There have been many changes to the American workforce over the years, but few have happened as quickly or as strongly as the rise of the gig economy. In fact, 40% of the U.S. workforce will be made up of contingent workers by the year 2020. Portland is no stranger to this shift, as gig employment in the area rose 22% in just a two-year span with every indication that the pace will quicken further. There are several reasons why the Portland gig economy is experiencing such growth, and numerous ways it’s changing the landscape of tech hiring.
It’s no secret that locating and recruiting skilled tech talent is difficult. At a time when open roles outnumber available candidates, job seekers have more power than ever to dictate the terms of their employment. But what exactly do tech pros want?
Today’s workforce prefers project-based or freelance-type work more and more. Portland tech pros want more flexibility in their schedules, with the ability to shift their hours or work from home. They desire more variety in the tasks they work on, with the option to take vacations when they want so that they don’t burn out working 60 hours per week indefinitely. Not only does the gig economy cater to these preferences but compensation for contingent IT labor is on the rise, with a 64% increase in people who earn more than $100,000 per year working independently.
As 10,000 Baby Boomers continue to leave the workforce through retirement each day, they are taking with them old-school mentalities about what a job and career should look like. Millennials are now America’s largest generation, and by 2025 it’s estimated they will make up 75% of the country’s workforce. This group has effectively grown up alongside the internet and has a different idea of what their future careers will look like. Many millennials greatly value work/life balance, prefer to use technology for communication, and see no reason why they can’t work from home on various projects. As they continue to replace outgoing Baby Boomers, Portland hiring managers are finding no choice but to tailor roles accordingly.
To fulfill their responsibilities, many tech pros simply require a fast, secure internet connection and a strong computer. Intertwined with the rise of the gig economy is the increase in remote working options across the country and in Portland. 43% of employed Americans spend at least some time working remotely. Of those, 31% work remotely four to five days per week, a number that has increased significantly in recent years. With studies showing that these workers are more productive, happier, and feel more valued than non-remote workers, it’s clear that an increase in remote work options is great for all parties and is amplifying the growth of the gig economy.
Employers competing for skilled tech talent in Portland are increasingly left with no choice but to adapt to this modern Talent Economy by offering positions that are project-based, shorter-term, and more flexible. Fortunately, such a shift has many benefits for businesses. Breaking down goals and deliverables into smaller, strategic chunks allows for greater agility when changes arise. Likewise, hiring managers can secure highly-specialized skills for a specific project and not have an obligation to that talent after the project is complete and that expertise is no longer necessary. This new outlook for better utilizing talent is a big reason why 100% of U.S. net employment growth in the last decade has come from alternative or contingent labor.
More than just a trending topic for news outlets, the rise of the gig economy is having a tangible effect on tech employers throughout the country. In Portland, businesses have recognized that if they don’t adapt they will be left behind, as the best talent will simply go elsewhere. However, adapting to the gig economy means implementing a new, holistic strategy surrounding talent acquisition. That is the very reason we created the Staffing Lifecycle Management framework that can help businesses navigate modern tech hiring.