Who’s behind the screen? Understanding the contingent workforce

The contingent workforce has revolutionized how companies find and retain talent. According to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), contingent workers made up 35% of the U.S. workforce in 2021, with that number increasing in 2022.

As candidates react to significant labor market changes over the last few years, many are deciding to jump into the gig economy, whether for financial reasons, work-life balance or remote work flexibility.

While companies have begun adapting to this new normal, it’s essential to understand who makes up the contingent workforce and how to attract top talent. Although many contingent workers are from the millennial generation and Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers have an important role to play in this ever-changing workforce. 

Who makes up the contingent workforce?

Millennials make up a significant portion of the workforce as a whole, with projected data showing that this generation will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025. As a generation that grew up with the internet and exponential technological growth, it’s not surprising that millennials also make up a large portion of the contingent workforce. According to a recent study by the Angus Reid Institute, 40% of millennials in Canada are part of the gig economy. For this generation, which was significantly impacted by the “hustle culture” mentality that often led to burn-out, work-life balance and financial growth are key factors in choosing a freelance or contract position.

While Gen Z and Gen X also make up a portion of the contingent workforce, an increasing number of boomers are embracing the gig economy as a way of staying in their careers longer and filling financial gaps during retirement. According to a Statista survey, 46% of baby boomers admitted to accepting freelance or contract positions to supplement their income.  

Building a solid workforce – How to attract candidates by generation

As companies continue to develop their contingent worker programs, many are turning to Direct Sourcing in order to attract and retain top talent. Before reaching out to candidates, it’s important to understand what motivates each generation. 

Gen Z and Millennials

As the youngest generations, Gen Z (born between 2001–2020) and Millennials (born between 1981–2000) are comfortable around new technology and spend most of their time online. Social media, emails and instant messages work best when engaging with this demographic, though messages should be well-crafted and personalized. 

Millennials are motivated by challenging work, professional growth and work-life balance. They value personal connections, flexibility and immediate feedback. Gen Z on the other hand, are motivated by independence, individuality and innovation. They also value work-life balance and care about working in diverse and inclusive environments.

Gen X and Baby Boomers

Born between 1965 and 1980, many Gen Xers are approaching retirement and see the gig economy as a way to maintain a healthy personal-professional balance while supplementing their income. Curators focused on a candidate from this demographic should highlight a position’s flexible work arrangements and personal development opportunities. Like Millennials, Gen Xers do well with immediate feedback, but are happy to reach out over the phone.

Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, feel a sense of duty to their employers. When engaging with this generation, curators should remember that Boomers have different personal and professional goals than younger candidates. They value loyalty and teamwork, and are often hesitant to retire and leave the workforce. Contingent positions allow this generation to avoid full retirement while maintaining financial stability. 

How talent acquisition platforms can attract all generations

Direct Sourcing solutions allow curators to find talent faster and more efficiently. Some helpful features include:

  • Candidate matching. Solutions with AI-powered job-matching features, like TalentNet, improve the candidate experience and simplify the application process, making it easy for talent who aren’t as comfortable with technology, such as Boomers. This feature quickly matches candidates to open positions based on their experience, allowing users to apply for jobs in only 60 seconds. 
  • Conversational-AI powered platforms. This technology allows curators to optimize the hiring process using simple prompts. TalentNet’s job optimization feature helps curators quickly write well-crafted job descriptions aimed at anyone from Millennials and Gen Z to Gen X and Boomers, while our TalentNavigator platform acts as an intelligent conversational assistant, allowing curators to ask for any information in the company’s candidate database. 
  • Seamless communication features. When choosing a Direct Sourcing solution, ensure it has the ability to easily engage candidates through emails and SMS. It’s especially helpful to have templates that empower curators to create personalized messages for different stages of the hiring process.

Engaging each generation for a holistic hiring strategy

Each generation has their own strengths and benefits in the contingent workforce. To attract a wide-variety of talent, it’s important to understand your candidates and reach them in a personalized, efficient manner. TalentNet’s Direct Sourcing solution allows companies to optimize their contingent worker programs by engaging with candidates from all generations. Click here to book a demo.