Business owners have a lot of trouble finding
top talent--especially some that are limited by certain geographical factors.
Rather than go all-in on finding the much-coveted full-time job, many
professionals are instead opting to provide expertise as a service. This is
essentially freelancing, and the number of workers who partake in this “gig
economy” has increased substantially. It has quickly become the norm for a lot
of organizations.

A Brief
History of Temporary Workers

Temporary workers and staffing agencies are
nothing new. They originated in the 1950s as a way to help women who had worked
during the war find jobs once the war-related ones fizzled out. Employers were
able to find workers to help them manage their responsibilities, and they
wouldn’t have to risk firing workers and not being able to find replacements on
short notice. It also meant that employers wouldn’t have to fill out the
paperwork for new hires or be responsible for employee regulations. This trend
continued through the late-20th century, making employment agencies a
completely normal way of finding employment. Unfortunately, this also meant
that certain workers who were no longer protected by federal mandates found
themselves dependent on market trends in order to find work.

As these markets grew larger, there became a
higher demand for workers in these markets. The Internet allowed some services
to flourish, making it easier for workers to work remotely; this gave freelance
professionals more opportunities to find work. There are now over 150 million
workers in North America and Western Europe alone that are fulfilling their own
paychecks, providing services or working as consultants.

Makeup of the Gig Economy and Why They Do It

Multiple generations of workers, including
millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers take part in the gig economy. Some
older workers who get laid off or suffer from medical issues find that
freelancing can help them with their working issues, but millennials
prioritizing a work-life balance find that the flexibility works well for their

The autonomy enabled by the gig economy gives
workers the ability to take employment into their own hands while they look for
more traditional work (if they actually are looking). This comes with the risk
of not having a regular job, which has led some gig economy workers to join
placement companies who find them work. Overall, the gig economy gives talented
professionals the opportunity to find work on their own terms.

How Do
Gig Workers Get Jobs?

The Internet is the best asset a gig worker
can ask for, as it gives them access to applications, website-based bids, and
word of mouth. Even companies hire freelancers from time-to-time if they don’t
want to onboard another salaried employee for a position. Unlike temporary
work, however, the workers in the gig economy generally aren’t looking for a
full-time job, which means finding a consistent worker might be more
challenging than expected.

Companies that rely on contracted work often
find that the costs associated with temporary workers is far less than hiring
full-time employees. This comes with the downside of protections for gig
workers being non-existent. Thus, the importance of knowing what makes up the
workforce remains, as well as understanding how your workers are being

How has your business been impacted by the gig
economy? Let us know in the comments.