Gig economy and millennials

7 Reasons the Gig Economy May Only Get Giggier and How Your Staffing Agency Can Benefit

With Millennials set to make up three quarters of the workforce by 2025, staffing agencies can leverage the gig economy to grow more quickly.

We’ve coupled data from an Elance-oDesk deck titled The 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce and a Kauffman Foundation report that show all signs point to a gig economy that’s only going to get giggier as Millennials take over the workforce. There are seven key stats that tell the tale. Your staffing agency needs to be aware of these trends so that you can better-prepare to market to employers as well as freelancers in the years to come.

What is the Gig Economy?

A gig economy is defined as a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. With a generation of Millennials that will dominate the workforce for the next several years comes worker preferences for flexibility, self-management and the ability to have more control over work-life than previous generations demanded. These preferences along with Millennial’s education and skill set may transform the staffing agency landscape, with more and more agencies marketing to freelancers and fewer permanent placements.

How the Gig Economy Will Change Staffing Agency Marketing

1. Millennials May Comprise 75% of the Workforce by 2025 (Kauffman)

  • 39% of Millennials have had difficulty finding a traditional job
  • 53% of hiring managers say it’s difficult to recruit and retain Millennials

Despite the recovery, many Millennials have had difficulty finding an ideal job situation. And more than half of the hiring managers surveyed by Elance-oDesk said that they had moderate to extreme difficulty in recruiting and retaining Millennials. Hiring managers want them and Millennials want jobs – so what’s the problem?  The misalignment could lie in the work-life preferences of Millennials, which don’t always match up well with “traditional” 8 to 5 jobs.

2. 58% of Millennials Expect to Stay in Their Job Less Than 3 Years

Millennials don’t want to stand still and they aren’t inclined to wait their turn. In many cases they are better-educated and more tech savvy than older workers, which may also contribute to impatience. If they aren’t moving up, they are likely to move on.

Staffing agencies should market openings accordingly. If an employer isn’t going to show a young employee the path upward, the staffing agency can demonstrate the variety and quality of placements they have for highly-skilled, tech savvy workers. Indeed, working with a staffing agency could be highly attractive to Millennials who want the independence of freelancing without the need to run a business or attract customers. The staffing agency could market themselves as a pseudo-employer, handling everything from payroll taxes to tax filing and even help Millennials complete the paperwork needed to operate as independent professionals.

3. 52% of Millennials Say Corporate Loyalty is Outdated, Cutting Own Path = Success

Millennials aren’t going to stay on in a company for 40 years to get a watch and a pension. In fact, few employers offer traditional retirement programs anymore anyway. Millennials understand that they need to save for their own retirement, and one way they can do that is by becoming business owners, taking the cap off their earnings potential and investing from their own earnings into retirement-friendly accounts.

For staffing agencies, this is good news. Many Millennials whose skills are in high demand are going to realize that they can make more money working as freelancers. Staffing agencies who successfully recruit these talented workers may be able to place them over and over again.

4. 79% of Millennials Want to Join the Gig Economy

8 out of 10 Millennials would consider quitting their jobs to work for themselves in the near future. In particular, the flexibility and ability to control one’s own time and priorities appeals to Millennials.


staffing agency marketing to freelancers in the gig economy

They value:

  • 66% – Flexible work times
  • 56% – Flexible work place
  • 53% – Ability to work on what interests them, choose what to work on
  • 44% – Control of own destiny
  • 43% – No office politics
  • 43% – Control over their workload

Millennials are more concerned with the quality of their work life (flexibility, working with people they like, etc.) and less concerned with money than many employers realize.


What millennials want vs what hiring managers perceive they want

Staffing agencies can appeal to Millennials work-life preferences and even work with employers to offer talented workers placements where they retain more control over their workload quantity and quality, and have the option to work from home and/or maintain a flexible schedule.

5. 41% of Hiring Managers Plan Support the Gig Economy by Hiring More Freelancers in the Next 5 Years

As a staffing agency recruiter, this should get your attention. More hiring managers plan to work with freelancers during the next five years. While it’s good news that employers will be open to temporary placements instead of recruiting through agencies for permanent hires, it’s also a potential problem.

How staffing agencies can grow with freelancers in the gig economy


  • They can start working immediately
  • Workload can be scaled up and down to fit employer’s needs and budget
  • Access to specific / in demand skills
  • Lower cost of talent acquisition, infrastructure (desk space, equipment, etc.)
  • More flexible, adept team

If your staffing agency successfully recruits talented freelancers, you will be in a position to help employers who want to work with them. If not, hiring managers may go around staffing and recruiting professionals and recruit freelancers directly.

6. 69% of Millennials Who Have Never Freelanced Before Would Do So for Adequate Revenue

There are highly-skilled, talented Millennials who could represent thousands of dollars in placement revenues for your staffing agency just waiting to “see” the way forward. Staffing agencies that develop programs for risk-averse Millennials who want to work independently, but aren’t sure if they can make it work, will put themselves into a better position than competitors who wait for Millennial workers to act on their own.

7. 82% of Millennials Say It’s Easier than Ever to Start a Business  

  • 37% – much easier
  • 46% – a bit easier
  • 10% – neither easier nor harder
  • 6% – a bit harder
  • 1% – much harder

Millennial workers could propel your staffing agency to new heights. You need staffing agency marketing campaigns that appeal to the unique work-life preferences of Millennials and help to overcome the fear they may have of going out on their own. Given the size of the workforce, developing a program that helps Millennials who want to work independently get their businesses established could give your agency an edge with this generation that results in more placements and helps you outmaneuver the competition.



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