own bosses and shop their skills around, content to work short
periods in exchange for an interesting project and a chance to learn.
Having grown up with tech, they’re at home working remotely, too
– something that factors into many “gig” opportunities.
“Millennials’ relationship with technology influences how this
generation wants to work, how they expect to work and how they
engage,” said Nugent. “The gig economy to me is like the canary in
a coalmine for a broader demographic’s expectations and changes.
“Boomers make up a big part of this group, too,” said Nugent.
“They may have been downsized over periods of time and at this
point in their career, don’t want a traditional job, but also don’t
want to stop working.”
A company might be parting with decades of experience when
they lose a Baby Boomer, along with that person’s wisdom and
maturity. If they can hire back that person as a consultant – but
for 12 hours a week rather than full time – that can be a win
If freelancers include just about every generation, they also
represent a wide range of professions. Some, though, are more
common than others.
“We found there are definitely more freelance jobs for cer-tain
career fields,” said Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist
at FlexJobs. At the top of the list: IT-related posts, followed
by posted jobs in the fields of accounting and finance, HR and
recruiting, writing and editing, administrative work, project man-agement
and data entry.
FREELANCERS: MYTH BUSTING
“There is a belief out there that people are freelancers because
they’re not able to find traditional employment, and we’re seeing
that this is not the case at all,” said Reynolds. “Instead, these pro-fessionals
see their skills as an asset that they would like to offer
to different clients and they don’t necessarily want to be beholden
to one employer. I think that speaks to their level of experience
and skill, and the confidence they have that they can be hired in
With future employment often based on the quality of the work
at their last gig, word of (social media) mouth and repeat business,
freelancers are generally highly motivated to meet or exceed their
On a related note, organizations may have concerns that workers
in non-traditional roles won’t be as committed to an organization
as traditional full-time employees.
“In general,” said Nugent, “the loyalty that used to be there
between employees and employers is just not necessarily there
on either side now,” even for traditional workers. “There is loyalty,
though, when each party brings value to the relationship, and that
can absolutely happen with a non-traditional workforce.”
WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?
With just about every organization looking for efficiencies to stay
competitive, contingent workers offer a compelling argument.
The ability to scale a workforce up or down quickly or assemble a
global team of experts at a moment’s notice is appealing, and it all
comes without the typical expenses of traditional workers.
Hiring contingent employees can help reduce risk during times
of uncertainty or cautious expansion, too.
“You’ve heard of the oil patch downturn in Western Canada,
but in the contingent workforce, there’s actually been growth in
this part of the country,” said Nugent. “Contingent workers were
always a large component of the workforce there, but with the eco-nomic
uncertainty it’s become a huge component of the workforce.”
There might be other times when a team would benefit from
a fresh, external perspective, when solving a problem or trying
“One big advantage for organizations is the expertise and spe-cialization
that they can often find with the freelance worker,”
For those who craft and plan the talent mix in an organization,
it can mean something of a paradigm shift.
“Boomers and GenXers often have a very defined world view,
limited by a traditional understanding of what work looks like:
stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo
“ONE BIG ADVANTAGE
IS THE EXPERTISE
THAT THEY CAN
OFTEN FIND WITH THE
– BRIE REYNOLDS
20 ❚ MAY 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL