As the staffing industry continues to grow and evolve, many organizations are faced with the challenge of staying current with emerging strategies for engaging contingent workers. New sourcing channels such as direct sourcing and talent platforms combined with the added segmentation and maturity of the SOW category have given buyer organizations more options to engage talent — sometimes too many to manage. This added complexity of talent engagement can be challenging for a business to navigate, but it’s just as important to think about how the talent fits with these models.

The concept of total talent has slowly been gaining momentum as companies are realizing that the overwhelming idea of implementing a total talent strategy is a mindset shift to be deployed as incremental changes in how the company thinks about labor holistically and cooperates across categories. A similar mindset shift is also occurring with the talent as they realize that there is more than one way to engage with a company. In the past, we saw that contingent workers’ main motivation was gaining full-time employment with a company, which signified security, longevity and even status. These drivers have started to shift to focus more on flexibility and independence, with workers starting to prefer contingent work over full-time employment.

As workers start to think differently about how they can perform work, many are becoming entrepreneurial by finding gig work as independent contractors. The convenience and abundance of work service platforms have provided an easy path for workers to expand beyond the standard full-time role, often leading to a more flexible model. According to SIA’s “US Gig Economy Report,” roughly 9.6 million workers — about 18% of the contingent workers in the US — used work service platforms. Meanwhile, an additional 26.5 million — over half of US contingent workers — are classifying themselves as self-employed with no employees. This is a noteworthy impetus for companies, especially ones that prohibit the use of ICs, to think more about how to leverage gig workers and lean less on traditional employment types.

Another important trend is that workers are starting to think less linearly about employment and recognizing that they don’t just need to be an employee or contractor — they can be both. With the rise of talent platforms and the availability of gig work, workers are thinking carefully about how they divide their time across these engagement models. Our recent temporary worker survey suggests that nearly all contingent workers perform their temporary roles in addition to a permanent full-time or part-time job, another temporary assignment or a work service platform.

This change is important for buyer organizations to recognize and plan for, especially when we think about our talent pipelines. Previous siloed approaches have kept populations of potential employees separate from potential contingent workers and independent contractors. Moving forward, we need to be cautious not to assign a universal engagement type to these candidates and keep an open mind about how a single resource could support the organization in many engagement capacities. Allow talent to have seamless access to all available opportunities and the ability to self-designate the engagement models they prefer/qualify for. Consider building a single repository such as an applicant tracking system, customer relationship manager or talent pool for these workers, with visibility given to each sourcing channel. Implementing changes to be more dynamic about your talent populations requires collaboration and cooperation across talent channels and can become another stepping stone to total talent.