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Let’s Talk Contingent Workforce

Let’s talk about the contingent workforce. The contingent workforce is slowly and consistently changing the way we view employment. Although it was initially the focus of staffing industries and procurement, this burgeoning segment of a recovering economy is now forcing hiring managers, talent acquisition pros and even employee retention specialists to really think about how best to prepare for this impending change.

During a tough recession, temporary workers who were simply paid for hours worked seemed like the ultimate panacea. Staffing agencies, viewed as inexpensive and replaceable (which many were), combined with HRO software fueled the RPO boom; today, contingent workers are seen as “critical.” Shifting healthcare costs to company and worker has changed the game, as well as generational attitudes toward work. What do today’s leaders need to know to prepare?

1) Matchmaking is still seen as tough. Fifty-eight percent of IT leaders say that finding great contingent workers who fit their organization’s needs is difficult, while 50% of IT professionals believe that finding a contingent work engagement that matches their skill sets is also difficult. Recruiting can be difficult in any circumstance but with reduced onboarding and training (as many expect with a contingent worker or team) this is something leaders need to address. Leader To-Do: Invest in multimedia learning communities to bridge the gap between internal employees and potential contingency workers is one way to both speed the training and cultural onboarding gap.

2) Contingent workforce is still vaguely defined. To keep up with demand in today’s globalized workforce, many companies are building a blended workforce to meet demand. While temporary or hourly workers (classically contingent) are surely an important part of that movement, there are other pieces to the puzzle. Vendor management services, strategic partners, freelancers and outsourced organization for business critical functions. In fact, 60% of enterprises plan to increase freelance hiring in 2014Leader To-Do: Create an organized back-end system that has the scalability to track, pay and report on these contingent work solutions. If leaders do NOT focus on tracking these increasingly complex solutions, they risk overspending on a budget and losing productivity from mere mismanagement.

3) Contingent work requires new methods of management. As the contingent WORKER changes, so does the contingent workforce. It stands to reason then, that managers will also have to change their training and management techniques. In industries like Oil & Gas, as much as 77% of the workforce now resides outside the core organization. Between freelancers and outsourced contracts (an estimated $6 trillion global industry), much of talent management is moving to the cloud and includes technologies like video interviewing and collaboration, independent contractor talent platforms, and remote performance management systems. Leader To-Do: Redefine your client. HR is no longer accountable to just the company, or just the classically defined employee. As the line item for outsourced or contingent talent grows, executives and shareholders will be expecting more accountability on behalf of the total workforce, similar to any other line item. Implement cloud-based performance and tracking solutions to create transparency in the organization.

4) Shift the focus for better results. In fact, shift the focus for any results. Results is the name of the game. Once the aforementioned steps have been taken to prepare your organization for the rise in contingent workforce, it’s time to start shifting the focus. The reason it is important to prepare with training, management and vendor management systems is because your entire workforce (both management and internal stakeholders or employees) needs to shift its focus to results based work. For many enterprises, this can be a difficult task. Leader To-Do: Train your leaders on performance management and collaboration and then implement a system that allows employees and contingent workers to do the same. Assure measurement across company departments and independent of worker classification status.

The contingent workforce is rapidly rising. This movement of talent promises to be one of the most transformative since the information revolution. Leaders should prepare themselves by setting the stage for learning, collaboration and performance management. Motivating and leading these workers will also be a primary concern moving forward. Create systems that allow you to report and track how your vendors, contingent workers, outsourcing providers, and more are crucial to getting ready to ride the wave of contingent or maybe more accurately, “the blended” workforce.

Talent Productivity Platform