By Catherine Lang-Cline
According to Dustin Haisler, the Chief Innovation Officer of e.Republic, there are currently 53 million people, or 34% of the American workforce, freelancing.
By the year 2020, an estimated 74 million people, 50% of the American workforce, will be freelancing.
What is causing the shift? First reason, the Millennials. While we have all been discussing the working practices and beliefs of the Millennial workforce as they started to enter the market, something happened: they grew to be a larger demographic than the Baby-Boomer generation. What this means is, if you want to be competitive in business, you are going to have to hire a lot of Millennials, and they are wanting to freelance.
The second reason, everyone else wants to freelance as well. In general, everyone is looking for a lot more life balance and finding their purpose. A lot of that purpose lies in the things that they are very good at. So even the seasoned workers are opting out of “business as usual” and looking for something that is giving them more purpose, more freedom to be with family, aging parents, or to just simply do the things that they want to do. Money may not matter for some as they are setting their own schedules and starting their own businesses. They are measuring success not by money, but by time, the time they get to choose what they want to do. And the time they get to work on things that they love to do.
What is great is that it can still result in positive results for your business. Staff having control of their time does not mean that they will work less. Most people work more, but choose when they will work. It can also help your business by eliminating the cost of hiring and firing. You can hire people as needed. You can afford to have people that you normally could not afford work on special projects for you because you are not hiring them and needing to keep them. You can briefly afford to hire the best in the business because they leave when they have completed the job.
As always, understand how this relationship works. Freelancers and contractors are not employees. Be very clear about this to people coming in who want to serve as a freelancer or consultant, as well as the people on your team. Not doing so could lead to tax implications and employment violations. If you have any concerns about how this is handled, you may want to contact your accountant or look into having a staffing company take on freelancers and contractors as temporary employees. That way, the responsibility of taxes, healthcare, etc. would be the responsibility of the staffing company.
Freelancing is becoming more of the norm. In many ways, this can be a real advantage to your company. You can work with people as they are needed rather than worrying about the cost of hiring, firing and overhead. Plus, you can surround yourself with the professionals that are working with a purpose.