2017: The Year The Gig Economy Took Center Stage

December 28, 2017 Leah Hoffmann

gig economy numbers: person holding a pencil and analyzing spreadsheets and charts

At Business Talent Group, we’ve long been bullish about the high-end gig economy. In particular, we’re excited by its massive potential for keeping companies more nimble and competitive—and for giving knowledge workers more control over when and how they exercise their talents.

In 2017, it became clear we weren’t the only ones.

In fact, according to Randstadt Sourceright’s Q4 2017 Talent Trends report, 61% of employers plan to replace up to 30% of their permanent positions with freelancers, gig workers, and independent consultants to become more agile and flexible in the changing economy. The biggest driver behind the shift? The difficulty of finding the top talent that can help them stay competitive. In fact, 75% of respondents indicated that scarcity and competition for talent are impacting their business most this year.

“But with greater workforce flexibility and access to an expanded candidate pool that includes contingent talent, organizations can get ahead of scarcity issues,” the Randstadt report concludes.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

What’s more, according to Randstadt, an integrated talent model that includes both permanent and contingent talent can reduce overall recruitment costs by 10-12%.

2017’s top gig economy numbers

As we embark on a new year, here are some of the most interesting and revealing numbers about the gig economy.

ManpowerGroup’s #GigResponsibly: The Rise of NextGen Work reports that:

  • 94% of workers are open to non-traditional work arrangements
  • For 81% of respondents, non-traditional work arrangements are a choice, rather than a necessity
  • 87% of workers would consider NextGen Work
  • Countries with a higher proportion of younger workers are more inclined to do NextGen Work, in particular younger Millennials (ages 18–24)
  • 95% of younger Millennials are open to working this way
  • Boomers are bucking the trend too: 80% of over-50s say they are open to NextGen Work

Ardent Partners’ State of Contingent Workforce Management 2018 reports that:

  • 40% of today’s total global workforce is comprised of non-employee talent, including independent contractors, freelancers, professional services, and temp workers
  • 73% of companies are using new methods of addressing work, including tapping into a growing “total talent” pool of skills and expertise
  • 63% of contingent workforce managers want to enhance overall talent engagement strategies, and 71% cite agility as their top business challenge

A gig by any other name

In an interview with Deloitte’s CEO Cathy Engelbert and John Hagel, co-chairman for Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman commented: “If you have a challenge that’s posed to you, why in the world would you limit yourself simply to the talent within your own company? Because the odds of it being the best in this world are really pretty low.”

Just be careful what you call it: according to UpWork’s 2017 Freelancing in America report, approximately 5x more of respondents preferred the term “Freelance Economy” to “Gig Economy.”

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About the Author

Leah Hoffmann

Leah Hoffmann is a former journalist who has worked for Forbes.com and The Economist. She is passionate about clear thinking, sharp writing, and strong points of view.

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