Uber is only a few years old, yet consumers across the world have adopted the service to the point they would be lost without it. While multiple factors were certainly at play, this revolution in transportation came about swiftly and strongly due to a large talent pool of at-will drivers thriving in a new gig economy. Simply put, the Uber model changed the game. A similar transformation is happening right now in tech, and it’s distinctly shaping the future of IT employment and hiring.
Today’s hiring managers and business leaders are having an increasingly difficult time using traditional methods to find tech talent due to a profound shift in the labor market. Many of us know how Uber works: drivers decide where they want to work and for how long, effectively dictating their own schedules and how much income they’ll ultimately receive. A similar phenomenon is already underway in the tech sector.
By 2020, 40% of Americans will be working outside of traditional permanent full-time roles. In IT, talented professionals are gravitating toward becoming consultants and contractors with multiple revenue streams and working non-traditional hours. Like Uber drivers, tech pros are logging into online systems and choosing which jobs and projects they want to work on for limited time spans. Due to this, surveys show that blended workforces made up of a greater number of contractors are on the rise.
Why Is It Happening?
The tech sector is in a state of extremely high demand but drastically low supply, which means candidates can bend the market to their will. While technological developments like high internet speeds, the prevalence of smart phones, and video interviewing advancements have made a gig economy like this possible, it’s the talent driving change.
Many IT pros are finding a great number of benefits to contracting in the gig economy. They have the power of choice and variety, deciding which types of projects they want to work on. There’s greater flexibility, as talent can simply decide not to take a job for a few weeks or a month if they wish to go on vacation, work on a hobby, or spend time with their family. Also, working as a consultant can be more lucrative than ever, with a 64% increase in independent workers earning over $100,000 per year since 2011. Finally, by 2025, it’s estimated that Millennials will make up 75% of America’s workforce. As this group continues to thrive on technology and seeks greater work/life balance, the new gig economy will grow quickly.
Is This Good for Business?
Every change to how business gets done will have supporters and detractors, but organizations that adapt and increase their usage of contingent labor will see many benefits. As agile project management becomes more prevalent, companies are focusing on shorter, more specialized tasks. Hiring a contractor who is highly skilled in a certain area can help obtain the best expertise for only the time it’s needed.
Consider a Data Architect that can break down accumulated data silos, a Cybersecurity Analyst ready to safeguard a new network, or a Mobile App Developer set to create a new company app. A business that hires one of these as a contractor can get what they need completed and then be free of having a high salary permanently on their payroll after they no longer require that expertise. A new Uber-style employment model in IT easily allows for such a high level of agility. This is precisely why 100% of U.S. employment growth in the last ten years has come from alternative or contingent labor.
How Should Hiring Managers Address This?
Organizations that truly want to capture the best tech talent will look toward accepting the new gig economy as soon as possible, understanding that it’s quickly becoming the best avenue for finding great candidates. To do so, begin considering which roles will lend themselves to contract work. As employees retire or leave, instead of following the status quo and looking for a permanent replacement, contemplate if a contingent labor option may work better. Additionally, determine if some positions can be made remote. This can save on expenses, be advertised as a perk, and result in greater efficiency since remote workers are often more productive than traditional workers.
While the gig economy can provide skilled IT pros quickly, it is still drastically important to find the right talent by maintaining integrity in screening and recruiting processes. Too often, when timelines shorten, quality will dwindle. A hiring manager new to contingent labor may feel temporary talent doesn’t need as much vetting since they will only be around a few months. Unfortunately, that mentality has led to the downfall of many.
The Future of IT Employment
Labor market shifts don’t happen overnight, but adaptation also takes time. As the gig economy morphs into an Uber-style model, those companies that begin to strategize with contract labor in mind are the ones that can grow with the times and continue to find hiring success. As more IT pros choose to become consultants, the difficulty of locating full-time, permanent employees will only increase. It is no longer a question of if or even when a business should adapt to the gig economy but a question of if a business wishes to be successful or not. The answer to that is always yes.