There were several workforce trends that stood out this week at the HROToday Forum in Philadelphia. The rising contingent workforce and its impact on employers was one of them. It makes sense. The largest staffing firms, RPOs, and MSPs in the world were in attendance along with practitioners in HR and talent from large brands and tech vendors addressing this growing challenge as well.

I see this trend – 50% of the Fortune 100 workforce being contingent by 2020 –  having one of the biggest impacts on the future of work and the workplace. The contingent workforce used to be a topic confined to IT and shop floor and day labor type environments. No longer. Regulatory pressure from programs like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have got employers looking at the contingent workforce as way to lower costs and minimize risk.

The contingent workforce has creeped into strategic functions in media, marketing, strategy, product, sales, and more. Game day decisions are made by line managers on a daily basis on whether to freelance or hire direct.

Along with the trends impacting the employer’s decisions to focus on contingent hires, the workforce preferences seem to be changing as well. Studies by MBO Partners, CareerBuilder, and Harris Interactive have all shown that the workforce is becoming more inclined to work in ways that fit well with a contingent model.

I met some executives from Work Market, a new growing online marketplace connecting freelancers and employers, at HROToday. Their experience has shown that the emerging workforce, the “millenials” people love to talk about, are showing more of a preference to work this way.

The contingent workforce trend came up during HROToday’s CHRO panel and I sensed fear in a few of the CHROs on the panel. They were counting on future regulations to dampen the trend. I don’t think so. This isn’t a future issue that is relegated to the shop floor or day labor. It’s an issue that has potential to spread throughout an employer’s workforce. Future regulation may put a finer point on tax burdens and healthcare coverage, but these regulations will more likely enable the trend with clarification, versus dampen it.

It’s going to be interesting to watch. I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you see this impacting employers beyond traditional contingent talent sets? Do you think the trend will continue? Let me know in the comments, or get in touch here.

Read more of my thoughts on the contingent workforce.

Does your tech product help employers work with the growing contingent workforce trend? Let’s get you in the #hrwins.

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