HR People + Strategy and Josh Bersin Partner on New Research: The Alternative Workforce

Guidelines Offered for Management, Development, and Engagement of Independent Workers

June 11, 2019

​HR People + Strategy (HRPS), SHRM’s network for executives and thought leaders in human resources, and global independent analyst Josh Bersin, announced the availability of the research report, The Alternative Workforce:  Not So Alternative Anymore.  The report, based on responses from HR leaders and professionals across all industry segments, reveals how organizations are managing the growing number of independent workers around the world and offers recommendations for improving management practices.  

The research initiative was inspired by the growth of the alternative workforce – comprised of freelancers, contractors, and other independent workers around the world.  According to Morgan Stanley research, freelancers may make up as much as 50 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2027.  In Europe, freelancers make up the fastest growing segment of the employment market, with numbers doubling between 2000 and 2014.  

“Despite the growth in the gig economy and the freelance workforce, company leaders haven’t paid much attention to the effective management and development of this important talent pool,” said Josh Bersin, who also serves as principal research partner for HRPS.  “For employers, the alternative workforce represents an enormous opportunity to access skills, passion, and expertise in more flexible, on-demand business models. Learning how to tap into this workforce is new, and as our research points out, companies are just starting to view alternative workers as a strategic component of their overall workforce.”

Only 40 percent of survey respondents said their companies shared performance feedback with freelance or contract workers, and only 27 percent said their companies evaluated the engagement of such workers.  The research also uncovered significant differences in how high-performing and low-performing companies viewed alternative workforces.  Seventy-three percent of high-performing companies take a “big picture” view of their entire workforces and understand what percentage of the workforce is comprised by alternative workers, how and where they are sourced, and what they are paid, in comparison to full-time employees.  

“Talent is now the key differentiator for success.   To successfully adapt to the realities of the future workforce, company leaders must understand the trends associated with the alternative workforce, as well as develop a more holistic view for sourcing talent and retaining different types of employees,” said Lisa Connell, executive director of HRPS.

The research report examines how companies implement different practices with respect to their independent workers. These are divided into three categories:  integration and alignment;
talent acquisition and onboarding; and management, growth and development. 

The report concludes with guidelines to move organizations to a more holistic workforce view. 

To read the full research report visit,

About HRPS
HR People + Strategy is the premier network of executives and thought leaders in the field of human resources. As SHRM’s Executive Network, HR People + Strategy provides members access to forward-thinking exchanges, cutting edge research and publications and executive-level networking opportunities. For more information, visit

About the Society for Human Resource Management
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today’s evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM

About Josh Bersin
Josh Bersin is an analyst, author, educator, and thought leader focusing on the global talent market and the challenges and trends impacting business workforces around the world. He studies the world of work, HR and leadership practices, and the broad talent technology market. He is often cited as one of the leading HR and workplace industry analysts in the world.

He founded Bersin & Associates in 2001 to provide research and advisory services focused on corporate learning. Over the next ten years, he expanded the company’s coverage to encompass HR, talent management, talent acquisition, and leadership and became a recognized expert in the talent market.  He sold the company to Deloitte in 2012, when it became known as Bersin™ by Deloitte.   He currently sits on the board of UC Berkeley Executive Education.

Most recently, Bersin launched the Josh Bersin Academy, the world's first global development academy for HR and talent professionals at all levels and across all industries.  


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