The contemporary enterprise finds itself relying more and more on temporary workers to achieve critical corporate objectives, more so than any other era in recent history. In fact, Ardent Partners finds that utilization of contingent, contract, and temporary workers (including freelancers) will grow by 30% over the next three years, a factor that is actively forcing business to reevaluate their existing strategies and approaches for managing this non-traditional talent.
Executives across the modern marketplace frequently ask themselves: “Is this ‘flex economy’ for real? Will we continue to use non-traditional labor for years to come?” The answer is a simple “yes.” While most business fads die out or fade away, the realm of contingent labor isn’t going away anytime too soon and is only projected to grow significantly over the next half-decade, especially as the line between traditional and non-traditional talent continues to blur.
With the economic downturn in the late 2000s, contingent labor leapt from simple, alternative workforce strategy to true enterprise savior. No longer were temporary workers considered to be of lower-tier skillsets, as freelancers and independent contractors began to leverage their unique talents to build a “flex” career: not tied down to a single organization, with the freedom to select projects or jobs out of interest instead of desperation.
There are two sides to the flex economy uprising: the business / enterprise end, and that of the freelance workers themselves. Each side has seen benefit from the other, allowing for not only a continuous increase in the utilization of non-traditional / freelance talent, but also significantly more attention to how these workers are sourced and managed for businesses and companies. Within those companies that heavily-leverage these workers, it’s not a question of “How many?” or “How much will it cost?” … it’s “Where can we find the talent that we need?”
We know that the flex economy is real because it’s reached the point where talent (and the quality of that talent) is now put ahead of cost concerns, so much so that companies now have a veritable “talent buffet” available to them from which to source the skillsets they require for critical projects and initiatives. Social media and social networks (i.e., LinkedIn), online labor marketplaces, freelancer networks, privatized talent pools … the days of staffing suppliers as the lone provider of non-traditional talent are dead.
It’s only a matter of another few years before each company can look into their overall talent pool and see an even split between traditional and non-traditional talent, full-time equivalents and freelance / temporary workers. Is the flex economy real? It sure is, and it’s not going away anytime soon.