More than 40 percent of American workers will likely be independent contractors by the year 2020, according to Intuit and Emergent Research. Welcome to the gig economy. But well over half of Americans say they still prefer traditional employment. And that creates a conundrum.
It appears that workers would prefer a little of both. They like the independence of freelancing. But they also like some of the benefits and security that come from a traditional job. Here's what's happening with the growing gig economy and how to snag some of those talented freelancers for your own company.
RELATED: How is the Gig Economy Faring?
Who Says Workers Prefer Freelancing?
Entrepreneurship isn't a new idea. That pioneering spirit was just tamed by the industrial revolution, a wider availability of jobs and many other factors. The desire to work for oneself is still just as strong, according to the 2015 study by Intuit and Emergent Research.
Among other findings, the research showed that on-demand labor providers expect growth to the tune of about 18 percent within five years. Where 36 percent of workers were in the contingent workforce in 2015, 43 percent are expected to be there by 2020. The fact that the average unemployment duration has grown to well over a year plays an important role.
Many People Still Crave Security
One of the greatest challenges in the life of a freelancer is the unpredictable nature of work and income. Sometimes there's a feast and other times there's a famine. Many people who embrace the gig economy enjoy the freedom. But CBS recently interviewed Beyond Career Network senior VP, Joe Weinlick, and he said the majority of workers still want security.
Sixty-eight percent still want a regular job, said Weinlick. The reasoning, he explained, boils down to uncertainty and a lack of guaranteed income plus benefits. But it's unwise to separate the freelancer population from that of the traditionalist. The growing trends show that change in the way that people view employment, and what they want out of it, is happening. And employers need to be ready.
Blend the freedom of a freelancer with the benefits of a 9-5 and you've got an enticing offer.
Turn the New Wave in Your Direction
Once the freelancer mindset begins to blend more with the traditionalist, employers and on-demand companies might be in for a surprise. According to a new Beyond study, a whopping 79 percent of freelancers believe that they should be entitled to benefits as long as certain conditions are met. But nearly half expect employee status regardless of any conditions. That shows a strong desire for security.
Ironically, traditional employers might be uniquely positioned to win some of the best talent away from on-demand companies. Workers want flexibility plus security. Employers offer security, and can reshape the employment landscape into a more flexible one. Working remotely or offering flexible hours, says Weinlick, is a major selling point for attracting the freelancer at heart. The way he'd approach it, he explained, is simple: offer benefits. He went on to say, "I'd promote the ability for people to share some of the benefits of working in the gig economy, except with pay."
The gig economy is apparently one of those buzzwords that's really happening. Displaced workers had to support themselves somehow through an economy that had more bad news than good. But now that the job market is getting better, workers have a choice. You can help them choose your company. Expand your talent pool by embracing a flexible workplace. It benefits them and makes your company stronger.