3. Expect more commitment to full-time employees.
The discipline that gets put around part-time and contract employees will make each full-time hire all the more important to companies, Hills says.
"Full-time employees are the ones more likely to focus on the strategic elements of the business," she says. "They are the ones you want to have there for the long haul -- you want them to commit to you, and you want to commit to them."
Full-time employees need not worry that contract employees will somehow "edge them out" in the marketplace, Hills says, because "the shift in the workforce is evolutionary, not revolutionary. If you want to find an organization that needs you, that wants you for the long haul, there are even more companies desperate to find quality, long-term players."
Assuming the economy continues to improve, companies will not slack in hiring full-time employees, says David Silverstein, CEO of BMGI
, an operational strategy consulting firm.
"Well-run companies understand the need to develop a stable workforce over time," Silverstein says. "Companies need to create a positive culture to thrive. People who come and go on a short-term basis don't contribute to culture."
4. Expect more jobs to be available overall.
"There is no doubt that the labor market is getting better; and that holds true across almost all segments -- full time, part time, etc.," says Brian Kropp, managing director at member-based advisory company CEB
While there is still uncertainty in the labor market, job-seekers should be more confident that there are more jobs available today compared with any point in the past several years, Kropp says.
"Based on the survey work that we have been doing at CEB, we actually find that the perception of job opportunities in the U.S. has actually been slowly but steadily improving across 2013 and is now about 10% higher compared to this time last year," he says. "With that said, the perceptions of employees about the job opportunities that they see in the labor market has still not recovered to the levels seen before the start of the recession in 2008."
5. Employees will have -- and will leverage -- more freedom.
"Some employees actually prefer to have a freelance or part-time relationship with their employer. One of the implications of the Affordable Care Act is that employees are, relatively speaking, less tied to their employer for health care benefits," Kropp says. "Because of this separation, what we expect to see is more employees move to a freelance relationship with their employer."
As the economy gains momentum, more professionals who have been biding their time will start to look for new opportunities, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half
Along those same lines, consulting work may become a more attractive option for employees who may have previously been hesitant to make a move toward independent contractor positions.
"Highly skilled professionals at all levels of experience, especially those who are advanced in their careers, may be looking for ways to exert more control of their schedules. Rather than retire, these workers may choose a consulting route," McDonald says.
No matter the job you're seeking, there will be more fluidity in the job market in the coming year, McDonald says.
"According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary Report
, employees are seeing more opportunities to voluntarily leave their jobs to take positions elsewhere -- with 2.39 million workers leaving their jobs in October -- the highest the quits rate has been in five years," McDonald says.