The Contingent Workforce Needs HR’s Attention

Many companies spend a great deal of effort on strategic planning for recruiting, training and retention of their permanent workforce. However, it is apparent that the contingent workforce does not get the same consideration. This is curious considering many estimates indicate that 25 to 40 percent of the total workforce is contingent. That is a big component of the total workforce. Accordingly, companies need to consider that contingent workers are an integral component of their human capital.

In the past, contingent work was cyclical. Contingent jobs increased when the economy was robust and decreased during downturns. This is no longer the case. During the current economic environment the addition of permanent jobs has been sparse but contingent positions are increasing. The contingent workforce is growing. Companies are reluctant to hire full-time employees for a host of economic reasons, such as fear of another great recession; unpredictable benefit costs (particularly healthcare), downsizing costs, etc. Still needing to get the work done, organizations that are reluctant to hire permanent workers find it prudent to hire contingents.

Enabling Agility. Many corporations in the current economy and competitive environment understand the necessity of staying nimble. Consequently, companies are engaging more workers on a contingent basis which permits them to easily expand and contract their staffing. In order to be successful they need to have the right people with the right skills at the right time.

Unique Risks. There are different legal and regulatory considerations when engaging various kinds of contingent workers (i.e, agency temps, independent contractors, SOW workers, in-house temps, etc.). Companies should understand the laws and regulations that come with each classification of contingent worker and then track and manage them carefully to minimize risk.

For these reasons, the contingent workforce needs HR’s attention. Companies need to address contingent labor as an integral component of it total workforce. HR department needs to focus on issues related to contingent workforce management with the understanding that this is now a major part of the total workforce. It requires commitment and investment of the HR departments to manage contingent workers properly.

Peggy O'Neill
Peggy O'Neill is director of contingent workforce management at ESPN.

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2 comments
hr on demand
hr on demand

Thanks for sharing such amazing details. I really appreciate your views. HR attention towards the workforce really important it boost the employe moral and also help in the company growth.....

brenholz
brenholz

You make some excellent points, Peggy.  Strategic management of your contingent workforce has always been a smart move but with companies increasingly reliant on CWs it becomes imperative.  Workers are people, and people are generally motivated by the same things, whether they are permanent or contingent employees.  Retention is another concern that doesn't discriminate; companies don't want to lose a contractor at a critical juncture any more than they want to lose a permanent employee.  Too often regulatory concerns and co-employment issues mean that a company essentially ignores their contingent workers when what they should be doing is managing them similarly to their permanent employees.  A good staffing provider can work with HR and CW programs to help them stay on the right side of the law while strategically managing this critical part of their overall workforce.

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  1. [...] Many companies spend a great deal of effort on strategic planning for recruiting, training and retention of their permanent workforce. However, it is apparent that the contingent workforce does not get the same consideration. This is curious considering many estimates indicate that 25 to 40 percent of the total workforce is contingent. That is a big component of the total workforce. Accordingly, companies need to consider that contingent workers are an integral component of their human capital.  [...]

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