What does the next generation of contingent workers look like?


With the contingent workforce projected to grow by 53% over the next year, we take a deep dive into what organisations can expect from the next generation of contingent workers. The market for contingent workers continues to evolve rapidly resulting in contingent workforce solutions having to be more agile. But what are the big drivers for change? What are the new opportunities? And how are providers meeting the challenge?

What are the drivers for this change?

Employers are dealing with a workforce that has changing aspirations and expectations, where they feel more enabled and empowered to work more flexibly. McKinsey reports that 36% of the workplace self-identifies as independent workers, with this figure projected to grow.

Put simply, more people are working less through choice. Whether they are moving into early semi-retirement, putting their quality of life first, or using technology to work smarter, becoming a flexible, contingent worker is seen as an opportunity for the next generation.  

Another factor for change is the increasing age diversity in the workplace, where most workforces are now mostly made up of a combination of Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. As work environments endeavour to meet the needs of a wider range of people, it is likely that some workers prefer to create their own ways of working.

Changing worker expectations results in employers adapting. Organisations are increasingly recognising the generational shift and expanding their contingent workforce. This introduces opportunities to effectively control costs around recruitment, complete project-based work more easily and fill skills gaps quicker in the short-term.

5 innovations the next generation of contingent workers would benefit from

How are contingent workforce solutions changing to meet the needs of an evolving market? We have identified 5 innovations that employers and their suppliers are adding to their solutions.

1. A direct-to-talent strategy

As organisations increase their contingent workforce, that naturally means an increase in the use of recruitment agencies and an increase in cost. Building a direct-to-talent strategy for contingent workers helps organisations reduce agency costs, build better direct relationships with talent and increase loyalty amongst their core base of contingent workers.

2. Scalable technology

Previously, the Vendor Management Systems that contingent workforce solutions are built upon were focused on the day-to-day management of recruitment agencies, harmonising processes and ensuring compliance. However, organisations are now looking for more agile, scalable technology platforms and integrated solutions. This would allow them to build their own contingent talent community, improve the candidate experience and engage talent through marketing and communications.

3. High quality marketing and analytics

Generally, a growing contingent worker population and increased competition for flexible talent results in organisations looking for better ways to market their contingent opportunities and engage with talent to adhere to the next generation of workers. Additionally, new technology platforms are enabling in-house recruiters and their MSP to think differently about how they fill roles.

4. An improved end-to-end experience

In the past, employers have been guilty of neglecting the contingent worker experience and leaving too much of the end-to-end experience to the agency, which would make it too process-driven. Undoubtedly, as worker expectations evolve, the focus has shifted to thinking more about how organisations recruit and retain contingent workers. This particularly highlights the vital need to make improvements in how contingent workers are onboarded, engaged, and supported with issues around invoicing, tax and payment.

5. A unified vision

The vocabulary around how MSPs and employers view the future workforce is already changing. The emphasis is shifting to a conversation around how to build a universal talent solution and a consistent, unified and branded experience for both contingent and permanent workers. By focusing on building an integrated workforce, rather than simply an extended workforce, talent acquisition teams are able to think more strategically. Specifically, about when and where they make new hires, how they fill roles, bring new skills into the business and proactively manage the talent that the business needs.


Overall, there is no doubt that the contingent labour market is undergoing a significant period of change. MSPs and their clients are working together to adapt to changing market conditions, find ways to build smarter solutions and establish better relationships with contingent workers and candidates. Markets that are ready for change also attract disruptors and the contingent market is seeing an influx of new technologies and innovations. It is likely that the next generation of workers and future innovations will offer organisations more choice and opportunities when implementing a contingent workforce solution. It will be interesting to see what types of organisations act as early adopters and embrace those innovations as they implement new programs.

If you require any support in building out your contingent solution to stay ahead of the trends, get in touch with us and we can help you on your journey!