Early in my career, in the early ’90s, I attended an event during which the host, British Telecom, showed a video of young children playing with their toys. After a couple of minutes, the presenter pointed to the screen and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, our customers.”
The point was that BT was developing products not for today’s buyer, but for the buyers of tomorrow. Looking back, I wonder if BT had even conceived then that those very children would grow up to work in the gig economy, a way of work that is vastly different from what my own father knew. A builder, he had just one job in his lifetime. Many adults today will likely have six or seven jobs before they sail off into the sunset, but many of today’s children will likely have six or seven jobs running concurrently.
The world of work is moving rapidly toward a more flexible workforce and technologies are enabling individuals to perform multiple work assignments simultaneously. This new way of work poses many opportunities as well as risks for employers. Is your program ready?
It is wise to consider and be prepared for what many observers believe, driven primarily by technology, to be an inevitable change in future candidate behavior.
Our most recent buyer surveys predict a huge workforce shift over the next 10 years, with demand for traditional workers projected to fall 24% in the Americas, 39% in Europe, and 37% in the Asia Pacific region. Meanwhile, buyers expect to need more flexible resources, such as statement of work and other temporary staff, with demand projected to grow between 22% and 47% across these same regions.
There are many things driving this, not the least of which is candidates’ behavior in terms of their need for additional working hours and pay whilst remaining in a convenient geographical location and their knowledge and job satisfaction resulting from variety of work.
Technology is the key enabler of this flexible workforce and organizations running significant contingent workforce programs should be thinking about the opportunity and threats that such working practices are already bringing.
Clearly, there are opportunities in terms of getting tasks completed by engaging individuals on the shortest of assignments, reducing costs while at the same time achieving required deliverables. Today’s online staffing platforms already enable the completion of numerous tasks, allowing buying organizations to have their own employees focus on more strategic and value-added activity.
At the same time, there will likely be challenges in hiring full-time employees as people tend to prefer localized gig work and the retention of intellectual property within the building.
Whatever your view on the future of the gig economy and its impact on the changing world of work, it is wise to start considering the tasks within your organization that could be performed by gig workers today and how you will compete to identify, attract, engage and retain these workers in the future to get work done and for your organization’s talent attraction strategy to remain competitive.
Topics like this are being discussed at Staffing Industry Analysts’ Collaboration in the Gig Economy conference, taking place today and tomorrow in Dallas.