Zero One: Here Comes the Gig Economy
Faced with a severe digital technology skills shortage and needing to inject speed and agility into their workforce, companies are turning to contractors. In so doing, they’re fueling the “gig economy,” says Mavenlink, a cloud provider of project management software.
Mavenlink teamed with research firm ResearchNow to survey 300 business executives about their contract workforce, also known as the gig economy. They found not only a thriving and growing gig economy, but also one that’s becoming more important in today’s digital businesses.
Eight out of 10 executives say skilled contractors are a competitive advantage that, primarily, makes their companies more agile. Nearly half of executives want contractors to fill management and senior roles, including inside the c-suite. More than 90 percent of business leaders plan to continue or expand their use of skilled contractors next year.
The new realities of the digital economy and the urgency to get ahead of disruption, of course, are what’s driving the need for speed and agility. Business strategy has outpaced business structure, says Mavenlink. Now companies need to stand up specialized groups quickly for newly green-lit projects – a modus operandi that fits the gig economy.
In terms of hiring speed, more than three out of four respondents in the Mavenlink survey said it’s easier to get approval to hire a contractor than a full-time employee.
Hard-to-find knowledge workers, particularly in tech, are the enablers of this brave new world of digital business. A Capgemini Consulting survey conducted a few years ago found that 77 percent of companies consider missing digital skills as the key hurdle to their digital transformation.
Where to find them? Look to the gig economy. That is, more and more knowledge workers are becoming contractors. They’re eyeing flexible lifestyle benefits and varying job experiences, instead of toiling in a full-time job for years at a single company.
“A decade ago, it was common to work at two to three companies during an entire career,” the Mavenlink study says. “Those graduating college today may work for five within the first decade after graduation.”
Case-in-point: Mavenlink’s study found that 63 percent of participants are willing to leave their current full-time positions for consistent contract work. Along these lines, an Accenture study predicts that 43 percent of the U.S. workforce – 60 million people – will be contingent by 2020.
But Mavenlink’s study suggests companies aren’t really ready to handle so many contractors. Seven out of 10 respondents said they need to make changes to better identify, select and manage contractors, yet many aren’t sure what changes are required. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they don’t have any policies for managing contractors.
“Organizations will need to quickly adopt best practices – processes, frameworks, guidelines, analytics and insights – to help manage this growth before it gets unruly,” the Mavenlink study says.