In an environment that continues to rapidly change, contingent workers – individuals who are not on company payroll but provide services to an organization – have become a key resource in helping companies achieve their strategic business goals and objectives. Whether contingent workers are brought in to fill a skills gap, provide temporary coverage for employees on leave, or meet cost and time considerations, they serve an increasingly essential role for organizations. The trend toward larger contingent workforces is creating new challenges for leaders looking to improve or streamline their workforce management.
Managing a contingent workforce can vary according to the industry, business operations and corporate culture and be influenced by events beyond a company’s control. But the following best practices can serve as a guide when you’re implementing and upgrading your contingent workforce management program.
- Define and document policies, guidelines and processes specific to contingent workers. Documentation clarifies the steps required when hiring contingent workers. This practice ensures that contracts and nondisclosure agreements are signed, onboarding activities are fulfilled, and manager and contingent worker expectations are clearly defined. To avoid blurring the lines between employees and contingent workers, for example, it may not be appropriate for contingent workers to participate in team events, unless the contract exceeds a certain number of months.
- Create an excellent worker experience. Make contingent workers feel a part of the company and the project team they work with. Ensure that both the hire and the team see the benefits of the arrangement. Have a plan before hiring contingent workers that outlines how they’ll fit into the project, their role on the team, and their fit within the team hierarchy. It’s important that contingent workers get to know members of the team and share information on a timely basis.
- Have a companywide plan for bringing in contractors. Rather than allowing individual departments to create policies and ideas for managing their contingent workers, have a companywide strategy to create cohesion and minimize confusion. Educate and train managers about the hiring process for contingent workers, including the differences between hiring contingent workers and full-time employees.
- Optimize your contingent worker processes. It’s critical to have a work management solution in place that includes a system for managing workers’ time, payments and responsibilities. You also need robust processes to continually track the performance of your contingent workers and to keep workflows and oversight streamlined. These metrics will not only provide you with evidence of the effectiveness of your workforce, but they will also allow you to support the business case for contingent workers in executive-level discussions.
Contingent workers consider their contributions in the workplace as valuable as those of regular workers, and they expect to be treated on an equally professional level. Developing an integrated approach to management of your hybrid workforce can lead to improved decision-making and efficiency, reduced costs and improved access to critical skills.