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There’s a talent shortage. And a skills
shortage. But you know what there are plenty of? Contingent workers! We’re
talking about free agents, gig types, freelancers, contractors, independent
folks…that growing army of employer-free, entrepreneurially-minded individuals
who like the flexibility and choice of working when and where they want to –
and deciding what they will work on.
Though an amalgamated global estimate of those in the contingent workforce
is a moving target, the U.S. and Canada account for half of the world's
freelancers, with Europe coming in a not-too-distant second; around 30%. (The
McKinsey GlobaI Institute estimates that between the U.S.
and the EU, up to 162 million
individuals engage in independent work.) Asia has more than 11% of such workers; Australia and South America have more than 4%
each, and Africa, less than 2%. By 2027, it is projected that the
majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers. The numbers
are rising globally as well. That places more strain on an already limited traditional
talent pool and foretells a radical change in the way companies will be
staffing for talent and skills needs.
Leveraging contingent labor offers a business
solution that is scalable and
flexible, doesn’t require benefits, and provides access to specialized skills
on an as-needed basis, often on short notice. Diane Mulcahy, author of The Gig Economy, notes that this new workforce
phenomenon represents a potential solution to winning the war for talent, and offers
a number of potential advantages over the traditional recruiting
of full-time employees. (For example,
companies can assemble a “dream team” to come together for one project, and then disband
when it’s completed.) It may be possible
to reduce spend, heighten efficiency, and enhance performance, and you’ll be
able to track, source, schedule, and monitor performance with analytics. It can
also be a path to trying out talent in a position before formalizing the worker
as a permanent hire.
form of flexible talent is already being used by 62% of HR managers. It’s time to learn about owning this business solution!
Integrate – or
plan for – a contingent workforce management program for your company or
clients. That gives you time to learn the ropes and identify where you will
find good contingent candidates – an advantage, since you’ll have more
competition as more companies discover and tap into the on-demand worker pool. If
you see traditional talent leaving the workforce for independent work, keep
them in your circle, in case you need their talents later.
For global assignments, tax and legal issues will vary by
country. Work with counsel to clearly define what constitutes a
contingent worker, who is an employee, and who is not an employee. Spell out the parameters if any mobility
assistance is offered, how payment will be rendered, name the liabilities and
confidentiality issues (especially as contingent workers are free to work with
competitors when they leave your project) and make this knowledge a part of
your contingent worker program.
The trend lines tell the story: Using contingent talent
isn’t a matter of if, it’s a question of when you will integrate such workers
into your (or your client’s) business. Advance
planning will speed your learning and line up your resources for that moment
you’re ready to take the first steps into “contingent territory.”