The Gig Economy is generally defined as a trend in short term employment enabled by online platforms connecting workers with people hiring. Sometimes this can be a job performed completed remotely. For example Freelancer.com and Upwork specialize in web design, graphic design as well as accounting and writing tasks.
These online platforms are evolving and now, in some cases, partnering with traditional staffing firms. The combination has the potential to change not only how we hire, but how we look at strategies for growing businesses.
What’s Old Is New
Short term and temporary or contract employment is nothing new. Nesco Resource, for example, has been in business for over 50 years and the staffing industry has roots dating back more than a century. However, Gig Economy players and traditional staffing services share many synergies that can help bring together the best of both worlds. For example, Nesco Resource and Field Nation announced a partnership in 2013, one of the first between a traditional staffing firm and a Gig Economy player. This specific partnership offers clients a wide range of available and skilled IT workers across many geographies, with instant recruitment and management capabilities online. The geographic reach and online technology of Field Nation combined with the back office support experience, recruitment expertise, and national brick-and-mortar network of Nesco Resource creates a highly robust tool for companies to use to find the right talent, right when it’s needed.
With this new paradigm, the next evolution of the Gig Economy is not only disrupting hiring practices, but also the relationship that companies have with service providers. Looking ahead, companies have the opportunity replace 3rd-party service providers with short term contractors at a much lower cost. At the same time, they can rethink permanent labor–using more sophisticated tools to better analyze and supplement their direct workforce with highly skilled, trained, vetted contingent labor.
Finding the Best
There was a time when finding the best people for the job meant looking in the permanently employed base for a candidate and then hiring them as a full time employee. Those days are quickly changing. There are 53 million people in the U.S. who are freelancers or contractors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited 31% of the workforce was contingent in 2006. By 2014 the number grew to 34% and is projected to grow to 40% by the end of the decade. Additionally most freelancers or contingent workers want to be doing this kind of work. A Field Nation study revealed that 88% of freelancers and independent contractors surveyed chose this line of work as opposed to only 8% felt that they were forced into this market because they had no other options. 94% of respondents said that they chose the contract lifestyle to better utilize their talents. Imagine a company that could boast those same figures? Wouldn’t you want to tap into that workforce?
The movement in the Gig economy means that more and more jobs and projects can be handled with a contingent workforce – and that workforce may very well hold the most talented, dedicated people happy to work on a project basis.
Proven Locally and Nationally
Contingent labor can be an effective solution on any scale. In the world of IT, for example, there are often large scale projects that require large teams deployed across many locations within a tight timeframe. For example, using a national recruiting center and a network of branch offices, Nesco Resource is able to pinpoint the talent not just for individual jobs, but for entire teams on projects sometimes across hundreds of worksites. That requires both national reach and local knowledge.
We’re now able to bring that efficiency and reach to a wide range of other industries. This level of speed, and pinpointing of skills is helping to drive the Gig economy beyond tech jobs. Companies in manufacturing, engineering, accounting & finance, and a wide range or other markets are finding that contingent labor is not a desperate stop-gap; it is, in fact, a pathway to growth. This strategy allows for a highly skilled on a project that can help meet a surge in demand or take advantage of seasonal trends. On the other hand, companies can save time and money by shifting away from service providers toward an online platform like the Field Nation / Nesco Resource partnership mentioned above.
The Gig Economy is really a combination of trends converging. An increasing number of people are finding that working on a contingent basis is rewarding both financially and personally. For many companies, the gig economy is offering greater flexibility to grow into new markets, take on new clients without fear of overextending current staff or payroll. This crossroads of trends could mean untold opportunities for companies and a new role for HR professionals – as the new drivers of sales growth and increased profitability.