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We know that the traditional ways of working are becoming a design of the past, making way for a more flexible working space. The workforce has seen rising numbers in contract or ‘contingent’ workers; but what does this mean for company leaders?  What are the challenges and how can leaders attract, engage and take full advantage of the contingent workforce and the opportunities it presents?

Today’s diverse workforce ecosystem

Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, The Rise of The Social Enterprise studied how companies are redefining work.  They looked at how the employer-employee relationship is being replaced by a diverse workforce ecosystem – a varied portfolio of workers, skill networks, contingent or contract workers and service providers that are attractive to employers due to their flexibility, specialist skills and negotiable contract terms.

The report findings add;

“While it may be appealing to hire contractors quickly or to outsource technical or service work, taking advantage of the emerging workforce ecosystem’s benefits brings a variety of new challenges, and our research shows that most companies are not fully ready…only 16 percent told us they have an established set of policies and practices to manage a variety of worker types, pointing to an enormous gap in capabilities.”

SAP Fieldglass external workforce insights 2018 concurs with Deloitte’s insights and refers to the contingent workforce phenomenon as one of the most important business stories of our time.

The report highlights that too many c-level executives aren’t paying close attention and those that aren’t managing their independent contractors and contingent workers will stand to lose their competitive edge fast.

“Nearly half (46%) of respondents say that without an external workforce they would be unable to conduct business as usual, and about two thirds (65%) say the external workforce is important or very important to operating at full capacity and meeting market demands.”

How contingent workers are making businesses more competitive

Contingent workers are the answer to harnessing specialist skills.

In their survey, SAP Fieldglass states that;

“Over three quarters of executives cite the importance of contingent workers in sourcing skills that are in scarce supply, with virtually all respondents (91%) saying that this will be the case in three years’ time.”

Digital skills and other niche capabilities are a critical factor for success in the global economy, and therefore meeting the demand for highly skilled temporary workers at the right time and in the right place is paramount.

It’s not solely about cost saving anymore.

Business leaders are beginning to realise that nurturing a contingent workforce is essential to improving business performance, yet leaders cannot effectively manage what they don’t measure, so these new ways of working require contingent workforce solutions and a new management approach.  The feedback drawn from this question in the survey speak volumes;

To get the most value out of your growing contingent workforce, business leaders need to look at the bigger picture and have a long-term strategy for optimal contingent work management.

4 tips for harnessing the power of a contingent workforce

1. Leadership

It is important to have transparency on the scope, activities and quality of contingent workers.  Especially in respect of challenges, benefits and where improvements can be made. Be open, honest and trusting of your contingent workers and they will be the same in return.

2. Assess future skills gap

Regularly assess the skills that you know your business will need more of in the future, particularly those that are harder to find. Ask yourself if these skills are only needed for short term goals and if permanent employees are required. This will help guide you in employing the right workers as well as keep you one step ahead in the game.

3. True value

It is important to understand the real value of your contingent workforce. Are they for instance, more instrumental in getting your business offering out to market? Is it your external workforce that fills the gaps in specialist skills needs?  Do they represent better ROI given the project/flexible nature of their working contract terms?

4. Respect and inclusion

Embrace the skills that the contingent workforce brings to the business and extend the company vision to make them feel part of the company’s purpose and objectives.  It is also important to include freelancers, independent workers and contractors in learning and development programs.

Global skills development company, the City & Guilds Group produces an annual Learning Insights report and this year, findings inevitably show that there are key learning challenges with rising contingent worker adoption.

“Over half of employers anticipate their use of contractors will increase over the next 3-5 years and yet that L&D activity is not geared to cater for them, with more than a quarter saying it is wholly ineffective.”

For further reading on steering a learning culture across the entire workforce, review Kineo’s Learning Insights #2: A risky business. 

And, if you’re ready to streamline your contingent workforce, then Sitepass is the answer you’re looking for. A single platform with all the tools you need to manage contractors, compliance and risk internally and externally.

Start a free trial of this new age workforce management software today.