Businessolver Blog

Record-Breaking Economic Expansion Calls for Strategic Use of Alternative Workers

Record-Breaking Economic Expansion Calls for Strategic Use of Alternative Workers
Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 by Sherri Bockhorst

Yesterday, the current U.S. economic expansion broke the record for the most months without a recession since the country started keeping track before the Civil War.


At 121 months, it’s officially the longest period of growth in U.S. history.

As the economy continues to expand, employers find themselves locked in a war for talent unlike any other period in history. In May, the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, the lowest rate in nearly 50 years.

Now, more than ever, benefits matter. In fact, 73% of employees believe the right benefits increase loyalty to their employer, while 83% say they would take a pay cut for better benefits.

That’s all very interesting, but those statistics apply to Americans who are “employees.” Full-time, and an increasing number of part-time, employees are looking for organizations that offer the best benefits package on top of their wages.

But what about the so-called “gig” or “alternative” workers? What role do benefits play in attracting and retaining those with whom you don’t have a direct employer-employee relationship? This is one of the questions we’ll address at our upcoming webinar, Beyond the Paycheck: Get full-time loyalty from part-time and gig workers.

I’m happy to say that I’ll be one of the panelists at this event — my second webinar since joining Businessolver — where we’ll unpack the complexities of the evolving gig economy and the changing landscape of part-time work. Joining me will be Seyfarth Shaw Partner Ben Conley, who will explain how regulatory agencies define “employee” as opposed to these “alternative workers.” Here’s a taste:

So, who exactly are “alternative” workers?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ glossary groups these into four types of service arrangements: 1) independent contractors, 2) on-call workers, 3) temporary help agency workers, and 4) workers provided by contract firms.

Alternative workers differ from full- and part-time employees in that they do not have a direct employer-employee relationship with the entity to which they provide services. Most are 1099 form recipients. This means employers will be unable to provide healthcare coverage directly or indirectly through the new “individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements,” which Ben will also introduce.

Nevertheless, alternative workers are becoming an increasingly important part of the American workforce. And they, like their part-time counterparts, value flexibility and freedom above all else. But, they also want protections to address the uncertainty that comes with these types of work arrangements.

What should employers know about using alternative workers?

That’s where our other panelist comes in. Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital Managing Director Jill Korsh will be on hand to present some interesting findings from Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report. Here are just a few of the insights from the report:

  • The alternative workforce is mainstream. For many years, alternative workers were considered supplementary to full-time jobs. Today, this segment of the workforce has gone mainstream, and employers need to manage it strategically. By 2020, the number of self-employed workers in the United States is projected to triple to 42 million people. And many people are alternative workers part-time: 64 percent of full-time workers want to do “side hustles” to make extra money.
  • The alternative workforce is broad. Once considered a workforce for information technology (IT) or other technical or repeatable tasks, today alternative workers perform a broad range of activities. In this year’s Global Human Capital Trends study, 33% of respondents reported extensively using alternative arrangements for IT, 25% for operations, 15% for marketing and 15% for research and development.
  • Organizations take a transactional, not strategic, approach. Among surveyed employers, 90% say they already use alternative workers, but only 39% think they are “doing well” or “best in class” at using alternative workers. And, 49% of employers said they do not have recruitment strategies in place for addressing talent management for these workers. Only 8% of respondents said that they had established processes to manage and develop alternative workforce sources, while 54% of respondents said they either managed alternative workers inconsistently or had few or no processes for managing them at all.

For more insights like these, advice for navigating the evolving regulatory environment and tips for connecting alternative and part-time workers to hassle-free individual coverage options, check out our on-demand webinar below.