The King of Prussia-based career network Beyond recently surveyed more than 5,000 job seekers nationwide about their employment preferences. The survey revealed that despite the growth of the “gig economy,” which has greatly expanded opportunities for freelancers with on-demand companies such as Uber and TaskRabbit, 68 percent of respondents said they would prefer traditional employment. Joe Weinlick, senior vice president at Beyond, gets behind the statistics and discusses what this means for a business’s efforts to recruit and retain talent as the economy heats up.
Much has been made of the rise of the gig economy. Your survey shows that most workers still prefer the benefits that come with regular employment. Do you believe, as the economy strengthens, the number of workers taking advantage of independent contracting opportunities will decrease, or is a strong gig economy the new reality?
It’s definitely a new reality. Change takes time. But, if two-thirds of job seekers are worried about the uncertainty of not having guaranteed income or company paid benefits, one-third are ready for the opportunity. I was recently at a recruiting technology conference, and the topic of recruiting for on-demand companies came up. These types of jobs seem to attract a certain type of person, for instance, someone more willing to take on risk for potential reward.
But, as the number of on-demand jobs becomes more prevalent, they will increasingly be a viable option for more people. Flexibility is one of the top most desired benefits that people of any age group desire. On-demand companies provide that benefit with less risk and more support than many traditional freelance options.
How will this affect the ability of small businesses to recruit talent?
I think it could provide an incredible opportunity for small businesses. Small businesses have the ability to be nimble, for instance, they are best able to offer their workers flexibility, such as working remotely or working different hours. And, most of them pay benefits. If I were a small business, I’d promote the ability for people to share some of the benefits of working in the gig economy, except with pay.
Do you find that businesses in the Philadelphia area are outsourcing more work to independent contractors to fill vacancies? What are the positives and negatives of this?
Companies have remained cautious to hire ever since the Great Recession, which has led to increased outsourcing in Philadelphia and nationwide. The positives for the businesses are that they don’t have to commit to long-term payroll that they are worried they might not be able to support. Instead of choosing not to hire anyone, they can still bring on talent to work on important projects.
For people who prefer to be full time, this is not a good long-term situation, and it also isn’t a long-term solution for companies if they end up needing the talent for longer than a specific project. In those cases, ideally, the independent contractor relationship evolves into full-time employment.
This article was written by Gillian Burdett for Small Business Pulse