The 2023 workforce has evolved tremendously. The new generation of workers is shifting away from the traditional in-office work arrangement of the corporate world. People are now looking for a more time-flexible, location-independent setup to smoothly integrate work with their personal affairs.
On the other hand, businesses realize that hiring contingent workers is the new normal across many industries. In response to the workforce changes, many companies are opening their doors to people who want to work more flexibly without undergoing regular employment.
Not only do organizations benefit from a contingent workforce financially, but it also allows them to outsource individuals with specialized skills without requiring intensive training.
What is a Contingent Workforce?
A contingent workforce is a group of individuals hired on a contractual basis rather than as full-time employees. Contingent workers help companies handle fluctuations in demand, reduce operating and overhead costs, and manage business scalability.
They are typically paid on an hourly or project basis and are not entitled to the same benefits as permanent employees. The common classifications of a contingent workforce include:
- Temporary or contract workers
- Freelancers or independent contractors
- Seasonal workers
The Contingent Workforce is Here to Stay!
In today’s competitive landscape, a contingent workforce is what many organizations need to meet the growing demands of their business. In fact, MBO Partners’ August 2022 Contingent Labor Report revealed that contingent labor makes up 28% of the workforce for an average company.
About 7 out of 10 respondents expect a 13% increase in contingent labor over the next 18 months, while around 8 out of 10 expect a 33% contingent workforce growth in the next five years.
“The contingent workforce is here to stay,” said Preston Powell, CEO of Webserv. “Businesses need to adapt to the changes in the workplace setting to stay relevant and thrive.
This includes letting contingent workers take up space in the organization not because it’s the trend, but simply because they are proven to offer massive help in easing business processes and saving operational costs,” Powell stressed.
Best Practices to Manage a Contingent Workforce
While contingent workers don’t get the same perks and benefits as full-time employees, you shouldn’t treat them as a less important part of your organization. They play a vital role in the success of your business, so make sure to attend to their needs as necessary. Here are some of the best practices you can follow to successfully manage a contingent workforce:
- Foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.
The drive for workplace diversity and inclusion has gained traction these past few years. While this initiative aims to make regular employees feel involved and respected, the same can be said for contingent workers.
A diverse and inclusive contingent workforce brings together a range of skills, perspectives, and experiences. This leads to more innovative ideas, better decision-making, and improved problem-solving. It also creates a less stressful work environment where everyone feels valued, increasing job satisfaction and boosting retention rates.
“Nurturing a culture of diversity and inclusion is crucial for compliance with legal requirements and ethical standards,” said Milo Cruz, Chief Marketing Officer at Freelance Writing Jobs.
“A diverse and inclusive culture intends to eliminate harassment, discrimination, and other injustices against the contingent workforce. This, in turn, creates a positive reputation for your business. It allows you to form a solid connection even with workers even if they are not officially part of your company,” Cruz added.
- Stay involved, but do not micromanage.
One effective way to handle contingent workers is to trust their talents and refrain from micromanaging them. These people already have a set of skills they can use to accomplish their respective tasks, which is why you hire them in the first place.
Fred Kuffer, the Director of Insurance at BrokerLink, expressed, “If you micromanage contingent workers, that means you doubt your decision to partner with them. This will affect their morale and potentially hinder them from bringing out their best.”
“Instead of micromanaging contingent workers, show them your support by staying involved and attending to their needs. Provide them with reliable tools to successfully carry out their tasks. Ask them if they need something that can optimize the quality of their work. This way, you are helping them build their confidence while nurturing a healthy relationship with each other,” Kuffer added.
Communicating regularly with contingent workers is vital to align your goals and avoid misunderstandings. However, this doesn’t mean you must supervise every action they take because it will annoy them in the long run.
- Offer growth opportunities.
Career growth motivates contingent workers to perform their tasks at the optimum level. Yes, some of them are in it for money, but many are also seeking career stability and long-term projects to improve their quality of life. Just because contingent workers are not part of your traditional employee roster doesn’t mean you are under no obligation to help them progress professionally.
Take it from Jonathan Merry, co-founder & CEO of CryptoMonday, who provides specialized training for freelancers and contractors affiliated with their company to ensure that they have the right expertise to produce top-quality output.
“Blockchain technology is highly technical, so it’s essential to train contingent workers and equip them with more knowledge about the industry on top of what they already know. It’s also convenient for us to train contingent workers because we can use their newly-acquired skills to take on more tasks, which leads to career stability and longer partnership with our company,” Merry noted.
- Create a positive offboarding experience.
The completion of a contract doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship with contingent workers. Instead, use this as an opportunity to create a good impression and show them your appreciation for their contribution to your business.
Garrett Smith, Head of Local SEO at GMB Gorilla, suggested a simple yet effective offboarding idea that tugs at the heartstring of the departing contingent workers. “Offer a thoughtful and personalized gift like a company-branded item or a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
This gesture helps maintain a positive relationship with the worker, making it easier for you to reach out to them for future company projects,” Smith added.
Moreover, you can conduct exit interviews with the departing workers to gather feedback about their experiences working with you. This allows you to identify areas to improve how you manage the contingent workforce in the future.
You should know by now that contingent workers are a flexible asset to your organization. If you’re bombarded with heavy workloads, you can count on them to help ease your job. After doing their part, you can end the contract and ask for their service only if you need them again.
More importantly, always remember to give contingent workers the proper treatment they deserve. You can start by following the best practices discussed in this article, as these are the least you can do to thank these talents for helping you stay on budget while hitting your business objectives.
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