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The Contingent Staffing Surge: Why On-Demand Talent is in Demand

The Contingent Staffing Surge of 2023

We’re living in a world of ‘new.’ A new job market. New talent needs. New paths to performance. New beginnings. The future of work is always changing, and brands everywhere must adapt.

Economic shifts have left businesses with tighter budgets and fewer resources to do the same amount of work. Recent job reports exceeded expectations, but the tech industry has seen over 50,000 layoffs in 2024 alone. Google. Amazon. Microsoft. Sadly, the list goes on.

Marketing, creative and digital teams everywhere are rethinking priorities, reallocating funds, and restructuring with an emphasis on cost savings. In these uncertain times, organizational advisors recommend contingent staffing or augmenting full-time teams with on-demand talent. Contingent workforces include freelancers, independent contractors, temporary workers or anyone who is not on your payroll but serves your company.

Dubbed “quiet hiring” by the media, contingent talent strategies are already surging in popularity. Across industries, leaders are leveraging contract professionals to:


1. Fill critical talent gaps.

Recent restructures and layoffs have left several companies with unexpected skill set gaps and subsequent job openings. Staffing partners have access to extensive networks of pre-qualified talent. These on-demand professionals can quickly fill in for full-time team members, complement in-house capabilities, and take on new projects as needed.

2. Achieve workforce agility.

The talent you hire today may not be the talent you need tomorrow. Business priorities and market conditions change as quickly as new projects arise. Contingent staffing empowers you to scale your teams up and down with ease so that you can adapt your workforce to your growing needs and the ever-evolving times.

3. Boost cost savings.

From hire to retire, salaried employees are costly investments. The average price of onboarding alone is $4,000 per team member. Other company costs associated with full-time staff include fixed salaries, payroll taxes, and employee-sponsored benefits. Done right, contingent staffing abridges or eliminates all those direct hire expenses, saving you 30% or more.

4. Accelerate your success.

In a world of high-priority projects, tight deadlines, and talent needs of all kinds, contingent staffing partners can help you speed up your onboarding process, reduce your time-to-hire, and get top-tier work done faster. In addition, contract talent often require less hands-on HR support. Contract workers are motivated to complete projects as they’re often paid by the project, and they typically offer quick turnarounds without overextending your limited internal resources.

5. Bring in fresh, outside perspectives.

As full-time team members are fully immersed in day-to-day operations, they are sometimes too close to internal problems to uncover effective solutions. Looking from the outside in, independent contractors can bring a fresh set of eyes to every company and help put a swift end to long-time challenges.

6. Try before you buy.

More than ever, you need to be more strategic about who, when, and where to hire. The cost of a bad hire is about 30% of the individual’s first-year earnings. Contract-to-hire strategies empower companies to test new people before transitioning them onto full-time teams. This cost-effective approach enables brands to ensure that new hires are good hires.


Studies show that contingent labor already makes up almost 30% of the average workforce, and over 65% of companies plan to increase their use of contract talent. The freelance revolution has been steadily building for some time. Recent headlines only amplify the explosion of an already booming gig economy. As 2024 goes into full swing, evaluate if contingent talent solutions are right for your organization, consider your staffing partner options, and adapt your workforce strategies to our new reality.


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Onward Search specializes in staffing and talent solutions at the intersection of creative and technology. Partner with us to find skilled talent, build scalable teams, or engage strategic advisors.


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