Contingent workers are a cornerstone of today’s workforce. An integrated approach to managing them can set an organisation on the path to harnessing its collective strength.

FREMONT, CA: As businesses strive to achieve their strategic goals and objectives, contingent workers have emerged as an essential resource. Contingent workers play an increasingly important role for firms, whether they are used to bridge a skills gap, offer temporary replacements for staff on leave, or address cost and time constraints. Leaders attempting to enhance or streamline their workforce management face new obstacles as a result of the trend toward greater contingent workforces, which now account for 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the total workforce on average.

When contingent workers make up a sizable portion of an organisation's workforce, siloed management, uncertainty about which tasks to delegate to external contributors, and shifting organisational dynamics (especially among human resources, procurement, and business unit leaders) become particularly challenging. However, by overcoming these obstacles and putting an integrated strategy into reality, it is possible to improve decision-making and efficiency, cut costs, increase access to essential skills, and demonstrate a stronger commitment to putting cultural and diversity principles into practice.

When contingent workers are hired, there may be a greater degree of freedom than initially seems possible. Contingent workers can temporarily fill positions, but HR and team members need time to identify the perfect candidate.

Vendor management systems (VMS) are used by forward-thinking businesses that use contingent workers to obtain access to data, analytics, and AI. By directly comparing the calibre of sourcing against vendors, it makes it simple to keep track of the actions and output of any contingent workers and vendors. Vendor and contingent worker performance can also be contrasted with one another. The integration of HR and procurement departments can optimize personnel acquisition and management strategies if data can be accessed throughout the organisation.

Types of contingent workers

Freelancers: To outsource work to a freelancer, one must be a self-employed person. Depending on the task at hand, the choice of payment can be per hour or the number of deliverables. An excellent illustration of a freelancer is an independent blogger. As mutually agreed upon, a business may pay them a set sum per word or piece. Moreover, unlike other forms of contingent resources, a freelancer often has no set beginning or ending date. Gig workers are a form of contingent labour that is extremely similar to this. However, a freelancer is more flexible with terms and conditions, more specialised, and available for more specialised, skill-intensive assignments.

Contractor: A contractor is a person or group of people engaged for a specific period, frequently for a complicated job. The contract between you and the contractor specifies a start date and an end date in advance. For a high-value project that demands significant investment and specialised knowledge, independent contractors offer the specialised skill sets that are required. For instance, hiring architects, designers, financiers, and other similar professionals is necessary while building a new airport. The only person who can offer you all of this knowledge under one roof is a contractor.

Casual earners: A contingent worker, such as a freelancer, is a casual earner. However, neither future career opportunities nor guaranteed working hours exist. Only when contingent workers are required to meet demand during the peak season can a corporation hire casual earners. They typically work shifts and irregular hours as opposed to contingent workers, who can work whenever they want. Daily wage workers and those hired to assist with the holiday rush in retail establishments are two notable examples.

Temporary workers: A temporary employee falls in between a contingent worker and a permanent worker. They frequently receive on-demand work from several businesses and depend on staffing firms or their current client to land a more long-term position. They receive more protection from staffing firms than from any other kind of contingent workers. In addition, they have a better probability than other contingent workers of landing a permanent position.

Advantages of hiring a contingent workforce

Greater flexibility: Business agility equips a company to respond quickly and effectively to market developments. Through the advancement of technology, work culture, and values, it improves its capacity to deal with market turbulence and uncertainties. A contingent workforce gives a business more flexibility, which promotes corporate agility. In contrast to a permanent workforce, a contingent workforce can be continuously expanded or reduced to meet changing demands. Additionally, more flexible working hours and a better work-life balance contribute to contingent workers' increased productivity and efficiency.

Better Access of Niche Expertise to Fill Skill Gaps: Maintaining a permanent workforce with knowledge in all areas all the time is nearly impossible for businesses. They are meant to meet the ongoing demand for specific expertise that varies from project to project. In addition, skill sets are expensive and in short supply, making it occasionally economically unviable to recruit them full-time. Now, for the successful filling of those skill shortages, a temporary workforce with particular skills comes in handy.

Unquestionably, a contingent workforce has become a highly adaptable and economical replacement for traditional personnel. Contingent workers serve as a supplement to the regular staff, help to satisfy skill requirements at the lowest feasible cost and increase the potential for novel ideas. In conclusion, a contingent workforce is one of the vital strategies for protecting workers from market volatility.