Friday, 22 April 2016 12:21

Massive shift to freelancers from full-time employment in U.S. market Featured

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Massive shift to freelancers from full-time employment in U.S. market Image courtesy of jannoon028, freedigitalphotos.net/images

Fifty percent (50%) of the workforce in the United States is expected to be freelancers by 2020, according to a new research report that reveals that long-term, full-time employment in the US is no longer the norm, and organisations need to make “crucial adjustments" to cope with the changing work environment.

The study cited by Epicor Software, from research firm EY, reveals that in the US market the most notable development in the workforce is a shift in emphasis from employee retention to worker engagement and a move to “institutionalise knowledge to ensure virtual worldwide talent pools can effortlessly engage/collaborate.

According to the research, social collaboration makes it easier for employees to contribute and transfer institutional knowledge, “supporting effective employee on-boarding and overall productivity”.

“Ironically, the upside of an ever-shifting workforce is that organisations can benefit from a constant ‘revolving door’ of talent to capitalise on an influx of news ideas, new perspectives and out-of-the-box disruptive thinking that can be key to commanding market share,” said Celia Fleischaker, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Epicor

“Ambition and entrepreneurial spirit was cited by 30% of CEOs surveyed as a key stimulant to growth. Industry research shows a strong positive correlation between collaboration and innovation. Leveraging the cloud and enterprise social networking can support anytime anywhere collaboration for business that knows no boundaries, allowing organisations to capture innovation upside.”

Epicor commissioned its own research, undertaken by MORAR Consulting, which primarily focuses on what Epicor calls 'tech savvy millennials' , and shows that millenials are expected to account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025 – but that business executives are not thinking too much about recruiting millennials.

According to Epicor, the growth in the number of millennials in the global workforce “underscores the need to address human capital and next-generation workforce requirements to fuel business growth”.

But the Epicor research reveals that globally only 39% of business execs surveyed said recruiting millennials was a “fairly significant” or “major” focus for their organisations, revealing what Epicor says is a critical disconnect as technology leadership and a skilled workforce were top growth stimulants identified by those polled.

In Australia, according to the research, this number (business execs saying they will recruit millennials) was markedly less at 27%.  

Epicor says the research shows that the manufacturing industry worldwide increasingly relies on technology to drive growth, and it’s estimated that nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled in the US over the next decade. The research also notes that, with the working age population shrinking and Baby Boomers heading into retirement, millennial talent will be a key element to drive business growth in the next decade.

“The relative indifference in recruiting millennials to the workplace is especially surprising considering they are the fastest-growing generation in the US workforce, and are both technology proficient and digital literate,” Fleischaker observes.

“Businesses that recognise and move to leverage millennial talent can gain significant competitive advantage in today’s age of digital disruption.

“Our research reveals many human resource challenges stand in the way of business growth that technology can help address. Organisations must re-think their relationship with digitally-literate workers and retool their organisations to attract, connect and empower this next-generation workforce via cloud, mobile, analytics and other enabling technologies.”

According to Fleischaker, considering millennials are the fastest-growing generation in the US workforce, and are both technology proficient and digital literate, businesses that recognise and move to leverage millennial talent can gain “significant competitive advantage in today’s age of digital disruption”.

“Our research reveals many human resource challenges stand in the way of business growth that technology can help address. Organisations must re-think their relationship with digitally-literate workers and retool their organisations to attract, connect and empower this next-generation workforce via cloud, mobile, analytics and other enabling technologies,” Fleischaker advises.

According to the Epicor research, many organisations are working to develop the technology infrastructure that is necessary to attract and support the “workforce of the future”, with 79% of business leaders surveyed making, or are making, investments in integrated IT infrastructure.

“Sitting at the intersection of workers and systems to unite information and execution, technology plays a vital role in reducing complexity, improving the quality of work life, and enhancing productivity,” Fleischaker says.

“Freeing valuable staff from mundane tasks was considered important by 68% of those polled whereas using technology to automate key processes, along with allowing key individuals to focus on more stimulating tasks, was cited as a top goal of 67% of those surveyed.  

“What’s more, technology is necessary to prepare businesses for the next iteration of work encompassing robotics and artificial intelligence. Today we’re talking about workforce strategies concerning millennials. Tomorrow we’ll be talking about key considerations in the next workplace evolution—when millennials meet machines,” Fleischaker concludes.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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