and get S#@% Done!
I’ve traveled all over the country talking to different association employees: executives, business leaders, and individual contributors alike. The number one thing they express to me is a feeling of being mired and stuck in a rut. Everyone has a list of projects they are passionate about. Projects that are cool, innovative, and will move the needle for their association. Projects that go unfinished and unstarted. Projects that remain incomplete. Projects that never get done.
The reason these projects sit on a shelf is we always approach completing them the same way, by increasing headcount. By adding staff to offload maintenance tasks until we assume we’ll be able to focus on the work that is really interesting to us and get more done. This belief comes from the best of intentions, but often in reality the exact opposite happens. Adding staff simply adds to the backlog of work you’re expected to complete, and we still aren’t focused on the interesting projects.
At Aptify, we believe one of the ways associations can move the needle is by ensuring everyone is focused on areas they are passionate about within their core business. A fast way to achieve this in the on-demand economy is by outsourcing routine maintenance tasks and administrative support as needed. Associations are not immune to the on-demand economy, and cannot sit on the sidelines.
The associations that figure out how to leverage this new economic engine for their business and members will help position their organization for success over the next several years.
To learn how one association has successfully adopted on-demand hiring practices, check out the case study: