Many business owners may think that contractors and freelancers have little or no impact on their organization. Their workforce may predominantly or solely consist of full- and part-time employees right now. But workforce trends suggest that it’s no longer a question of if a business will use contractors or freelance talent, but when.
Industries that may come to mind when thinking of the contractor workforce could include construction, retail, and agriculture – those that are traditionally based on manpower to support projects or seasonal demand. But contractors are expanding their reach into professional roles like technology, accounting, healthcare, and research, and are taking on duties that were once reserved for full- or part-time employees.
Paychex identified that during the millennium, the freelance economy boomed — between 2000 and 2014, freelance jobs listed on resumes increased over 500 percent. A recent NPR/Marist poll also found that one in five jobs in the U.S. is held by a worker under contract, and projected that this group could make up half of the American workforce in the next decade.
Contract workers and benefits
The NPR/Marist poll also found that 51 percent of contract workers do not receive benefits offered to many full-time employees such as a retirement plan, paid time off, or health insurance. However, this may not be deterring contractors and freelance workers. For a business owner, a contract workforce can offer a viable means of controlling costs while addressing staffing requirements on a project-by-project basis.
Reaching niche markets
The labor market has become increasingly competitive, and has led more contract and freelance workers to differentiate themselves by becoming proficient in highly specific niche markets. Technology advancements are driving a great deal of this change. As advancements become more broadly adopted within an industry, they will require industry specialization to apply them effectively. You may experience this firsthand as you work to keep pace with increasingly sophisticated technologies in your business, regardless of your industry.
Using contractors strategically
As this trend continues to reshape the business landscape, it is important for you to define the way these types of workers could engage and integrate into your company culture. Whether you intend to use a contract worker for a month or several months, you need to establish how they will contribute to the organization, and outline clear expectations.
The contractor workforce is changing the business landscape. Organizations that currently don’t use this group of workers may begin doing so as the labor market becomes increasingly competitive and industry demands increase. Preparing your business for effective contract workforce management and engagement means you can take advantage of this trend for the long term.