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Hiring trends for 2016: Welcome to the gig economy

Sarah K. White | Feb. 25, 2016
According to a recent study on hiring trends, the number of workers hired as freelance or contract workers has risen in the past two years, and it’s expected to increase.

The future of the job market lies in non-employee workers, according to a study from Fieldglass, a software company that provides vendor management systems, in partnership with Ardent Partners, a research and advisory firm. The study, which surveyed 210 business professionals at small, medium and large businesses, found that as of 2015, "nearly 35 percent of today's total workforce is comprised of non-employee workers," which includes temps, freelancers, contractors and statement of work-based labor. As a result, 95 percent of businesses now view this new workforce as a key element to developing and running a successful business, which means big changes for hiring trends in the coming year.

"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," says Arun Srinivasan, senior vice president of Strategy and Customer Operations of SAP Fieldglass. The study notes that this is a relatively recent trend, because just a few years ago the bulk of a business' employee base was made up of full-time workers, while non-employees were used less often. But thanks to online hiring platforms, more businesses have found it easy to connect with and hire temp workers.

In search of gig workers

The biggest sources that companies use to find this new class of talent includes online labor marketplaces, freelancer networks, job boards, "in network" talent and social media. "By understanding where this talent exists, how it can be engaged, and the general parameters of how it should be managed, they will be able to drive additional value from the wealth of skillsets available in the on-demand talent marketplace," the study reports.

Thanks to the "on-demand" nature of these services, it's only helped intensify the popularity of freelancers, contract workers and other non-traditional hires. Employers can search profiles, post opportunities and quickly connect with candidates without much effort or expense.

These networks also offer employers a resource to find workers with specific skills they need for a project. The study points out how easy it is for employers to go online, post a job opportunity and list specific skills to find the right person. Instead of having internal employees work on something they might not be interested in or qualified for, businesses can get short term hires for highly specific projects.

When it comes time to get results from these non-employee workers, businesses can often just use the same website that they used to hire a freelancer or contractor. The study emphasizes the capability to not only manage projects through many of these websites, but also to safely and securely send payment. This ultimately eliminates any concerns employers might have about hiring a remote worker who isn't necessarily a permanent part of the team or who is working virtually.


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