Gen-X And Baby Boomers: Long-Term Experience Is Just What These Gigs Require


Date: May 30, 2019


Author:  Sheila Callaham

Love it or hate it, the gig economy is changing the way people work around the world. According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, contract, freelance and gig employment or alternative work have become mainstream. Essentially, any worker engaging in independent work in any capacity—online or offline, with regular or occasional participation, and for primary or supplemental earnings, is a gig worker. Not surprisingly, talent networks offering alternative working opportunities are experiencing growing memberships and increasing revenue.

While the perception of the gig economy may skew toward delivery or ride sharing, these lower-skilled, lower-paid opportunities account for only half of alternative work. There are plenty of platforms seeking highly skilled, freelance talent with at least 20 years or more of experience. Companies like Your Encore, Tatum, Cerius Enterprises and Business Talent Group specialize in executive-level expertise for interim needs or consulting services.

Patina Solutions, a company nearing its tenth year, has a talent database of more than 24,000 professionals, most of whom are older than 50 and have 20 years or more of experience. Offering executives on demand, Patina Solutions’ revenue has grown to $32 million annually. Servicing corporate clients in 13 metro areas including New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Tampa, Patina Solutions matches talent to fill short-term, interim and long-term talent needs across multiple functions and industries.

Deb Seeger, senior vice president and co-founder of Patina Solutions.

“Interim leadership is a spot-on career option for professionals who want to use all the experience, skills, knowledge and abilities they’ve built throughout their careers to help companies be faster, better and smarter, while having more flexibility to do the things they want to do, when they want to do them,” said Deb Seeger, senior vice president and cofounder of Patina Solutions. “Every day I work with seasoned and accomplished professionals who have years of experience in their field and want to work differently at this stage of their career. That’s what makes a great gig.”

A unique spin to the Patina model is a member-only community referred to as Patina Nation where members have access to resources often unavailable to independent workers. Mike Harris, cofounder and CEO, explained that creating Patina Nation was a strategy to engage the vast talent pool.

“We have more talent than we could ever possibly need, and creating a resource-rich community seemed like a great way to add value.” Patina Nation offers both free and paid benefits including group health insurance, 401(k), communities of practice and professional development. Many of the offerings are a direct result of membership surveys. The top request, according to Harris, was the desire to feel more connected with others, given how isolated solopreneurship can feel.

Opportunities at Patina are typically onsite and often involve back filling high-level roles unexpectedly vacated. Other times, it’s to manage a newly created project because the organization doesn’t have the resource to staff it. “We continue to see good, strong demand from this business model. After all, businesses have to keep the trains running on time, and they need highly qualified people to do it,” said Harris. “We act more like a professional services and consulting firm yet members, who can join the community for free, are still independent and do not have to be exclusive to us.”

Mike Harris, co-founder and CEO of Patina Solutions.

Corporate executives worldwide recognize that the rise of alternative working arrangements will have a significant impact on their workforce according to a 2018 survey of 6,500 executives, conducted by BCG in partnership with Harvard Business School’s Managing the Future of Work Initiative. Almost 40% said they expected to see an increase in the use of freelance talent in the next five years and 50% agreed that the adoption of gig platforms would be a significant or highly significant trend.

These results are consistent with research published in May 2018, by SAP Fieldglass, a provider of cloud-based external workforce management solutions, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics. Of the 800 global senior executives surveyed, 38% were using on-demand, online marketplaces to source freelance talent. Moreover, the study predicted that companies’ adoption of these platforms would nearly double in three years.

For those who doubted, it’s becoming clear that gig is here to stay.

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