Mavenlink Study Finds that Senior Executives, Not Millennials, Driving US Towards Gig Economy

Sep 28, 2017

Mavenlink Study Finds that Senior Executives, Not Millennials, Driving US Towards Gig Economy

79 Percent of Executives State They are Looking to Hire Contractors to Fill Management and Senior Executive Roles, Including C-suite

IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 28, 2017— Mavenlink, the leading provider of cloud-based software for the modern services organization and a Gartner Cool Vendor*, released a new research study today titled, “The White-Collar Gig Economy: On-Demand Workforce Trends According to Today’s Business Leaders.” The study uncovers significant trends in enterprise use of external contractors; growing enterprise demand for on-demand support, influx of highly skilled contractors into the workforce, business challenges, and increased individual interest in flexible work structures. Together, the findings point to a universal movement toward an on-demand, white-collar workforce.

  • 94 percent of business leaders plan to continue using or expand their use of skilled contractors for specialized roles in the next year.
  • 79 percent of executives state leveraging contractors is a competitive advantage, citing an increase in agility as the primary benefit.
  • 47 percent state they are looking to hire contractors to fill management and senior executive roles, including c-suite contractors.
  • The two qualities leaders value most in potential contractors are specialized degrees (35 percent) and a decade or more of experience (29 percent).
  • 69 percent of organizations have inadequate support structures and policies for managing on-demand talent, and 77 percent state they do not understand what changes are required to better manage contractors.
  • 63 percent of full-time executives would switch to become a contractor, given the opportunity.
  • Job security—not benefits—is the number one reason full time employees remain in their role. 62 percent of white collar workers prioritize security, while only 23 percent rate benefits as the most important.

“In the midst of major transformation, executives are being forced to reimagine how they organize and manage the workforce, and increasingly we see that contractors are the preferred model of the future,” said Ray Grainger, CEO and Founder of Mavenlink. “Our viewpoint is that it’s an absolute must that organizations tap into expertise they don’t have in the form of external resources. Sometimes this is an individual, and that is a growing segment of the workforce. In addition, we see an explosion in businesses leveraging specialty services firms.

“The objective of this research was to understand how companies can better take advantage of the transformation taking place, and identify what insights and processes they may need to effectively manage a more fluid workforce. Our hope is to elevate the conversation surrounding what many refer to as the gig economy, and highlight the significant economic opportunity in leveraging contractors, freelancers, and sub-providers.”

Trend One: On-Demand Workers: A Competitive Advantage
Business landscapes are changing at an unprecedented rate, and the accelerated pace of work has made rapid adaptability crucial for success. Traditionally, enterprises have heavily valued in-house resources, but those structures no longer function as effectively. Companies need to evolve, expand, and change direction faster than they can hire and train, or implement new processes. As a result, they’ve turned to third-party contractors for on-demand support.

According to the research found in “The White Collar Gig Economy”, 61 percent of business leaders consider agility critical to success, and 79 percent consider the use of contractors to be a competitive advantage. All of these also intend to increase their utilization of contractors over the next year. This will allow them to scale at will, accessing a broader pool of talent and workers with more specialized skills, without heavy financial or time investments.

Trend Two: Expert-Level Workers in Demand
Demand for contractors is not limited to low-level positions. 47 percent of executives are seeking temporary hires for management, senior executive, and even c-suite roles. The two qualities leaders value most in potential candidates are specialized degrees (35 percent) and a decade or more of experience (29 percent). These highly skilled upper-level workers add immediate value in strategic areas, without requiring lengthy onboarding. The most heavily demanded specialty is IT expertise.

Trend Three: Employers Grappling with a Changing Workforce
Business strategy has outpaced business structure, and companies frequently engage contractors without a clear system for managing them. Business leaders are tasked with overseeing a disparate and rapidly changing workforce, coordinating strategy, and ensuring consistent performance. This requires insight and control, and articulated policies to stabilize work. However, 69 percent of participants in the study considered their current processes for managing contractors inadequate, and 34 percent had no relevant policies at all.

Trend Four: Executives Want In
Employees also stand to benefit from a contract structure, gaining both lifestyle benefits such as schedule flexibility and professional benefits like exposure to a wide array of job experiences. These advantages have prompted high interest in temporary roles: 63 percent of study participants stated that they would leave their current full time position for consistent contract work.

The primary motivation that business leaders listed for maintaining a full-time job was a sense of security (62 percent), while only 23 percent cited benefits and only 10 percent said salary. 56 percent of executives had already contracted in the past–a number that is likely to increase in the coming years.

This study, which was sponsored by Mavenlink and led by independent market research firm ResearchNow, conducted interviews with 300 professionals from different organizations with titles of director or above. Participants worked for companies ranging in size from 10-249 employees (26 percent) to over 10,000 employees (19 percent). Interviews were conducted in the United States in July 2017.

To download the full report, visit

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