Today’s modern workforce is like nothing businesses have seen before. With more workers retiring later in life, you have Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and even occasionally those of the Silent Generation all working side-by-side. Ideals have shifted as well. Workers want more flexibility, freedom and opportunity, and are willing to job hop to find exactly what they are looking for. These changes are resulting in a new modern workforce in America.
What does this modern workforce look like? At one point in time, the workforce was mostly comprised of full- and part-time employees, many of whom worked at the same job all their lives. Today you have a much wider variety, creating a more holistic and flexible workforce. A significant disrupter to this former norm has been the rise of the contingent workforce. One of the most well-known groups of contingent workers in the market are temporary workers, and we are long past the days of the 1950’s Kelly Girl. Now you can find temps in almost any field ranging from teaching to high-level research scientists. However, temporary workers are not the only members of the contingent workforce changing the job market.
Contingent workers are estimated to encompass over 40% of the workforce and this continues to grow. One reason for the growth in contingent labor is the increase in self-employed business owners and independent contractors. Employers no longer have to spend the money to hire qualified full-time employees to handle only one or two projects. Workers in many fields can now be hired on a project by project basis. This allows self-employed individuals to create their own career path and lowers employer’s costs. Increasingly, businesses are seeing the value behind this “gig economy,” especially as older, more skilled workers move towards self-employment.
Along with the rise of the contingent workforce, there has been a large shift in ideals of people today. Individuals of all ages want more flexibility and work-life balance in their jobs. Millennials want more freedom to work and play. Gen Xers want more time to spend with family at home. Even Baby Boomers and Silent Generation individuals are looking for more flexibility as they gradually move toward retirement.
As the number of self-employed businesses increase and the demand for more work-life balance grows, we will continue to see the modern workforce shift in the future toward a more holistic approach comprised of many types of workers and employment options. In order for businesses to remain competitive in the work market, they need to be aware of and adapt to these challenges and changes.