Over the Labor Day weekend, I read an article in Mediabistro which states that up to half of the workforce for Fortune 100 companies by 2020 could be freelance, contract, or temporary workers. As the Mediabistro article points out, gains in temporary hiring have historically preceded any upticks in full-time hiring. But in the current economy, full-time employment hasn't picked up any momentum. The topic got me to thinking more broadly about the type of skills and mixes of worker types that marketing and customer service organizations will need going forward and how companies are currently positioned to meet these requirements.One thing that seems clear from current employment and demographic trends is that a growing number of people are opting to become freelance or temporary workers by choice, by force, and as a result of various circumstances (e.g. Baby Boomers working from home or part-time to care for elderly parents). Millions of workers whose full-time jobs were eliminated over the past decade have simply stopped looking for full-time employment, frustrated over the lack of high-paying jobs and the responsiveness of would-be employers. While the U.S. unemployment rate continues to remain stagnant at 8.3 percent, the so-called "real" unemployment rate, which includes those people who are under-employed and those that have given up looking for full-time work, is closer to 15 percent.
These are all trends that marketing and customer service leaders should factor into their workforce planning. As companies strive to make contact centers more agile and responsive to meet the demands of the mobile/digital consumer, contact center leaders are increasingly relying on temporary, part-time, and at-home agents who offer the types of skills being sought by companies. This includes agents who are adept at interacting with customers via chat, email, voice, and social channels. Not to be overlooked, a growing number of companies are also hungry for at home agents who offer certain demographic attributes, including geographic location and backgrounds, which mesh with customer interests.
Marketers will also continue to increase their use of contract and freelance workers, especially as digital marketing efforts continue to expand. According to Econsultancy, demand for digital marketing freelancers has soared more than 100 percent between March 2011 and March 2012. As marketing leaders look to fill certain skillset needs for short-term projects or project phases (e.g. tablet user experience professionals), they'll increasingly rely on temporary or contract workers to meet their requirements.
How do you see the customer relationship workforce evolving?