Embracing the Rise of Female Fractional Experts: A Post-Pandemic Path to Flexibility and Talent Acquisition in the Food and Beverage Industry

The world has moved beyond the initial throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, but its transformative impact on the workplace continues to reverberate. Remote work, once a temporary necessity, has given rise to lasting trends that are reshaping the way we work. From an amplified desire for work-life balance to an increased focus on holistic well-being, employees now seek greater flexibility in their professional lives. This shift has propelled individuals towards the gig economy or even self-employment. As Western economies grapple with persistently tight labor markets, talent shortages loom large in key sectors, highlighting the need for innovative solutions. In this post-pandemic era, fractional employees—also known as fractional experts—have emerged as a unique and advantageous option for both small and large companies seeking talent.

The Departure of Women from the Workplace:
While the pandemic has played a significant role in reshaping work dynamics, it is important to acknowledge that women, in particular, have been leaving the workforce for various reasons even prior to the crisis. Surprisingly, women leaders are switching jobs at unprecedented rates, surpassing their male counterparts in leadership positions. The Women in the Workplace report of 2022 reveals that women face belittling microaggressions, shoulder additional responsibilities to support employee well-being and foster inclusion, and prioritize working for companies that value flexibility, employee well-being, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Emergence of Fractional Employees:
The confluence of a tight labor market and the departure of women from traditional employment has created a unique opportunity for companies in search of talent. Enter fractional employees or fractional experts. Kantha Shelke, Principal of Corvus Blue LLC, aptly describes this trend as an opportunity for women to leverage their skills and experience without being constrained by non-negotiable demands such as motherhood or caretaker responsibilities. Fractional hiring enables enterprises to gain a competitive advantage without incurring the recruiting, hiring, and training costs typically associated with acquiring full-time employees.

Benefits for Employers and Employees:
Fractional employees offer a compelling value proposition for both employers and employees, enabling them to achieve the flexibility necessary to meet their respective needs. Companies can engage fractional experts for various purposes, such as additional staffing during peak periods, coverage for employees on leave, or to access specialized skills and expertise on a project basis. According to Tiffany Putland, Founder at Smart Start Solutions, individuals are drawn to this arrangement due to a desire for a better work-life balance and a departure from the rat race. Fractional experts can focus on projects without being burdened by unnecessary meetings or irrelevant emails, leading to heightened productivity and a stronger focus on core objectives.

Unlocking the Potential in the Food and Beverage Industry:
In times of economic uncertainty, the adoption of fractional experts represents a significant advantage for the food and beverage industry. By engaging fractional employees, companies can realize cost savings through contract work, minimize recruitment expenses, expedite the hiring process, and gain confidence in their ability to access exceptional knowledge and expertise. As Jaime Underwood, Principal of Edible Chemistry Consulting, eloquently expresses, being a fractional team member allows her to impart new knowledge and witness the empowerment and growth of employees. The lab and production floor thrive with individuals who possess the confidence to troubleshoot and make informed decisions.

The post-pandemic world demands adaptable solutions to the evolving needs of both employers and employees. Fractional experts have emerged as a powerful force in meeting these demands, offering flexibility, specialized skills, and cost-effective talent acquisition. As companies navigate the challenges of a tight labor market and changing work dynamics, embracing the rise of fractional employees becomes an essential strategy for success. By tapping into this rich talent pool, organizations can unlock exceptional knowledge, maximize productivity, and thrive in the dynamic post-pandemic landscape.

For more career resources, networking, and job opportunities, check out our membership community Females in Food. Our mission is simple – to advance women into senior leadership positions across every segment of the F&B industry and close the gender gap.

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