It is clear that the world of work is changing but will it look like in 2013. Pressure to do more with less (and that usually means less employees) will be the theme of the economic landscape for the immediate future so that means even more emphasis will be placed on the “non-employee” sector of the workforce. These consultants, contractors, freelancers and contingent “temp” workers will be a more interdependent component of the human capital strategy. Procuring this talent will be an increasingly critical part of the procurement professional’s responsibilities.
MBO Partners, a thought leader in the $250-billion and growing independent consulting sector in America, offers five key independent work predictions that will shape the American business landscape in 2013.
Prediction 5. The Empire Strikes Back. As even more Americans turn to independent work, federal, state, and local tax and labor agencies will try to put the genie back into the bottle with aggressive employee reclassification enforcement, triggering increased fear of huge penalties and the threats of class-action lawsuits.
Expect increased scrutiny of companies engaging independent workers as either 1099 workers, single-person corporations, and even through online payment services like PayPal or credit card -- all to ensure appropriate taxes are being withheld.
Tip: Look out for greater inter-agency collaboration and data sharing between Federal and State labor and tax regulators. Also look for efforts from regulators to create public-private partnership solutions to help with tax compliance.
Prediction 4. Microbusiness will be Big Business. The number of firms with just one employee has steadily increased, growing from about 14 million in 1992 to nearly 22 million in 2010. By contrast, The US Small Business Administration reports employer firms fluctuated from a little less than 5 million to more than 6 million over the past 25 years.
The nation’s nearly 17 million independent professionals will continue to drive a micro-business revolution and will work in loose collaboration with other micro-firms to increase their share of the economic pie.
Independent work will become the incubator for the birth of new employer based businesses, as 1 in 12 independent workers plan to launch larger employer firms in 2013.
Tip: Expect increased interest from economists and policy makers in the behaviors and motivations of solopreneurs and microbusinesses as a new jobs-creation engine.
Prediction 3. Companies Tap the Expert Talent Pool. Look for contingent talent management to take on a more strategic role in the boardroom and on the HR agenda as companies embrace the use of just-in-time expert talent.
Expect more buyers — all the way from large enterprises to start-ups — to use the expert economy to obtain competitive advantage by cutting time-to-market costs, or by optimizing their talent mix.
Look for the independent workers across the generations to be tapped as flexible assets — from millennial creative, to mid-career Gen X’ers, to Encore-act baby boomers.
Tip: Look for companies to invest more in alternative workforce arrangements than ever before to retain and attract expert talent.
Prediction 2. The Solo Support Industry Grows Up. 2013 will give rise to a host of new products and services for the independent worker:
Expect a multitude of niche marketplaces to connect independent experts directly with the organizations that need to tap their services.
Expect more self-help and content-based guidance for becoming self-employed, especially for experienced workers.
Look for growth in managed services and self-service tools for business management, including sales and marketing, CRM, contract management, taxes, accounting, billing, benefits and professional development.
Expect to see a greater jump in coworking or solo office arrangements to support a growth in workers, with a trend to even more niche co-working solutions for specific talent pools.
Tip: On the heels of the new Affordable Healthcare Act, expect to see more health care solutions designed to address the needs of the growing solo worker population.
And Prediction Number 1: The New ‘Revolving Door’ Career. Long considered a negative, the new ‘Revolving Door’ career between independent work and traditional employment will become a career positive for both employers and workers. By the end of this decade, one in two members of the U.S. private workforce will have tasted or embraced career independence, moving seamlessly between traditionally employed and independent work roles. As professionals revolve, they will also evolve, gaining specific, marketable expertise to help take them to the next career level.
Expect individuals to move between full-time and contract gigs in an attempt to climb, and not fall down, the career ladder.
Expect an ever-greater number of career reinventions from late-stage experts retiring from traditional work and starting solo professional services firms.
Expect more returning workers to offer fresh perspective and energy and help to re-shape the enterprise’s view of worker value and impact
Tip: According to contingent workforce expert Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners, “Professionals will use the independent work path to change, extend and grow their careers. No longer will independent work be a black mark on the resume; instead, expect it to become a tool to fast-track a career.”