What is the gig economy? And why is this important? The term has been floating around for a few years now, and next month is Staffing Industry Analysts’ second conference dedicated to the concept. We tell you why this concept is taking up so much mindshare and not just in the media.

While one might think the term gig economy would be restricted to task-related work sourced online (that data entry you need done or that recorded phone call you need to have transcribed), SIA believes that any work that is done by someone other than a traditional employee can be considered part of the gig economy. In other words, “contingent work” and “gig economy” are synonymous, and account for $792 billion in annual spend in 2015, according to SIA data.

Numbers aside, this way of thinking is significant because it lends itself to a new paradigm around work and how we get it done. In the early days, temp work was typically made up of lower-skilled roles with higher turnover rates than those roles that required more formalized training and experience. Then, distributed technology created the need for more skilled workers in temporary roles, and temporary work for the highly skilled was considered a means an end — usually as a path to attain a traditional, full-time role or a means to enhance one’s resume via new experiences. There are still those who take up a temp job as a way to come on board as an employee.

Today, workers have a number of engagement options available to them. According to SIA research, 44 million people took on gig work in 2015. The gig has become more of a lifestyle choice for the worker rather than an employer choice of an engagement model. With low unemployment and an aging population, tapping into the nontraditional worker populations and learning to manage the work and fractional gig workers will be paramount.

Yesterday’s decision trees that give you limited options to source talent are no longer beneficial to your program. And creating a matrix that drives the engagement model may be counter-productive to getting work completed. This is why many of the newer online staffing platforms are seeing such growth — because they are enabling the project manager to distribute the work where it makes the most sense to get it completed, regardless of the way the worker is paid. So, CW programs can use these engagement options to get talent on board. However, what managers have to pay attention to is the complex business model that will result requiring a new set of governance principles to manage in a cost-effective manner.

Whether you are building your own talent pools through training, direct sourcing through your career website, or sourcing with partners like independent contractors, online staffing platforms, outsourcing firms, you need to build the management and governance strategy to minimize risk and maintain an efficient process to acquire talent.

Come to our event Collaboration in the Gig Economy in two weeks to learn more about optimizing the supply chain, network with peers in the industry and find new ways of sourcing talent.