- About half of contingent workers said learning new skills is “very important” to their careers, and 90% want to be treated like team members, according to a report from MBO Partners. Millennial independent contractors are more attracted to companies with up-to-date digital tools and are positive about how automation and artificial intelligence are impacting their work and personal lives compared to baby boomers, the report said.
- According to the report, more highly skilled workers are becoming independent contractors, earning on average $78,000 or more annually; the average independent contractor is 48 years old with nine years of experience. Contractors have typically worked across many industries with knowledge-based skills that are difficult to source from traditional talent pools. Among independent contractors earning more than $100,000 a year, 62% said they have lots of choice in selecting their clients, while close to one-third said they had "some choice," the report said.
- Organizations are relying more on contingent workers to remain agile, flexible and efficient in a tight labor market, MBO found. Citing statistics from software supplier SAP Fieldglass and Ardent Partners, a supply management analyst firm, MBO said that 40% of the average employer's workforce is made up of non-employees, compared to 16% 10 years ago. MBO also cited an earlier finding that 7.4 million Americans work full-time on a contingent basis.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report in mid-2018 showing that contingent workers were shrinking in the labor force — much to the surprise of employment experts who predicted independent workers' takeover of the workforce in the near future. However, the MBO report backs employers' plans to continue hiring independent workers to stay flexible and meet market fluctuations.
According to the MBO report, independent workers want to be treated like team members and have positive relationships with supervisors. But employers must exercise caution, or risk violating wage and hour laws distinguishing employees from independent contractors. Some employers have taken a middle-of-road approach, however, opting to offer some benefits to contractors; SurveyMonkey, for example, partnered with a third-party service to do so in 2018.
MBO's report can help employers better understand external talent and what they're looking for in clients. Based on the report, independent workers prefer clients that appreciate the quality of their work (78%), treat them as valuable team members (74%) and connect them with likable supervisors (71%). Extending a culture of recognition to contractors can show these workers they are valued, and including them in vital communications may help employers retain these "shadow workforces" and shield them from worker backlash.