- Most HR professionals (60%) in a new global Korn Ferry survey said they're hiring more contingent workers than they did three years ago and 42% said they'll continue to hire more in the future. According to nearly 500 HR leaders polled, gig workers — a category that includes contract workers, freelancers, temporary workers and consultants — save organizations money and are easier to manage than permanent staff.
- Survey respondents cite their top two reasons for hiring gig workers as the ability to bring them in for short-term projects and the high-quality, specialized expertise they provide that's not always found in-house. In other survey results, 67% of HR professionals said they they're confident about knowing what gig workers do daily, despite the fact that many of these workers do their jobs remotely. Two-thirds of respondents said they try to integrate contingent workers into the workplace culture. And almost 60% think gig workers positively impact the workplace culture.
- Employers should be cautious when hiring gig workers, however, said Jeanne MacDonald, president of Global Talent Solutions for Korn Ferry's RPO and Professional Search Business: "As freelancers, consultants and contractors become more prevalent, it's important to keep in mind that the gig economy will not replace traditional models of work. The key is to adopt a blended approach to talent acquisition and talent management, one that incorporates campus, contingent workers and full-time employees, and one that, in essence, makes the most business sense."
Although a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report in June indicated that growth in the gig economy was down, employers in other studies said they plan to hire more contingent workers. In fact, employers surveyed by Randstad Sourceright said they plan to convert up to one-third of their permanent, full-time positions into contingent jobs. Similarly, a July report from MBO Partners showed that the contingent workforce would continue to grow, generating $1.3 trillion in revenue.
Before forging ahead and hiring more contingent workers, employers may want to consider the legal and economic ramifications involved. For one, the Fair Labor Standards Act leaves little room for employers to decide whether workers are employees or independent contractors. There's also no guarantee that an employer can avoid or mitigate the effects of workplace unionization by relying heavily on contractors.
But even for employers that prefer employees to contractors, the gig economy offers some important lessons. In a recent Gallup survey, the group said that contractors often enjoy flexibility, autonomy and regular feedback — and that there's no reason employers can't provide the same to employees.