3 Reasons the On-Demand Talent Market is Booming
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the fundamentals of how we think about work. At Catalant, we live at the intersection of three important behavior shifts that have greatly increased both supply and demand for on-demand experts from our expert marketplace. We just closed a record-breaking quarter, fueled by the confluence of these trends.
Trend #1: More Available Talent
You’ve heard the statistics. More than 30 million jobs lost to the pandemic, with an unprecedented number of people prevented from even looking for a new job. And while low-wage workers were most impacted, the pandemic also wreaked havoc on white collar jobs at many of the country’s largest employers. In the past few weeks, ExxonMobil, Charles Schwab, and Raytheon announced thousands of layoffs — adding to large layoffs earlier this year from SalesForce, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and others.
Many of these highly-skilled workers have gravitated to the Catalant expert marketplace. In May alone we saw an 88% increase in experts signing up for the platform when compared to the 2019 average. A recent study from Upwork and Edelman Intelligence says the percentage of American workers actively freelancing increased from 28% to 36% since 2019. Half of those are highly-skilled knowledge workers, according to the study.
In many cases, knowledge workers are seeking contract work while searching for a new permanent position. Others are likely rethinking their careers. According to the Upwork/Edelman survey, 75% of contract workers say they’re making as much or more than they did when employed full time.
The upshot is that there has never been a better time to find highly-skilled experts available for temporary work.
Trend #2: The Move to a Flexible Workforce
The traditional workforce is dominated by full-time employees hired to meet 100% of expected demand according to the company’s strategic goals. And yet a recent McKinsey survey found that 71% of business leaders said they planned to rely more on contingent or temporary workers in the near future.
This is indicative of a shift illuminated by Harvard Business School professor Joseph Fuller in a recent conversation with Catalant CEO Pat Petitti. He pointed to a seismic shift in the way organizations think about resources, staffing to the trough of demand rather than the peak, filling in the gaps with on-demand workers available through marketplaces like Catalant’s.
We’ve seen this unfold at Catalant, with increased demand for on-demand experts beginning at the outset of the pandemic and continuing through the present. We’ve also seen organizations turn to on-demand talent to help tackle more strategic projects that support their overall organizational strategies. The average project sourced through Catalant is 30% larger than the 2019 average, with even greater growth in key strategic areas like corporate strategy (73% growth). As more businesses grow comfortable working remotely, we expect the shift toward a flexible workforce to accelerate.
Trend #3: New Models for Working with On-Demand Talent
While some have predicted the movement toward on-demand work for years (Dan Pink’s Free Agent Nation was published way back in 2001), the shift has been slow to materialize. While a flexible workforce may have obvious benefits for executing on strategic objectives more quickly, organizational dynamics such as internal politics, risk and compliance fears, and good old fashioned corporate inertia have hampered progress.
As the market has matured, however, new models have emerged to make it easier for business leaders to work with on-demand talent providers to reap the full economic benefits of the flexible workforce. For example, Catalant’s enterprise marketplace service offers a holistic suite of software and services to streamline the process of sourcing and deploying on-demand talent at scale. The program includes a SaaS platform for organizing and tracking work, demand planning, and more — with guided assistance from the Catalant team. By partnering closely with Catalant, organizations like Shell and Anheuser-Busch InBev are pioneering new ways of working — integrating on-demand talent into strategic workforce planning for reduced cost, faster deployment of resources, and more effective strategy execution.
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