While employers see the benefitsof gig workforce, managing a contingent workforce is morecomplex, and compliance and regulatory requirements make manyhesitant to jump in. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Employees these days want flexibility. In fact, if they don't get it,they're likely to look elsewhere for work.

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So finds the 2018 Emerging Workforce study from SpherionStaffing Services, which finds that not only has the percentage ofcontingent workers risen substantially just inthe past year—from 15 percent in 2017 to 29 percent this year—butthe percentage of workers who say they'll only work for a companythat “offers agile employment opportunities” is a substantial 41percent.

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And don't think they're going to sit around waiting for you tochange things up; 23 percent say they're likely to look for a new job in the next three months,and 33 percent say they're likely to do so in the next 12months.

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Related: Bad bosses, PTO and other reasons employees quittheir jobs

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“In the current job market, with the unemployment rate thelowest the U.S. has seen in nearly two decades, finding the rightmix of talent—and then retaining that talent—is crucial for acompany,” says Sandy Mazur, Spherion division president. “Whatemployees are looking for and what employers need from theiremployees continue to evolve in the age of increased digitizationand cultural and generational shifts.”

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That means companies need to stay on their toes. While they already see manyof the advantages of a contingent workforce, such as staying nimbleduring economic ups and downs (85 percent), the ability to protecttheir full-time workforce (79 percent) and a higher-qualityworkforce (72 percent), they also view its challenges withdistaste. After all, managing a contingent workforce is morecomplex, say 44 percent of companies, while 51 percent find ittough to stay within compliance and regulatory requirements whiletrying to engage and integrate contingent workers.

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In addition, there are some serious disconnects between employerand worker. Millennials in particular are on the lookoutfor new jobs, with 48 percent saying they'll likely look for a newjob in the next three months and 56 percent in the next 12 months.The reasons? No matter their generation, workers are unhappy withcurrent salaries, growth opportunities and office culture. Overall,workers don't feel that their employers are putting in the effortto retain them, with 20 percent saying their employers are makingless effort.

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In fact, 40 percent of employees are unhappy with their currentsalary, while 83 percent believe that today's market should bringthem higher pay. But 61 percent of employers think their employeesare happy with their current salaries—and 68 percent say they knowthey have to increase wages to stay competitive, but claim they'refinancially unable to do so at present.

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Employees are looking beyond salary, too, with 86 percentconsidering the experience they have during the hiring process; 85percent evaluate the number of programs/benefits a company offersto help maintain work-life balance and 78 percent consider theconnection with a company's culture and values. Just 45 percent saythat they're very or extremely satisfied with their ability tomaintain life/work balance.

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Diversity and equality also play a role, with just 49 percent ofcompanies and 45 percent of employees describing their workforce asextremely or very diverse. When it comes to equal pay, 63 percentof male employees say they believe employees at their company earnequal pay for a job, regardless of gender, but just 49 percent offemale employees agree.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.