Traditional staffing -- the hiring of one person, full-time with benefits, to fulfill one role -- has been common in the workplace for decades, but alternative staffing strategies have been on the rise. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nontraditional staffing is widespread and has grown steadily since the 1990s, with businesses expecting to use alternative staffing much more in the future.
Given these trends, it is important for every business and organization to understand alternative staffing, why it is growing so rapidly, and the benefits it offers to employers and employees.
“All of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.” - RAND American Life Panel (ALP)
What is alternative staffing?
We can understand alternative staffing best by understanding what it is not. It is not traditional staffing, which involves hiring full-time, in-house employees who work exclusively for one organization. Alternative staffing involves other staffing arrangements such as independent contracting, part-time work, seasonal work, gig work, and more.
Why is alternative staffing growing so rapidly?
Why is alternative staffing growing at such unprecedented rates? Why is this phenomenon taking place today instead of 50 years ago?
To start, the internet makes it easier than ever to work flexibly. Employees no longer need to be near file cabinets and paper forms to do their work. Increasingly, businesses are operating “in the cloud,” meaning that work files can be accessed from places other than the office.
This flexibility allows workers to take on more of the responsibility for their livelihoods. Many workers use multiple part-time or freelance work opportunities to design the kinds of lifestyles they prefer. Others may keep a traditional, full-time job but choose to supplement it with freelance or gig work on the side (the term “side hustle” has grown in popularity as of late).
The rise in freelance, gig, part-time, and side hustle work necessitated a rise in “gig platforms” to connect those who want to utilize their time, skills, and assets with those who want to pay for them. These platforms have created a huge opportunity for companies looking to use alternative staffing strategies and the workers seeking to engage with them.
Companies like Uber, Lyft, Fiverr, WeGoLook, and others are changing the way workers are hired. Instead of relying only on traditional hiring, companies can now add these powerful platforms to their HR toolbelts.
What are the benefits of alternative staffing for employers?
Alternative staffing provides many advantages for businesses. First, it allows employers to be more adaptable by giving them the ability to swiftly respond to changes in demand. In a report on alternative staffing, the U.S. Department of Labor noted that, “Among the most common reasons employers cite for using nontraditional workers are to accommodate workload fluctuations and to fill positions that are temporarily open due to permanent employees’ short-term absences.”
Second, alternative staffing is often less expensive than traditional staffing since employers do not need to provide benefits nor pay payroll taxes to non-traditional workers.
But the advent of gig platforms bring another benefit previously unimaginable. Now, employers can instantly and affordably tap into vast networks with wide geographic footprints giving them boots-on-the-ground operations that are available on-demand. At WeGoLook, for example, our on-demand workforce of over 30,000 Lookers covers all of North America, even very remote areas, allowing our enterprise customers to establish nationwide footprints with little to no upfront investment.
How does alternative staffing benefit employees?
Flexibility. Flexibility. Flexibility. For the modern day worker, alternative staffing arrangements mean more control over schedules, types of work, and more.
Instead of reporting to regular 9-5 jobs, workers in alternative staffing arrangements can work at times that better fit their schedules and needs. They can control over their workloads, the kinds of work they do, and often even the rates they charge. They can specialize in one type of work, or build in variety with different kinds of jobs each day.
While all types of alternative staffing arrangements offer some degree of flexibility, gig platforms exponentially increase the variety available. According to a recent study, 96% of gig workers surveyed noted that the flexibility of this type of work was its most appealing attribute.
In some parts of our country, alternative styles of work are not just perks or luxuries: they are crucial options for workers when traditional jobs are scarce. According to one study, 17 percent of people surveyed reported a lack of traditional jobs in their local areas. The availability of gig work when traditional employment is not an option help to explain why the gig economy has grown 27 percent over traditional employment in the last two decades.
Alternative staffing offers undeniable benefits to both workers and employers. Workers gain job flexibility and greater access to work, while companies reduce costs, increase productivity, and tap into vast, distributed, on-demand networks. It’s no wonder that 65 percent of employers believe they will enhance their use of alternative staffing arrangements in the future. Couple this trend with the development of innovative mobile technologies, making it easier than ever to connect employees with those seeking labor, and it’s easy to see how alternative staffing has the potential to make your business more cost effective, more efficient, and a more positive environment through which workers of all types can engage.
Questions about the gig economy? Wondering how a distributed workforce of on-demand workers might benefit your business? We’d love to help! Contact us to learn more about using alternative staffing in your business.