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In 2016, Accenture predicted that within ten years we would see a new global 2000 company with no full-time employees outside of the C-suite. Imagine that. You’d have a full-time CEO, CFO, CTO and CMO with entire teams of talent rolling through when needed or to complete specific projects. I don’t necessarily believe that we’ll see organisations that are 99 per cent contingent in the medium-term but some things are for sure.

Technology and changing employee preferences are driving the demand for new skills and pools of talent. Companies are struggling more than ever to attract top talent, reacting quickly to the changing future of employment. We started Expert360 in response to this by empowering enterprises to build effective workforce models that enable them to be more agile, innovate faster, and create opportunities for growth. Enterprises can embrace workforce change by engaging the right talent where they are, hiring them on-demand in a few hours instead of a few months and helping their teams get more work done.

Macro shifts

Like many developed countries, Australia has an ageing population and when our biggest working demographic - the boomers - retire, we’re going to lose a large chunk of our most experienced workforce. Simultaneously, millennials will move up the ranks and Gen Z will hit the workforce, changing the way the majority of workers think about and execute work.

Last year we really saw a tipping point in the adoption of flexible working options. In 2019, we’re going to see a big increase in flexible working formats. Rather than sitting in one or two roles in the company for a number of years, employees want to work on a range of projects to master their craft and upskill. This is because those looking to increase their earning potential and future-proof themselves for jobs of the future know that the best learning is on the job.

Corporate Australia themselves are driving the growth in the highly skilled contingent workforce, in an unprecedented way. Following a wave of Cloud-based HCM deployments, our largest organisations understand the need for agility and this year they’ll double down on the systems and processes that allow them to easily bend and flex. For many this will mean investing in talent agility platforms for their internal and “known” talent, such as alumni or existing consultant/contractor benches; for others, it might just be a greater reliance on flexible marketplace talent for new talent; for many, a mix.

However, sourcing, engaging and managing freelance employees is vastly different to full-time employees and organisations need to adjust their approach accordingly to address this segment of talent specifically. As a result, I believe 2019 will be characterised by organisation’s attempting to attract and retain contingent talent at scale.

Laws of attraction

More than ever businesses are going to great lengths to be perceived as employers of choice. To date, most of the initiatives have been geared toward full-time workers. Woolworths recently announced it will pay employees superannuation during maternity leave and many companies have adopted flexible working hours across the board. Organisations are implementing more employee perks to attract highly skilled talent, which has the most choice about where, when, how, and with whom they work.

The same is true for the freelance workforce, but perhaps even more so. Career freelancers, by nature, operate on shorter contracts. For them, it’s a lifestyle choice and they’re able to pick and choose the organisations and projects of interest to them. Expert360’s most recent study into Freelancing in Australia found that a flexible schedule (32.1%), being their own boss (23.4%) and diversity of work (15.8%) were the leading reasons surveyed professionals chose to make the jump to freelancing. As professional talent increasingly adopts freelancing, organisations are going to have to try harder to accommodate their specific needs. The best talent won’t sit on the payroll - once a project finishes, organisations will need to re-broker an agreement with skilled talent or risk losing them to competitors. Retaining talent and having professionals rolling on and off as needed will require some thoughtful planning and a better understanding of what motivates these career freelancers.

Read the full Freelancing in Australia report or view Expert360’s resources for articles, customer stories and eBooks.

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