Published Date: 03/31/2014
By Pat Rountree
The contingent workforce is changing.
Contingent workers include staffing agency employees, independent contractors, consultants, freelancers and generally workers who are not direct hires with an ongoing employment relationship.
The recession of 2009 and slow recovery caused businesses to move cautiously in adding headcount. Many businesses moved to more contingent workers as a hedge against the slow recovery. The contingent workforce has continued to grow since then, and there are some estimates that contingent workers will represent nearly half the workforce by 2020.
The benefits for businesses are flexibility in hiring skilled workers as needed to meet project needs that are not ongoing without adding to fixed costs. Technology has enabled businesses to more easily search for and recruit contingent talent.
However, another change is taking place. Many workers are contingent by choice. This work lifestyle offers opportunities to use their skills and experience personal growth through exposure to different business environments. Contingent workers like the flexibility, opportunity to manage their career and make more money (for those with in-demand talent).
Who makes up the contingent workforce?
- Remote talent made available through technology
- Older workers who no longer want to work full time but have knowledge, skills and abilities that are valuable and marketable to businesses on a consulting basis
- Millenials who do not expect or want to work for one employer for more than 15 to 18 months, and who also want rapid career growth, work-life balance and to be free agents
- Those who make a temporary lifestyle for a time-out from regular work while staying at home with children, caregiving or other personal responsibilities
- Workers that are unable to find regular employment and are contingent workers by necessity
As businesses and workers change, there can be a win-win. Businesses can recruit talent to supplement the regular workforce and take on unique projects that are outside the skills or talent available in-house. This allows them to ramp up or scale down quickly to meet demand without affecting core employees. And, individuals with desirable talent and skills can take advantage of the contingent workforce market by actively managing their career without being tied down to a long-term commitment.