January 8, 2020

Talent on-demand: How to leverage the alternative workforce for success in the future of work

The alternative workforce is here to stay. Our 2019-2020 Pulse of Talent Report reveals their desires and motivations, and how companies can engage and leverage this untapped talent pool in the new decade of work. Here, HCM Evangelist Ted Malley shares key findings from our latest research.

As we enter a new decade of work, the time is now for employers to prioritize investing in their workplace experiences for future success. This means maximizing business value by putting a critical focus on future-focused technology and people strategies, and importantly, rethinking the nature of the employer-employee relationship and worker arrangements.

Our 2019-2020 Pulse of Talent Report explores just this – the fluidity of today’s workforce and untapped opportunities to leverage alternative workers. It’s fitting that I write this from California – ever the trendsetter in employment law movements – to share our research findings, which explore how companies can better engage and enable the alternative workforce to thrive in the future of work.

Why the focus on the alternative workforce? These workers – freelancers, contractors, gig workers, contingent workers, side hustlers, consultants, to name just some of the terms used to describe these workers – is an untapped resource for companies looking to scale up and down at a lower cost, bring products to market faster, and focus on their core business. The fact is, the alternative workforce is now mainstream, and it’s time for employers to strategically leverage the full spectrum of talent available.

Companies have traditionally treated their relationships with these workers as more transactional and less strategic. However, to unlock the full potential of these workers, employers need to see them as more than a short-term stop-gap. Particularly in a time when companies experiencing critical skills gaps in the fast-paced, hyper-competitive context of business, alternative workers bring both experience and industry-agnostic skills to the table.

In fact, our recent 2020 Future of Work Report found that half of organizations in Canada and the U.S. plan to increase their engagement with the alternative workforce. The new normal, then, is that employers need to be more flexible to accommodate and engage the alternative workforce, and provide all employees with a thoughtful workplace experience.

For the 2019-2020 Pulse of Talent, we asked 1,115 alternative workers in North America about their reasons for choosing this path, their level of engagement, and the reasons behind their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their current work arrangement, as well as where they see themselves in the future. We also asked about key topics making news recently, such as their level of support for unionization, and the effects of alternative work on their mental health.

Here are key findings from the report:

Flexibility and independence are top reasons for joining the alternative workforce

  • Gig workers in both Canada and US are primarily driven to join the alternative workforce for the flexibility that comes with it (49% and 50% CAN/US respectively) and the independence it offers (46% CAN, 40% US)
    • Respondents aged 18-29 are far more likely to join as a way to supplement their income versus their older counterparts (40% in CAN, 30% in US)

Job satisfaction among alternative workers is high, and driven by flexibility

  • Job satisfaction among the alternative workforce in North America is high, with 80% of Canadians, and 79% of Americans saying they are extremely/somewhat satisfied with their job
    • Interesting work and flexible hours/remote work were cited as top drivers for both U.S. and Canadian respondents
  • Meanwhile, not making good pay and lack of good benefits are the main drivers for job dissatisfaction
    • Top three dissatisfaction drivers for US: pay, benefits, uninteresting work
    • Top three dissatisfaction drivers for CAN: pay, benefits, unsecure in job

The majority plan to remain in the alternative workforce for the foreseeable future

  • Despite the challenges and uncertainty of alternative work, more than half of the workers we surveyed plan to continue on this path for the foreseeable future.
    • CAN: 56%
    • US: 57%
  • And the trend toward long-term gig work increases with age: 43% of NA respondents aged 18-29 answered this way, compared with 71% of those aged 50 and above

The alternative workforce isn’t a passing trend – it’s part of a movement toward an entirely different way of organizing work. Check out the full report here to gain important insights on what matters to alternative workers, and how companies can strategically leverage and engage this growing workforce in 2020 and beyond.

Read the full 2019-2020 Pulse of Talent Report.

Ted Malley

Ted is Ceridian's HCM Evangelist. He was previously Chief Revenue Officer and EVP, Chief Customer Officer, responsible for the health and happiness of Ceridian's growing customer base through its XOXO Customer Success Program. 

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