Haven’t Bought into the Gig Economy? Survey Data Shows Comfort with Contractors among Employees

June 2016

Survey reveals nearly all hiring managers more comfortable hiring contractors than five years ago

CHICAGO, June 15, 2016 – Addison Group (“Addison”), a leading provider of professional staffing services, today released the results of its survey that examines the current employment landscape, honing in on the state of the gig economy and the notion that temporary positions are more common and accepted than ever. The survey explores how the gig economy is viewed among hiring managers as well as the three generations that make up today’s workforce – Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.

“The growth of contract workers has been substantial over the past several years, not only for those working in the sharing economy, but also for highly-skilled contractors across industries,” said Thomas Moran, CEO, Addison Group. “Given the changing workplace, jobseekers should know they have options especially as hiring managers become increasingly comfortable with ‘gigging’ employees. This has only become truer as Millennials, who have worked alongside contractors for much of their career, increasingly make up the majority of the workforce. It’s one of many reasons the gig economy is here to stay.”

Hiring contract workers isn’t a new strategy employed by businesses, but since the end of the 2009 recession, the number of temporary employees in the workforce has increased by more than 65 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Contractors are an attractive option for companies looking to reduce costs surrounding hiring, and with changes in healthcare, contractors are more secure in their independence, not to mention the growing number of opportunities available to those interested in the sharing economy. Hiring on a contract basis even helps in deciding whether to bring on an employee full-time, with over a third of hiring managers admitting the ability to test the waters with a candidate is beneficial to them, driving their decision to hire an employee on a contract basis before bringing them on fulltime.

Comfort with Temporary Workers Increasing Among All Generations
What was initially a benefit to the gig economy born from the recession, the survey indicated that an overwhelming majority of U.S. employees with hiring responsibility (94%) are more willing to hire a temporary contractor than they were just five years ago, transforming the gig economy from a growing trend to a fixture in the job market.

“Millennials and Gen Xers, many of whom now hold management roles, have already had a lot of exposure to working with contract employees, and as a result are increasingly seeing the value in hiring a ‘temporary workforce’,” said Moran. “These individuals ‘grew up’ in the gig economy, so for them, contract hiring is seen as commonplace and a good solution to many hiring needs like quickly staffing for high-priority projects.”

This trend is demonstrated by nearly half of hiring managers (46%) who have hired a contractor in the past 12 months alone. Yet some hiring managers remain hesitant, with one in four never having hired a temporary worker. That number increases to one in three when looking at Baby Boomers.

Senior-level contract workers have also benefitted from the rise of the gig economy, with 88 percent of hiring managers noting their increased willingness to hire senior contract candidates compared to five years ago. This is in part due to the fact that employees are more comfortable working under a temporary contractor, especially young Millennials, with 65 percent weighing in positively. Additionally, just more than half of the other generations, including older Millennials (55%), Gen X (58%) and Baby Boomers (56%) also are open to working under a contract employee.

Companies should take note, that while this leaves a portion of the workforce reluctant to report to a contractor, the majority are comfortable with it. Ultimately, building a flexible workplace culture will behoove companies as the segment of temporary employees, especially those in senior-level positions, continues to increase.

That said, the starkest discrepancy between generations was revealed when respondents were asked if they would be willing to work for on-demand employment opportunities. While 62 percent of Millennials and 59 percent of Gen X are open to working as a contractor, less than half (44%) of Boomers agree. Given that Boomers grew up in a work environment where employees rarely, if ever, changed jobs throughout their career, temporary employment is a foreign concept for many in this generation.

The normalization of the gig economy marks a significant moment in workforce history. As the youngest generation is the most willing to work on a contract basis, there are serious implications for today’s workplaces. Addison Group anticipates on-demand opportunities will continue to increase over the next five to 10 years as younger generations’ desire for exposure to experience across industries and jobs grows. For hiring managers, the future war for talent on both a full-time and contract basis will be equally as fierce. Companies must evolve to attract and accommodate the needs of employees. Additionally, finding a balance between contingent and full-time workers will be more critical than ever.

Thriving in the Gig Economy
The drivers behind hiring temporary employees are clear. Hiring managers feel the tightest staffing squeeze when they need to fill a single vacant position quickly, or during periods of rapid growth, and this is especially true in the IT industry. Those professionals looking to break into the gig economy will be most successful in IT roles, with 36 percent of hiring managers noting that ‘doing highly specialized IT work’ is an easy way into the gig economy.

The survey also unveiled the three main reasons managers hire contractors: reducing the overhead associated with a full-time hire, a quick solution to under-staffing issues, and finding someone who can have a dedicated focus to pressing short-term projects. Knowing this, it’s important hiring managers identify contract workers who are comfortable jumping in immediately to make an impact. Oftentimes, that’s the biggest value add they can provide.

While a contract worker’s specialized skillset is critical to their hiring, surprisingly, those with strong project management skills need not apply, with just one in five hiring managers viewing this as one of the biggest value adds to a team. Another 20 percent don’t view hiring a contract employee with a different point of view to help shake up a team as a major value add.

The study, commissioned by Addison Group and executed by Edelman Intelligence, surveyed 1,407 working Americans. For more information, visit addisongroup.com.

About Addison Group
Addison Group is a leading provider of professional staffing and search services. Bringing the best to the best, Addison combines a national network and localized service for broad reach with a personal touch. Specialized practices deliver the right candidate at the right time in Information Technology, Finance & Accounting, Healthcare, HR & Administrative, and Engineering. Addison has received Inavero’s Best of Staffing award for the past six years. Learn more at www.addisongroup.com.

Media Contact:
Martha Kelley Sams
Addison Group