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The next decade will see our workforce becoming more diverse than ever as the population of contingent workers increases. Edelman, a global communications marketing firm, surveyed 1000 workers to assess the extent of, and attitudes towards, freelancing.  The survey results suggest contingent workers account for an increasing percentage of the workforce.

Embracing an increasingly contingent workforce may seem like a necessity rather than a choice. But this new workforce brings with it specialised knowledge and expertise that can benefit an organisation in unexpected ways.

A contingent workforce can be highly beneficial to your organisation. For example, it can provide access to specialists for ongoing work when you can’t necessarily budget for it at a full-time rate.

Expanding your freelance or off-site employee base can also help expand your services into different parts of the country or world. But managing a contingent workforce is not without its challenges.

More efficient compliance and onboarding

Onboarding and managing contingent workers is a real challenge due to their partial – and sometimes unpredictable – participation in their employer’s operations.

In a recent blog post, Australian HR management company Pendragon listed some of these challenges as: “The lack of an integrated workforce management strategy, (at times high-risk) managerial behaviour, poor data management, inadequate technology and compliance.” It added: “These shortcomings can expose companies to significant business, financial and public relations risks.”

Organisations of all kinds can put in place various processes and procedures to mitigate these risks and ensure new workers understand their compliance related responsibilities and are familiar with the workplace they’re being employed in.

Plan ahead, create relationships and customise your onboarding
Onboarding is perhaps even more critical for contingent workers than full-time employees, and it should start before the employees do. When planning the onboarding program, the workers’ situation should be uppermost in your mind.

An iCIMS article notes that “Along with the standard elements of onboarding process such as overviews of the company’s values, mission statement, organisational chart and new hire paperwork, there are also more individualised elements that should be incorporated into a contingent onboarding process.”

For example, while they need to understand policies, procedures and any compliance requirements, contingent workers are unlikely to need, or want, the amount of onboarding that might be appropriate for a full-time employee, for example education on company background and culture.

“To receive maximum benefits from contingent workers, you must more closely align the onboarding practices used for regular and contingent employees while still delivering a unique experience suitable for the individual circumstance,” states the article.

And even before the workers commence employment, organisations can mitigate potential “problems with engagement and loyalty,” if they “cultivate relationships and deliver personalised experiences before the contingent employees even start.”

This means, for example, supplying important documentation to workers ahead of time, and making direct contact (by phone or email) to welcome them to the organisation.

Final Thoughts

For compliance purposes, contingent workers require a certain amount of training in workplace policies and procedures. But they don’t always receive it as organisations may baulk at the cost and logistics involved.

It is important from an engagement, efficiency and risk management perspective that employers review how they manage, verify, report on and provide a formal on-boarding program to induct contingent workers. Elements of this can be automated by appropriate systems.

Contractor management Systems and online learning is the achievable solution to many of these problems – it allows contingent workers to train when and where they choose, it enables training material to be tailored to the specific needs of each role or individual, and it records your employees’ training and results, ensuring mandatory training is delivered and completed to a satisfactory end.