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There's a battle being waged in today's economy, and you may have already felt some of the casualties in your own business.

The prize is a limited group of people who possess in-demand technical skills — and organizations are duking it out for them. HR departments must create increasingly compelling compensation packages to attract and retain these highly prized IT employees.

Talent Wars and the Gig Economy

At Appirio, we decided to find out just how these “talent wars" are affecting businesses, what issues matter most to executives and IT staff, and how those issues may differ. We partnered with Wakefield Research on the “Talent Wars and the Gig Economy" survey, in which 400 individuals were surveyed this summer — including 200 U.S. and U.K. C-level executives at companies with more than 500 employees, and 200 U.S. and U.K. IT staff at companies with more than 500 employees.

Unsurprisingly, both executives and IT staff overwhelmingly agree that recruiting and retaining IT talent is a significant problem within their organizations. In fact, 90 percent of the C-suite and 82 percent of IT staff surveyed said it is a top business challenge within their organizations. As if the recruiting battle isn't challenging enough, poaching appears to be a big problem, too.

Executives suspect that their IT employees are being approached by recruiters on a regular basis, and it looks like they're right — more than half of the IT staff surveyed estimated that recruiters contact their peers an average of six times per month. This constant IT turnover and fight for top talent is not only affecting businesses' bottom lines, it's also hindering their ability to innovate.

Bridging the Talent Gap with Crowdsourcing

Everyone's heard the old saying, “Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Rather than businesses putting a huge chunk of their IT resources into securing these highly skilled employees (and gambling on whether or not they hired the right person), many organizations are bridging the talent gap by usingcrowdsourcing as a way to scale innovation.

There is certainly no lack of top talent in the global crowd. Many of the world's most talented IT professionals are choosing nontraditional paths to monetize their skills. The rise of the so-called “Gig Economy" has empowered workers to maximize their freedom and take work into their own hands. And the C-Suite has already taken note: 83 percent say that by 2050 the economy will shift toward gig-based work, rather than projects done by full-time employees.

The tactics companies are using to win top talent, such as well-padded compensation packages, fail to address what these individuals really want: a flexible and individualized worker experience. In fact, 81 percent of the IT workers in our survey said that they're more likely to leave a job because of a lack of flexibility than because of unsatisfactory compensation.

The Future Is Now

The future of work is about breaking free from traditional ideologies of what “work" should be. Embracing mobility and creating a flexible, collaborative culture can help you attract those exceptional individuals that you want on your payroll. And crowdsourcing allows you to fill in the gaps — with some of the world's top talent — while giving you the power to innovate like never before. Ready or not, the future of work is here. And it's up to leadership to embrace it — or be left behind.

Photo: Creative Commons