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, and is sponsored by Beeline and Puridiom.

2015 was quite the exciting year for the non-employee workforce arena. The business world experienced:

  • A new influx of talent that contributed to a sharp increase in utilization of independent talent over 2014.
  • A larger acceptance within the enterprise community that external workers held critical, top-tier skillsets that were/are necessary for crucial business projects and endeavors.
  • An evolutionary spark in the way technology can support the ultimate engagement, sourcing, and management of non-employee labor, and;
  • A higher concentration of true, high-quality independent skillsets interspersed with more traditional labor.

Ardent’s 2015-2016 State of Contingent Workforce Management research report (if you haven’t already, click here to download a copy) found that 35% of today’s total workforce is considered non-employee: freelance, independent, external, extended, contingent, etc. And, with 95% of organizations today perceiving their contingent workforce as important and vital not only to day-to-day operations, but also to ultimate enterprise success and growth, this arena should be of the utmost importance to every executive today.

With all of the exhilarating developments in this industry over the past year, what will 2016 hold? How will contingent workforce management (CWM) programs continue to evolve in the year ahead? What role with technology play in the “future of work?” Here are some ideas:

  • Another year, another round of questions about the true reality of total workforce management. Within the next few years, nearly 50% of the world’s total workforce will be considered non-employee; and, with that true “balance” within the average business, “total workforce management” programs, which entail centralized management (integration of CWM and HR solutions, cross-functional awareness between procurement and HR, visibility into total talent, etc.) will not be a luxury, but instead a necessity. Another year goes by, and more questions will arise as to the true reality of this ideal, and how to develop programs that address all enterprise talent under a single structure.
  • “On-demand” becomes a global standard for talent engagement. Right now, any executive can find and engage the right talent for a critical enterprise project within minutes. The “on-demand workforce” is here, and it is actively shaping how businesses can find the skillsets they require in real-time. And, throughout 2016, this will be the global standard for all talent engagement and acquisition.
  • External workers and independent talent are more highly concentrated into the average business workforce. It is not just a matter of a company leveraging independent talent on a day-to-day basis, it is the true “concentration” of that talent integrated into critical projects and key operational endeavors that signals the real evolution and growth within this industry. The utilization rate will grow in the year ahead, but so will the impact of that non-employee talent within the actual business workforce.
  • The “ecosystem” approach revolutionizes the management of the non-employee workforce. As discussed late last year, the contingent workforce industry now necessitates an “ecosystem” approach for the core and peripheral solutions that supply talent, automate operational processes, drive visibility, and support overall talent-based needs and requirements (in, of course, an on-demand manner). This ecosystem will greatly benefit enterprises by better integrating all talent types under a single program while also engaging new, global talent and maintaining proper visibility and control over the long haul.

One thing is for certain: the realm of non-employee talent has forever altered the business world and paved the “future of work” for years to come. Those organizations that understand the impact and value of this talent will be the ones that drive successful projects and achieved their ultimate goals in 2016. Stay tuned for a “contingent workforce management program primer” in the weeks ahead, and be sure to register for next week’s big webinar to hear more exciting predictions regarding the procurement and contingent workforce industries.


Twelve Things We Learned About the Non-Employee Workforce in 2015, Part I

Why the Contingent Workforce Space Can Benefit from an “Ecosystem” Approach

Five Things Every Company Should Know About Total Workforce Management

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