With the new administration taking office soon, it’s anyone’s guess (and boy are people guessing) what will become of the economy in the near future. At present, though, the “gig economy” appears to be alive and well.
While it doesn’t seem like the experts agree on an exact definition of a gig economy, the general gist is that rather than generating income from a single employment source, a large group of the workforce now prefers the freedom to choose one “gig” at a time from multiple sources. These can be single, short-term jobs, long-term contract jobs or ongoing, individual assignments that provide an opportunity for being self-employed.
Contingent Workers on the Rise
All types of people and styles of work—freelancers, contract workers, seasonal workers, part-time help, consultants, interns and so on—help make up the gig economy. The terms “contingent workers” and “non-employee workers” are often used to describe the variety of individuals in this group.
And the number of these contingent workers just keeps growing. A 2014 survey by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk found that more than 53 million workers in the United States do freelance work. And it’s predicted that by 2020 the number will reach 60 million. It has also been reported that over 80 percent of large corporations are planning to significantly increase their use of contingent workers.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor conducted a study of contingent workers recently, and it has estimated that approximately 40 percent of the nation’s workers fall into this class.
What Does this Mean for Businesses?
In an interview with CIO.com, Arun Srinivasan, senior vice president of Strategy and Customer Operations of SAP Fieldglass, said “The changing needs of today’s workers, the war for talent and the globalization of the workforce are just a few reasons that today’s technology is evolving so rapidly. All of these forces are driving workforce management to the top of the business agenda, especially as talent becomes a true differentiator for organizations.”
Companies need to get more adept at connecting with contingent workers through mobile apps and be willing to search for non-traditional employees on online labor marketplaces and freelancer networks like Upwork, FlexJobs, Toptal and Guru; as well as social media.
Taking a play from the books of Amazon, Netflix and digital cable, today’s contingency workers can be thought of as “on-demand” workers. Companies that hire seasonal workers, have a lot of flux in their workforce needs, or occasionally need help on a project-basis can benefit from this more flexible working style that lets them hire individuals on an as-needed basis rather than carrying full-time employees.
Turning to recruiters who excel at understanding business needs and matching those needs to workers’ skills and requirements is also going to get more important.
What do Recruiters and Staffers Need to do?
Technology is reinventing how traditional staffing works. If you’re not looking at E-staffing and temporary labor markets you run the risk of getting left behind. Knowing what clients need and being able to provide it for them is still your focus, but you’ll need to be open to new platforms as well as the new goals and interests of the contingent workforce.
Ramping up talent pools is incredibly important in the gig economy since many people aren’t looking for traditional jobs in the traditional ways. It’s up to recruiter and staffers to continually collect and analyze data about active and passive job seekers so they can be pre-qualified and enticed by information sent to them about interesting jobs they are likely to be well-matched for.
In addition, recruiters will need to be more adept than ever at selling their own and their clients’ brands, and building and nurturing relationships with candidates. You need to ensure that you have systems in place to support businesses and efficiently manage this growing segment of workers. Providing companies with strategies and solutions for connecting with contingent talent, pre-screening and interviewing, tracking information and seamlessly hiring will be essential for the success of recruiters and the organizations they work with.
All in all, it looks like recruiters and employers who know how to appeal to and build relationships with this on-demand segment are going to be very much in-demand as contingent worker populations continue to rise.
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