The Future Worker Redefined—From Employee to ‘Contributor’

The word “contributor,” not “employee,” will be a better representation of a worker in 2025, according to 47% of companies and 57% of workers.  The findings come from a study from Randstad US, an HR services and staffing company in the United States.

Workplace 2025 took an in-depth look at the views of more than 1,500 HR and C-suite executives and 3,100 workers across the U.S., and found the majority of respondents said they prefer the term “contributor” – defined as “any human resource supplying effort toward an organization’s business objectives and goals.”

The survey uncovered significant changes in the way workers today view job security, employer commitment, and career growth, and indicates they are embracing agile alternatives in addition to the traditional, full-time permanent positions.

“Our study clearly projects a future workforce comprised of a wide-range of talent arrangements, from permanent, contingent, contractor, freelance, consultant, full-time, part-time, temp and more,” said Jim Link, chief human resources officer at Randstad North America—in a press release. “A workforce composed entirely of traditional workers is becoming a thing of the past. Employer-employee relationships are changing and today’s workers desire agile positions made possible by advancements in technology and globalization. Considering these changes, it is time to re-think the term employee.”

Job Security in Agile Arrangements

The study shows nearly four in 10 workers (38%) feel more secure in their jobs working in an agile capacity. As Millennial and Gen Z workplace contributors begin to take over, they are bringing with them an even greater sense of autonomy and flexibility. According to the Randstad Workplace 2025 study, Gen Z and Millennials report feeling the most secure as an agile worker compared to other generations.

Modern Pathways to Career Growth

The age-old belief of career progression is a linear climb up the corporate ladder has evolved and many workers realize what longtime contingent workers have known for years. The modern work landscape is best prepared for by learning new skills, experiencing a range of work environments, and building a diverse career portfolio. A growing number of people, particularly younger cohorts, are choosing job rotation and experiences over promotions.

The ability to increase their careers and earnings potential is a fundamental reason for this changing mindset. In fact, the majority of Gen Z (78%) and Millennials (71%) believe they have increased both components by periodically changing jobs.

Commitment Remains Permanent, even if the Worker Isn’t

The Workplace 2025 study also found among today’s workers, commitment to an employer isn’t defined by how a person is engaged. In fact, the majority of workers (76%) say they’re just as committed to an employer when they are functioning as agile contributors. Eight-five percent agree it doesn’t matter how workers are employed, as long as they are providing the skills and results the company requires.

“More workers have realized they must be ready to manage the changes of our rapidly transforming economy and labor market. A growing percentage of the workforce is choosing agile work to achieve it,” says Link. “The idea of a new term for employee will likely continue to be debated and considered. If there is one takeaway from our study’s findings, effectiveness and success of talent recruitment will most certainly align with a willingness to adapt to the agile worker. Flexibility in how, when and where contributors may work is a must-have today and in the future.”

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Author: HR Daily Advisor Editorial Staff