Businesses in the present world are constantly competing with each other to get the top spot and reign their respective sectors. The global market is more interconnected and volatile than ever, hence posing a risk while companies try to be efficient at their work. There are several things that stop a business from achieving maximum efficiency including out-of-the-blue changes and skill shortage, which in turn directly impact the business sustainability and net profit.So, what could be a probable solution for this? How can businesses maximize their profits and overcome these seemingly incessant challenges? One approach for this is adopting a workforce model that allows both permanent and on-demand workers(or a contingent workforce) to work together. On-demand workforce can save a business from all additional and hidden costs, in addition to giving top-notch services at the same time.To clearly understand how beneficial a contingent workforce is, you need to study the data collected by the Oxford Economy’s survey on the workforce. The data has revealed that almost 83% of company executives directly or indirectly use contingent workforce to manage various tasks.In this ebook, we will walk through the essentials of contingent workforce and the myriad ways through which it can transform your business. But before we dive deeper into the topic, it is crucial to understand what contingent workforce really means.
What is a contingent workforce?
Contingent work roughly translates into contractual work wherein the employees are associated with a company on a project basis and have limited job security. It sounds a bit daunting, right?
Let’s try to understand it differently. A contingent workforce is a group of employees possessing certain skills that an organization hires for a specific period of time. For example, organizations hire content writers and pay them for every article they write rather than hiring them as full-time writers. This turns out to be more economical for companies as they only pay for what they receive. At present, organizations around the world have a unique number of full-time and contingent workers in various proportions. This maintains the heterogeneity of the workforce and instills healthy competition among the employees as well.
If you want to reap all the benefits of a contingent workforce, it is mandatory to know the key differences between a contingent worker and a full-time employee.
- Contingent workers are not eligible for benefits like bonuses, leaves, appraisals, and so on. Such conventional benefits are for permanent employees only.
- In contrast to the full-time employees, contingent workers aren’t on the organization’s payroll. What they are paid depends on the work they have delivered and the contract signed between the organization and their employer.
- On top of that, contingent workers aren’t obliged to follow legal obligations like a probation period, notice period, etc. Once they have completed their work, they are free to move to another company for work.
- There is no mandatory training requirement for contingent workers because they learn all the in-demand skills beforehand, thereby saving a lot of time. This is an added advantage that saves thousands of dollars for companies.
- Contingent workers make up to 30% of the US workforce alone and the number is gradually increasing each year.
Types of contingent workers
Contingent workers can be categorized roughly into 5 types and each one has its uniqueness and added benefits. Let’s understand them one by one.
As the word suggests, a contractor could be an individual or a group that a company hires for a fixed time period or a project. Both parties, i.e the contractor and the organization agree upon the time period, start and end date, and the total cost via an agreement. Some examples of contractors might include Bechtel, Turner Corp, etc.
Contractors are a great option when a group of people with varied skills are required.
Even if you don’t know a thing about contingent workers, you must have heard of ‘freelancers’, the 21st century’s buzzword. It is literally everywhere. Freelancers are usually individuals that are associated with multiple clients and deliver them work based on the services they provide. Some examples of freelancers include graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, etc. The number of people classifying themselves as freelancers has skyrocketed in the last five years. Freelancers have their own terms and conditions and have vast experience in dealing with multiple clients.
Casual earners are somewhat similar to a freelancer minus the guaranteed association with the brand in the future. They are usually hired during the peak season when organizations want some additional employees for different tasks.
Temporary workers are the hybrid of contingent workers and full-time employees. They get work via a staffing agency or their clients. They get more employment security as compared to any other type of contingent worker.
Other contingent workers
In addition to the above-mentioned contingent workers, there are some other types of contingent workers including independent consultants, gig workers, etc.
Why should you hire a contingent workforce?
A contingent workforce gives a whole different perspective to an organization along with the added benefits that permanent employees don’t provide. Here are some of the reasons why you should plan on having a contingent workforce work for your organization.
Flexibility is one of the most underrated things that organizations often ignore. With the inclusion of contingent workers, there is more flexibility as the workers are more adept at dealing with sudden changes in the ecosystem. They empower the organization with their skills and evolve the existing work culture. In other words, it acts as an immunity booster and provides agility to the business. On top of that, it is easier to add and remove employees as per the requirement. Overall, they also make a positive impact on the productivity of the permanent employees and boost their work-life balance.
This one is an obvious point. Hiring permanent employees continuously might disrupt an organization’s finances. This is where a contingent workforce comes to the rescue. There are no additional overhead costs, no onboarding or training costs involved while dealing with contingent workers. On top of that, companies don’t have to spend money on health insurance, paid leaves, and other benefits that regular employees get.
Bridge the skill gap
Contingent workers are experts in filling the skill gap within the organization. It is not unusual for regular employees to not have the latest in-demand skills. On the other hand, contingent workers constantly learn new skills to compete with other staffing agencies and offer specialized skills on the go.
Additionally, some skills are expensive, i.e they require expensive resources and take time to learn. Contingent workers solve this issue by offering their expertise in the latest skills.
Apart from offering the latest skills at an affordable price, a contingent workforce also saves a lot of time and makes the whole process hassle-free. The onboarding process takes no time as compared to that of regular employees. There is no need to spend time on marketing the job role, shortlisting profiles, taking personal interviews, conducting orientations, training, etc.
All you need to do is find a dependable staffing agency and add contingent workers as and when needed.
Last but not the least, a contingent workforce gives a fresh perspective to the company and makes it heterogeneous. Every worker brings a new change in the workforce and might inspire regular employees to do better. Since contingent workers don’t have the access to the closed ecosystem of employees within the organization, they have no preconceived notions or biases.
What are some of the cons of a contingent workforce?
Nothing great comes without a risk. Similarly, there are some cons to having a contingent workforce. Let’s discuss some of them in detail here-
1. Partial control
The contingent workforce has to report directly to the staffing agency and therefore might become annoying for managers who want full control over them.
2. Management issues
Contingent workers aren’t entertained similarly to the regular employees. Due to this, they are very likely to be unfamiliar with the management of the organization. On the flip side, managers find it difficult to trust contingent workers easily and handle delicate tasks on their own.
The department of labor has laid out guidelines that differentiate between an employee and a contractor. While choosing contingent workers, some businesses might bypass some of these guidelines and have to pay a penalty when discovered.
Contingent workers aren’t completely a part of the company and yet they have access to some of the most sensitive and confidential information. Without a proper agreement, some of the workers can share the information with outsiders.
Since contingent workers have in-demand skills and the right expertise, some companies might get over the board with their dependency on them. In case of a change in the staffing agency, companies might find it hard to strike the same balance with the new team. Therefore, it is crucial to have a perfect balance between regular and contractual employees in the workforce ecosystem.
How to effectively manage your contingent workforce?
Now that you know all about the contingent workforce and how it will transform the corporate world in the coming years, it is now time to discuss the ‘contingent workforce management’ in detail.
To reap the benefits of having a contingent workforce and to minimize its cons, you need to learn the best practices for managing contingent employees.
1. Always run a background check
Running a background check always helps, no matter how reliable the source is. You can verify all the personal information, testimonials, and previous employers. Having the right information is essential and tells a lot about contingent workers.
2. Always follow an onboarding process(project-specific)
Companies mostly hire contingent workers for niche-specific work where specialization is needed. Therefore, it wouldn’t be possible to have the same onboarding process for both regular and contingent workers. To make the most out of your contingent workforce, develop a specific onboarding process.
3. Monitor your contingent workforce’s performance
No matter how long a contingent worker works for your company, having their performance record is a must. This record is crucial for the future as it would decide if they are suitable to work with or not.
4. Communicate well with your contingent workforce
Developing healthy relationships with contingent workers is important, after all, they are also playing their role in building your business. Make sure they are working in the right work environment, having ample resources, and getting used to the work culture of the company. Doing this will make your organization an ideal choice for contingent workers.
5. Hire contingent workers from empaneled staffing agencies only
Don’t hire contingent workers from agencies if they aren’t empaneled. If you do so, there are chances of fraudulent activities, hiring incompetent workers, and wastage of money. Therefore, research the know-hows of the staffing agency before taking the next step.