The consulting giant Accenture has released a study showing the use of contingent workers and other external talent is growing in importance for major corporations.
Accenture uses the term "extended workforce" to describe the many types of workers companies use. This definition includes internal employees, vendors, consultants, alliance partners as well as contingent workers who work for the organization on a project basis.
Accenture's research shows access to skills and increased flexibility - and not cost - are the primary drivers of the increasing use of the extended workforce. Key quote:
Only 39 percent of executives cited cost savings as a primary benefit of an extended workforce strategy. Far more important is access to skills: About two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents cited the ability to flexibly adjust to changing demands for skills as a key benefit of using project-based workers.
Accenture also found the use of the extended workforce increases business agility. Key quote:
Organizational agility is another key benefit. By bringing in people only when they’re needed, organizations can adjust more rapidly to changing markets, scaling staff up and down to meet shifts in demand; companies also can quickly change their mix of skills, which can help them be more responsive in the face of changing competitive pressures.
Accenture's findings echo our research on business flexibility and agility being key drivers of the growing use of contingent workers.
We're not saying cost cutting isn't a reason firms use contingent workers - it clearly is. What we are saying is despite what is often reported in the press, issues other than cost are often more important.
Organizational flexibility and agility are going to become even more important in the coming years. This is one of the key reasons we are forecasting that the contingent workforce will continue to grow.