Fifty years ago, the workplace looked like a different place. Smoking was common in the office, and every manager above a certain level had their own secretary. Ten years ago, the workplace evolved again. Flexible working hours and working from home became more-popular options as the internet and smartphones allowed employees to always have what they needed to do their job remotely, rather than in the office.

Fast-forward to today, and another seismic shift is about to take place. Recent research commissioned by Freelancers Union and Upwork suggests that contract work may be the norm in most offices. There are already 57.3 million freelancers in the workforce, with nearly 30 million more expected to join their ranks within the next ten years.

As a result, the companies that use SAP technology are going to face some strategic decisions as new generations of employees enter the workforce. The common model for hiring has been to bring on full-time staff that you can teach the ways of your company, groom to grow into longtime roles, and eventually cast as experts within your business. Yet the numbers are saying that these expectations might not hold true in today’s working world.

Emerging Trends in Staffing

Here are a few truths about today’s workforce that might change the way you’re thinking about how you staff those who run your SAP technology.

  1. Contract work is on the rise. Tomorrow’s workforce will have more contract or freelance workers than full-time employees. In fact, the Upwork research suggests that this will be a reality by 2027. It’s no longer realistic to expect to hire a staff full of employees who will be with the company 10+ years.

  2. The key ingredients of workplace satisfaction are evolving. Today’s workforce places the most value on different benefits than what employers have seen in the past. While the goal of accepting a job previously might have been stability and structure, today’s employee is interested in different perks within their job. More workers today are willing to trade off the challenges of income predictability and employer-paid benefits for the freedom and flexibility contract work provides. This change likely also applies to those who are salaried employees on a staff—freedom and flexibility within their jobs will still be key to job satisfaction.

  3. Staffing and training strategies need to adapt. One exchange between executives recently detailed the need for jobs to be easily teachable to reflect high turnover. To minimize disruption, more jobs must be ready to hand over to an intern or contract worker when someone departs. This means that staff work may be more commoditized, and specialization may be most often delivered through short-term contract work. When it comes to SAP technology, this is not necessarily a new idea, but one that must still be embraced to ensure the best workers are in the roles you need.

  4. Freelancers may be the workers with the best skills. In fact, freelancers are nearly twice as likely to re-skill as other workers, meaning that they may not only have the best skills, but also more skills. Those who are looking to hire full-time employees may be forcing themselves into employing workers who have a limited skillset compared with contractors in the same industry. Hiring companies should be open to looking at both full-time and contract workers when filling each role. If a contract worker has the best skills, the right price or workplace flexibility may entice them to accept rolling renewals of their contract, or even eventually to come on board in a permanent role.

What Does This Mean for Companies Looking to Hire SAP Talent?

In short, embrace this gig economy. This may mean changing the scope and makeup of your staff to allow for these contractors to come in and execute their specialized tasks, while letting full-time employees fill in the gaps. The reality of this evolving workforce is that most employees may be with a company for five years or less. It will be essential for hiring companies to structure jobs within their departments to get maximum effectiveness out of this shortened time frame before having to rehire for a similar position. It also could mean more overlap or cross-functionality across full-time jobs, so the departure of one employee could easily be filled by sliding another worker in a similar position into the role.

Ultimately, when you are looking for someone to come on and fill a gap for SAP-related work within your own staff, the best due diligence would be to consider contract workers alongside full-time employees. You may get a better worker while making a lower financial commitment. With the flexibility contract workers provide and receive, what do you have to lose by considering this option for your SAP talent?

In the evolving workforce, you may not have a choice but to make contract talent a viable option for your company. Changing your own mindset of what your staff could look like will make sure you are best equipped to handle the challenges tomorrow’s technology and business-needs will throw your way. ASUG is here to help you along the journey because no matter what, we know you have a job to do. Check out ASUG Talent Hub and see if it can help you on the path toward evolving your own workforce.