The Case for a Freelance Workforce in 7 Stats

4 min read
WorkMarket Editorial Team
WorkMarket Editorial Team
The Case for a Freelance Workforce in 7 Stats

(Editor's note: This was originally published by Spend Matters.)

The world of work is evolving right before our eyes.

Some of today’s biggest brands have started incorporating freelancers and contractors into their growth strategies in an effort to build a more nimble, competitive and specialized workforce. Workforce transformation initiatives have become key topics of discussion in enterprise boardrooms around the country.

Some businesses aren’t buying the hype — while others have begun investing in new tools and technologies that are empowering them to work better, faster and smarter than ever before.

Here are seven stats that illuminate the benefits of a flexible workforce.

In a decade, Fortune 2000 companies will have no employees outside the C-suite.

That’s a prediction from consulting giant Accenture, which produces an annual Technology Vision Report each year exploring the biggest technology trends impacting today’s businesses. The stat is also cited by the WSJ in “The End of Employees,” which further examines the move by some of today’s biggest companies toward a more flexible and virtualized workforce. As companies look to embrace a variable workforce model (some people call it workforce-as-a-service) and reduce their fixed labor costs, this approach seems ripe to become the standard in the years to come.

83% of business leaders believe contractors are more productive than employees.

That’s according to the 2017 Workforce Productivity Report. Our study set out to explore how the C-suite and line of business (LOB) managers are thinking about one of the most important measures of workforce effectiveness: productivity. While an overwhelming majority (82%) we surveyed agree that productivity is one of the top indicators of financial success or failure, only 31% gave themselves an “A.” What grade would your company get?

45% of businesses are finding a growing need for on-demand and real-time talent.

That’s according to a report from Ardent Partners. From direct-to-talent sourcing to refocusing on the talent experience, firms are embracing a number of strategies to adapt to the new world of work. The heightened speed of business, along with tightening margins and shifting customer demands have increasingly made talent a key differentiator — which means real-time, direct sourcing of top talent (including freelancers and independent contractors), and the technology that enables it, is now a pressing imperative for firms.

80% of HR pros have a hard time attracting top talent.

That’s research coming from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Talent shortages and skills gaps have been an ongoing pain point in HR circles. Differentiated skill sets, across IT and engineering as well as creatives and strategists, are hot commodities in the world of work — businesses need to understand how to tap and engage talent beyond their four walls. The growth of the freelance economy over the last few years now gives companies an opportunity to directly engage and collaborate with elite independent professionals.

Large firms estimate 30% of their procurement spend goes toward contingent workers.

That’s an estimate from Deloitte. Contingent workers (i.e. non-employees) are increasingly being used to help companies fill skills gaps, increase operational flexibility and strategically extend capabilities. In some cases, contingent workers represent a larger share of the workforce than traditional, full-time employees. The spend allocated to contingent workers has climbed precipitously over the past few years, remaining a priority for procurement teams that need to find, engage and retain top talent beyond traditional full-time employees.

Millennials (73 million) are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers (72 million) in 2019.

That’s based on recent population estimates compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials are on the cusp of becoming the country’s largest living generation. As Boomers retire by the droves, Millennials are beginning to call the shots on how businesses sell them products and how firms engage with them in the world of work. That means that tech-savvy, flexible and independent workers are altering the way we all transact business. Millennials are the first generation of freelance natives and in the coming years will fundamentally change how work gets done.

Nearly half of today’s Fortune 500 companies won’t last through the next decade.

That’s coming from Deloitte. Moreover, 52% of Fortune 500 companies from 2000 are no longer with us. Scroll through the archives and it’s clear which (former) industry leaders have failed to keep up with the times. This is corporate Darwinism at its finest — adapt or die. Companies unwilling to experiment with new technologies and unconventional business models simply won't be able to compete in this new world of work.

Where will your company be in 10 years?