Workforce Management: Engage, Engage, Engage

workforceChances are you put a good deal of energy into finding the right contingent workers for the task at hand. But once you’ve found them, how much effort do you put into keeping them around?

When you hire someone to do one specific job, finish one project or fill in for some definite amount of time, you generally hope that the person is going to hang around long enough to get the work done.

PREMIUM RESEARCH: The Truth About Benefits and Bonuses (Through the Eyes of Temporary Workers)

And some new research produced by Allegis Group Services and HCI backs up the idea that most companies are fairly effective at keeping their contingent workforce on task. A full 73 percent of survey respondents suggested that their companies were either effective or very effective at “retaining contract talent throughout the lifespan of projects.”

This, of course, means that one-quarter of all respondents felt they were only “somewhat effective” at best. However, there’s a potentially bigger problem looming in the distance for contingent workforce management: slumping employee engagement efforts.

Cutting Back on Contingents
Personnel Today reports that one expert who went digging into the latest Quality of Working Life Report from the Chartered Management Institute found a disturbing trend in HR departments, at least in the U.K.

Since the recent recession, a growing number of British businesses have started to cut back on employee engagement efforts in a somewhat misguided attempt to save money.

“There is something around the belief that unless you get firmly onside with management [about] what is done quickly – cost reduction, re-alignment to this short-termism agenda as an HR player – you’re not doing anything of value and you’re seen as being a risk,” explains HR adviser Linda Holbeche. “Some people have gone so far down that they have bought into that agenda of treating people just as costs.”

Full-Time Problem for Part-Time Workers
The problem has had a profound impact on employee satisfaction and quality of life for full-time workers, according to the study.

But what can be easy to overlook in the broader concern about employee engagement is the effect that this type of treatment can have on contingent workers.

In many instances, contingent workers  feel unappreciated, because they often aren’t included in company events, company training or even some projects they could easily take part in. And contract worker engagement is only going to become more important as the role of contingent labor grows in the modern workplace.

These types of disconnect can keep contingent workers from coming back and from recommending a company to other potential employees. While the HCI report shows not every business has difficulty keeping its contract workforce on through the completion of a task, that question only addresses part of the problem. Other information helps show how reliably these companies can bring back workers when needed.

In fact, the report highlights that more than half of all respondents were unable to “source high quality contract talent quickly.”

That might not always be a direct result of frustrated workers, but the less effort that HR departments put into employee engagement the less they can rely on workers to support their recruiting efforts.

MORE: Are Candidates Calling the Shots? 

Do you see contingent worker engagement as a growing problem, or are these types of cutbacks being exaggerated? How big a gap do you still see between the way contingent workers and full-time employees are treated?

Allegis Group Services and HCI Research have come together to investigate some of these factors and how HR and procurement are working together to find ways to effectively manage talent when you’re not actually hiring a worker long-term. Our latest study, When Worlds Collide: HR and Procurement Managing Contract Labor, explores issues with contingent labor and provides suggestions.

 

Bruce Morton
Bruce Morton is head of innovation at Allegis Group Services.

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