You probably already know by now that one of the biggest growing trends in the workforce has been the increase of freelance workers. Freelance work has gained traction as young people – yes, the mythical millennials – have grown out of the traditional idea of what work “should be,” and innovated new roles to play in their careers.

The workforce of independent freelancers is only expected to grow, looking to be about 55 percent of the population by 2020. It is important to know what motivates a freelancer to work for a business, because you’ll more than likely hire one (or many) sometime in 2016.

There are two main reasons that the workplace is shifting. Let’s break them down to analyze closely:

1. The biggest change in the workplace is technology and the capabilities we have today that weren’t around even five years ago. Cheap but effective computing power paired with tech-savvy millennials opens doors that previous generations could only dream of.

Millennials have grown up with technology at their fingertips, and have the skills to develop programs to make work easier and more efficient. They can now do the work that before, only trained professionals could do. To top it off, they can do all that work wherever and whenever they want – which has serious appeal to them! Freelancers are doing this for a reason – don’t put them in a box, or you’ll just be harming your own project.

2. That leads us to the next big change – social changes. Millennials are now one fourth of managers in the workplace, and they value work-life balance enough to leave traditional workplaces and make their own career path. Studies have shown that Millennials care more about their work being meaningful than about the size of the paycheck it brings home. This contributes to their sense of righteousness in leaving a 9-5 job for something they really care about. If the job you’re offering doesn’t mean anything to them, they won’t come – plain and simple.

Millennials have also been hit hardest by economic downturn because it is more difficult for them to find a job. However, according to the Freelancer’s Union, 77 percent of freelancers say they make the same amount of money or more freelancing than at their traditional job. It is a lucrative option for Millennials to work in freelance to have their independence, flexibility and competitive pay. This means you can’t skimp on compensation if you want to hire a freelancer.

With rapid technological innovations, consumers want what they want, when they want it. The on-demand workforce is being prompted by on-demand consumerism. People with money but no time are trading services with people who have time but no money. What this means for you? Be prepared for more demands, faster. Uber, InstaCart and Amazon Dash Buttons have people short on patience and ready for your services… yesterday.

Understanding these shifts will become crucial for your business to thrive. Management must adapt to the expectations of a changing workforce and consumerism to stay competitive and attract top talent. Providing flexibility,  competitive wages and the freedom to innovate will be of utmost importance to the new generation of workers.

It is also important for your business to know what constitutes a “freelancer” and how to handle these workers legally and socially. For more information on those topics, see another of our articles about the on-demand workforce here.

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