Sixty Percent Of Companies Expect Use Of Contract Labor

Survey from The Economist Intelligence Unit commissioned by North Highland on gig economy finds sizable, semi-permanent workforce is becoming the norm

ATLANTA, Ga. - Feb. 19, 2019 – Company decision makers indicate they are increasing their reliance on gig workers to some extent, with more than 60 percent expecting the use of contract labor to grow over the next five years. This is according to a new survey on sourcing and managing talent in a gig economy from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), commissioned by North Highland. Organizations site the top motivations for temporary workers as cost savings, agility and project-specific needs.

The EIU polled executives at 210 companies in the U.S. and U.K. with 2,000 or more employees. It found that gig help makes up 20 percent or more of the workforce at nearly 60 percent of organizations surveyed.

Jeff McMahon, managing director at North Highland, noted that, “Market disruption requires new ways of thinking about your workforce, and gig talent pools offer greater flexibility and cost savings. However, companies are challenged with how best to manage gig workers to fit with their processes, culture and management workload. As organizations navigate the art of onboarding and integrating temporary help, they are finding the benefits more than offset added risk and supervision.”

Sixty-three percent of company respondents strongly or somewhat agree that their organizations cannot meet strategic objectives without gig workers. Areas that utilize temporary help most frequently include logistics and delivery (50 percent), manufacturing operations/production roles (45 percent), customer experience/engagement (39 percent) and information technology (39 percent). The most common model for integrating gig workers is to assemble them into teams managed by a full-time employee.

The choice to use an OnDemand workforce flows from mounting business challenges. Respondents indicate they are under pressure to increase workforce productivity (79 percent) and reduce labor expenses (67 percent). Moreover, workforce flexibility is increasingly important with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of those surveyed undergoing some type of transformation and two-thirds being forced to adapt to a more volatile business environment.

The advantages that an on-demand workforce brings, combined with progress in recruiting, onboarding and integrating temporary help, ensure that the gig workforce is here to stay. Only one percent of respondents reported having no formal workforce augmentation strategy.

To successfully incorporate gig workers, it’s critical to factor in workers’ skills for particular roles, the company culture and a thoughtful onboarding strategy.

For more information about the survey and to view the full results, visit

About the Study

On behalf of North Highland, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) undertook a study of 210 U.S. and U.K. organizations with at least 2,000 employees. The survey explores sourcing talent in a gig economy and was fielded November – December 2018.