Contract workers tend to be experienced, highly educated and ambitious
- A new LinkedIn study, in collaboration with the Adecco Group, found that the flexible workforce is skilled, highly educated and ambitious. The results from "Flexible Working: A Career and Lifestyle Pathway" show that 91% of contractors are in their mid-to-late careers and tend to move into seniority positions a year earlier than their employee counterparts. LinkedIn’s data report and Adecco's Global Satisfaction Survey analyzed more than 4 million LinkedIn members in 38 countries who self-identify as contract workers.
- Study results found that 73% of contractors have advanced degrees and qualifications, compared to 45% of LinkedIn members who don't identify as contract workers. Just over half of contract workers take flexible assignments to satisfy a career need or ambition. Millennials are more likely to see contract work as a means of landing a permanent position, compared with older workers, who wanted flexibility.
- LinkedIn recommends that employers hire contractors when they have staffing gaps to fill; find out what professionals want when recruiting them; and build a network of independent workers to draw from when an unexpected need arises.
A study by MBO Partners predicts that independent contractors, or gig workers, will make up 60% of the workforce by 2027. Contractor statistics vary by study, but all predictions point to a massive growth in this population of workers and that it will likely take over the workforce in less than a decade.
LinkedIn findings suggest that independent workers with more education and experience are further ahead in their careers than non-independent workers. Older workers are reportedly driving the gig economy, which might explain why contract workers with years of experience seem to have an edge career-wise over permanent employees. Flexibility is a huge boon for independent work; employers can adopt more flexible work strategies for their permanent employees, as well, if retention is a concern.
HR leaders can use the LinkedIn study results for strategies on understanding and hiring professional independent workers. But there's another, more complicated side to the gig economy that requires as much attention. Many independent workers earn relatively low wages, hold down jobs with high safety risks and risk unemployment for months between jobs. Lawmakers and even some employers are beginning to reconsider the benefits offered to gig workers, including retirement accounts and educational opportunities.
Depending on their hiring needs, employers will need to consider the gig economy's "big picture" impact on the labor market and any compliance issues they could face.