Editor’s Note: The evolving non-employee workforce certainly impacts the procurement function, especially as this industry continues to expand and grow. Don’t forget to register for Ardent’s webinar on Thursday, January 28 (2pm ET), which will highlight, among other big trends and predictions for procurement professionals in 2016, the ultimate impact of the contingent workforce in the months ahead. Click here to register for the webcast, which will feature Ardent’s own Andrew Bartolini and Christopher J. Dwyer.

CPO Rising is counting down the top ten things that the industry learned about the non-employee workforce in 2015. From aspects related to functional prowess (think: collaboration) to advancements in technology and the art of talent engagement, 2015 was an exciting year for a growing, evolving workforce that shows no signs of slowing down in 2016.

  1. The growth of the non-employee workforce has not yet reached its static period. In fact, it is still growing at a rapid rate: with a 10% increase over the past 12 months, 35% of the world’s total workforce is comprised of independent, freelance, and contingent talent. And, with continued utilization of non-employee labor into the years ahead, we could experience an age when 50% of the global workforce is considered contingent by 2018 or 2019.
  2. Worldwide inter-connectivity has revolutionized how talent is found, engaged, and ultimately sourced. The world’s business professionals are interconnected in numerous ways, including via mobile applications, business networks, and social media/networks. While this inter-connectivity has certainly transformed how commerce and business is executed, it has also done wonders for how talent is engaged and sourced. The world of “on-demand talent” is now a reality due to new technologies, platforms, and labor networks and marketplaces. Speaking of which…
  3. Online talent platforms are actively providing businesses with the means for expanding talent pools while managing operational processes. The non-employee workforce industry would not be where it is today without the evolution of technology, software, and solutions. Online talent platforms represent a new way of finding/engaging and ultimately managing independent talent, helping to expand global talent pools while limiting risks related to compliance and spend management (as well as helping to better align, via “talent matching,” workers with projects).
  4. More and more organizations understand the impact of SOW and “complex” contingent labor. While only 28% of businesses today have a strategic program in place to manage “complex” contingent labor, which includes SOW, another 32% are either in the implementation period for doing so or plan to within the next 12-to-18 months. SOW represents the “next frontier” for enterprises as they begin to better understand the intricacies of their contingent workforce, especially the components that are linked to critical business projects and initiatives.
  5. The “future of work” has social, economic, political, business, and personal implications. What is the “future of work”? The concept of addressing any business need, no matter the level of required expertise, with external or independent workers. How does this impact the business world? From several perspectives: 1) social networks become veritable recruitment havens, 2) the economic tide is pushed by the surge of independent workers now in the market, 3) new laws and guidelines are actively being developed to regulate the relationships between employers and external workers, 5) businesses are transforming the way work is done knowing that top-tier talent is available in real-time, and, 6) more and more experienced and talent professionals are eschewing traditional employment models for the flexibility of freelancing or being an independent worker.
  6. 95% of organizations today perceive their contingent workforce as important and vital not only to day-to-day operations, but also to ultimate enterprise success and growth. The vast, vast majority of today’s businesses understand the real impact of non-employee workers and the ultimate value they bring to critical projects, tasks, strategies, and initiatives.

Stay tuned for Part II of our “12 things we learned” list, and be sure to download the new State of Contingent Workforce Management research study, which includes deep discussions of the above items. And, also be on the lookout for a special announcement regarding Ardent’s 2016 contingent workforce management research agenda!


Five Things Every Company Should Know About Total Workforce Management

The Disruption of Talent Engagement, Part II: Disruptive Technologies, Next-Gen Solutions

The Disruption of Talent Engagement, Part I: Procurement’s New Role in CWM

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