According to technology firm Mavenlink’s 2012 infographic, The New Independent Workforce, the contingent workforce–comprised of self-employed individuals, independent service firms, solopreneurs and temporary workers—has grown by an estimated 4.3 million workers since 1995. By 2020, 40 percent of American workers, or nearly 65 million people, will be contingent, and shortly thereafter that percentage is expected to rise to 50 percent.
Why this explosive growth? The biggest reason is that companies in all industries–especially in technology, management consulting, marketing, education and journalism–are on board. Mavenlink reports that 90 percent of firms have used contracted talent, and a recent Economist Intelligence Unit study found that 61 percent of senior executives anticipate a growing proportion of functions to be outsourced to contingent workers.
The key questions are: What do contingent workers have to do with organizational culture, and how can managers help them assimilate so that they're positive additions to the team? For these answers and more, head over to my Culture Beat column at the AMEX Open Forum.