The freelance landscape has experienced near-constant change for the past few years, and it shows no sign of slowing down, and the internet is full of freelance stats that show this. While these changes present a lot of opportunity — for both external workers and the companies that work with them — it can make it challenging to constantly adjust your business strategy around them.
We rounded up 7 freelancer stats to talk about how they can help you see better success from your external workforce.
Freelance trends and what they mean for you
1. High-growth companies are adjusting to accommodate external talent
47% of high-growth organizations adjust talent strategies to attract freelancers and other non-traditional talent. These companies understand that the changes in the way we work are not slowing down. And they’re actively building strategies around attracting and working more effectively with external talent.
You need to put a lot of thought into how you will attract external talent and provide them with an excellent experience. Your strategy around working with external talent can’t end with you reading about freelance trends. You put a lot of thought into the experience your full-time employees have, all you need to do is put that same effort into providing your external workers with a great experience and take their unique needs into account. The better the experience you provide them, the better talent you’ll have access to as more and more workers switch to freelancing.
2. Half of your freelancers are caregivers
48% of freelancers say they are caregivers. Whether they’re caring for their children, an elderly parent, or another sort of dependant, this means they’re occasionally going to need the flexibility to give that care. They will prioritize working for companies that give them this flexibility — without making them feel guilty for it — and quickly leave the companies that do not. 48% of your workforce is a pretty large percentage. Make sure you’re giving your external workers the flexibility they need to continue working with your best external talent.
3. Payments are a huge issue for freelancers
58% of freelancers report having worked with clients that fail to pay. On top of that, only 42% of freelancers report regularly getting paid on time. This is one of the biggest frustrations for freelancers, and freelance stats like this pop-up time and time again.
If you make quick and on-time freelancer payments a priority within your business, this gives you a big competitive advantage for winning external talent. Because they have payment issues with so many of their other clients, this is an easy way to set yourself ahead of other potential employers. And it means they’re very likely to accept future projects with your company the next time you need their specific skill-set.
4. The time for better systems and processes in place is now
There are around 70.4 million freelancers in the US as of 2022. The number of freelancers in the USA is estimated to reach 79.6 million by 2025 and 90.1 million by 2028. You’re probably already working with a lot of freelancers, but many companies today feel that they have more time before they need serious systems and processes in place to manage them.
This is where many are getting it wrong. This creates a terrible experience for your external workers and internal teams — finance, legal, HR, and hiring managers — working with them. And as the number of freelancers working with your company scales, the frustration for everyone involved will grow just as quickly, making implementing better systems and tools even more challenging. You need systems and processes in place that were designed to manage an external workforce now, instead of waiting and watching while the problem continues to grow.
5. The best talent is increasingly external
64% say that professionals who are at the top in their industry are increasingly choosing to work independently. Freelancing is no longer reserved for more entry-level roles like copywriters or designers. Today, the best talent is increasingly deciding to go freelance, and this freelance trend is not going to slow down. If your mindset towards hiring certain high-level or strategic roles is that they need to be full-time employees, you’re limiting yourself in a way that will hurt your business.
6. Age will increasingly become a factor in sourcing talent
53% of Gen Z and 40% of Millenials have freelanced in the past year. This is compared with only 29% of Baby Boomers and 31% of Gen X workers. Putting strategies in place for how you find and manage talent as new generations make up more and more of your talent pool is not a new challenge for businesses. But with the younger generations skewing more heavily towards freelance, it will be even more important to have plans in place for how you will find and engage with Gen Z and Millenials when it comes to your external talent.
7. The freelance revolution is here to stay
51% of freelancers say no amount of money could convince them to take a traditional job. Once people get a taste of a new kind of freedom, it’s very difficult to convince them to go back to living without it. So if you’re banking on workers swinging back to the days of full-time gigs, you’re probably in for a lot of disappointment.
Using these stats to improve your business
The biggest takeaway from these freelance stats is that the better experience you can provide your external talent, the better positioned for success your business will be. As top talent continues to go freelance and the workforce is increasingly made up of freelancers, you need active strategies in place to create a great experience for your external workforce and manage them effectively.
Taking their needs into account by ensuring they are paid on time, giving them the flexibility to balance work with their personal lives — like taking care of their children or dependents —, and making it easier for them to focus on the work they were hired to goes a long way in terms of keeping the best talent interested in working for your business.
Click here to learn more about why your current tech stack doesn’t cut it for managing an external workforce, and why you can't afford to wait to implement an external workforce management system.