The Rise of the Contingent Workforce
In recent years, organizations have sought out new ways to make employment more flexible. The contingent workforce, comprising independent contractors and part-time, temporary and seasonal workers, has had a substantial rise in popularity as Americans explore a more flexible workplace.
This “gig economy” now makes up about 40 percent of the employed, according to a recent Government Accountability Office estimate. The increase in contingent positions stems from workers’ desire to have enhanced autonomy, work-life balance and the opportunity to pursue multiple and simultaneous endeavors.
Clearly, the thought of managing your own schedule, at your own pace, with no concerns about conflict of interest appeals to many workers. But how exactly does the employer benefit from this “gig economy” and how can they attract top contingent talent? Let’s discuss:
Benefits of the Contingent Worker
Organizations can reap many benefits from hiring contingent workers. Most obviously, companies are not required to offer benefits to short-term employees. In hiring contingent workers, organizations can significantly impact their bottom line by eliminating the need to pay for PTO or any unproductive time. They can also save on administrative costs, because there is no need to withhold payroll taxes or pay social security and Medicare taxes.
On the other hand, contingent workers also provide a great base from which HR managers can recruit for full-time positions. Contract positions can serve as extended job interviews and provide HR managers with the opportunity to evaluate if these workers are the right fit for the company.
The ability to find top talent specific to your area of need can be easier with contract workers, particularly during special projects of limited time. For example, you may be able to secure an independent worker with more skill and talent than you would be able to afford on a full-time basis.
Attracting the Contingent Worker
In their report on the rise of the extended workforce, Accenture states that many of the most talented and desirable members of the workforce are pursuing contingent positions. It is important for HR managers to understand that contingent workers have a different set of priorities than full-time employees and may require different incentives.
While it’s important to emphasize the flexibility and independence that the position allows, it’s equally enticing to highlight any opportunities to hone their skills or gain broader experience. Continuing education, training and cross-department or –discipline opportunities may appeal to talent who are looking to diversify their portfolio.
Also, although temporary workers often trade benefits for higher pay and increased flexibility, throwing in some additional perks can appeal to the most in-demand talent. Offering insurance, retirement benefits or sick time can set you apart from your competitors. Also, because contract work is by its very nature temporary, offering benefits upon the completion of a contract can help workers take the right next step in their career path. Outplacement services can help set up contractors for future success, by providing coaching on future careers steps or resume revisions.
As our workforce becomes more complex and blended, HR practices must do the same. The contingent worker provides financial and recruiting advantages that have the capability to boost your company’s bottom line. And, a continuous infusion of fresh ideas from engaged and talented workers is crucial to the health of any organization. HR managers will need to establish strategies to attract the independent worker as the influence of the “gig economy” continues to expand.