Corporate Execs Starting the Freelance Management Conversation
This article originally appeared in Forbes on May 4th, 2015.
Say you’re a fly on the wall at a meeting between C-suite executives at a top global corporation. The CFO might be grumbling about rising labor costs: “We need to transition to a flexible workforce in order to capitalize on optimal labor models.” The CHRO is feeling the pressure of today’s escalating talent wars: “We need new ways to access top talent in order to stay competitive.”
These days, it’s not uncommon to hear these kinds of conversations between top execs. Issues related to the booming freelance economy — which totals $300 billion worldwide according to a recent Accenture report — are some of the hottest topics being discussed in conference rooms around the country.
Progressive corporate executives are always looking for ways to disrupt the status quo and drive new forms of innovation. Today, that energy is being channeled into a lively discussion about how the thriving freelance economy will allow them to re-engineer their workforce and better prepare for the future of work.
The World of Work: Changing Before the CEO’s Eyes
When today’s execs started out in the workforce, the world of work was vastly different: employees typically worked a full-time, 9-5 schedule, with little variation or flexibility. 1099 contract workers were few and far-between, except at small businesses. Employees traditionally spent their entire careers with one company, with job-hopping the exception rather than the rule.
Over the past decade or two, however, the labor universe has transformed. Current estimates put the number of independent workers at approximately 53 million, or about 33% of the domestic workforce — a number that is expected to balloon to 50% within the next three years.
A new generation of workers, accustomed to 24-7 access to smartphones and other digital technologies, are pursuing more flexible career paths. More businesses are looking to take advantage of a flexible workforce to fill critical skill gaps, become more agile and optimize their labor models.
Modern Technology For a Modern Workforce
The benefits of a freelance workforce are well-documented, but figuring out how to efficiently scale and manage that source of talent is another challenge altogether. The COO is interested in how new freelance management technologies will impact their existing infrastructure and align with current business processes. The chief counsel is surely discussing the importance of remaining compliant with federal labor laws, while the CEO is more concerned about determining where non-employees can add the most value within particular business functions.
These execs have already begun evaluating a number of different technology platforms designed to address the nuances and complexities of non-traditional work. The early winner? Freelance Management Systems (FMS), which allow enterprises to consolidate every aspect of their freelance workforce — onboarding, management, accounting, reporting — into a single dashboard. FMS software also provides today’s data-hungry execs with a powerful analytics engine they can use to better track, manage and understand their freelance costs.
More importantly, these execs are starting to see a host of Fortune 100 titans reap the rewards of being early FMS adopters. The conversations around the future of talent management are bound to continue as the freelance segment continues to grow at a blistering pace. The labor market is undergoing a seismic transformation and today’s execs know they need a better way to manage and optimize their non-employee labor.
Soon, you may start hearing some new conversations coming from behind closed conference room doors: “FMS software has radically simplified how we approach freelance management; this is one of the smartest technology investments we’ve made.”