Talent management for contingent staff

A team working in the office

We’re becoming an on-demand people. From on-demand television to training and software as a service (SaaS), we’re accustomed to having our needs met here and now.

Is it really a surprise then that more employers are shifting towards on-demand headcounts?

According to findings in the Hays Salary Guide, two in three employers use temporary or contract staff; 44% use them for special projects or workloads and 23% do so on a regular ongoing basis. Just 33% of employers only employ temporary or contract staff in exceptional circumstances, or never do so.

The rapid rise in the use of non-permanent staff over recent years can be put down to the ability to access highly-skilled professionals on-demand and as needed. This flexibility allows organisations to meet the myriad of changing requirements faced, while delivering value (you only pay for the hours worked as opposed to a permanent package).

The need to move towards more of a contingent workforce is also viewed as essential to operate and compete on a global platform, since this solution offers fully compliant and ready to work people with the skills your organisations requires when you need them.

Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing employers become more sophisticated in their recruitment and management of this segment of their workforce. Today the majority 66 per cent of employers, according to a survey we recently conducted, have visibility of the size and location of their contingent workforce.

However, when questioned about the level of engagement and productivity of their non-ongoing workforce, just under half, 49 per cent, say they are as engaged and productive as their permanent staff. 28 per cent said they are less engaged and productive than permanent employees. The final 23 per cent were unsure.

Implications for employers

Today’s employers need to remain agile and bring in skills as and when required. The rapid growth of contingent workforces has implications for talent management that few have yet addressed.

Here at Hays, we’ve been supplying contingent workforce programs to clients for over 20 years. Based on this experience we suggest employers:

Be open: As organisations take their cue to focus on growth, many want to build better, more productive relationships with their staff – which increasingly include contingent workers. Even though contingent workers are engaged through a supplier, we advise employers to be open at all times and make sure communication flows both ways.

This openness extends to discussing a leave option for contingent workers in longer-term assignments. Many contractors are reluctant to ask for leave while in a contract and they appreciate being offered the chance to take a short break. This can include telling contractors in advance if a stand-down period is planned, for example over the end of year, so they can plan around it.

Use a reliable supplier: The biggest area of concern for contingent workers is being paid reliably and on time. Make sure you engage contingent workers through a supplier who pays regularly and on time.

Give non-ongoing staff a voice: Encourage temporary and contract staff to make suggestions and share information. Access to your organisation’s private social network, regular updates from your managing director or involvement in team meetings gives non-ongoing staff the opportunity to connect and share ideas and tap into the expertise of others.

Integrate non-ongoing staff: Assignment lengths are increasing and those who will be in your department or organisation for more than two to three weeks should be integrated into your team. This includes understanding your organisation’s culture and way of working.

Provide training: For longer-term assignments and contracts, it’s advisable to provide organisational and systems training similar to that offered to permanent employees. Your contractor will have fewer questions and be more productive thanks to this investment. In the process, you’ll convey that their contribution is valued.

Make others aware of their role: Make sure that everyone in the team is aware of the objectives or tasks the contractor is there to achieve.

Discuss performance: Provide performance feedback regularly to get the most out of your contingent workers and build more productive relationships.

Gain visibility and control: One in three employers (34 per cent) are struggling with the visibility of the size and location of their contingent workforce. There are various ways to do this but the ideal is a Vendor Management System (VMS) managed by an external provider that captures, manages and tracks all requests, vendors, workers, timesheets and spend. In turn this offers an enterprise level view of all activity, allowing processes to be standardised, best practices introduced and policies enforced.

About this author

Shane Little, Managing Director, Enterprise Solutions APAC at Hays. Having worked in the recruitment and staffing industry for over 17 years, Shane has a track record of running successful businesses across a variety of different sectors. As Managing Director for Enterprise Solutions APAC at Hays he is responsible for the delivery of market leading Talent Solutions to a range of clients across the region.

This involves the leadership and development of our talented sales, delivery and operational teams whilst maintaining senior client relationships and ensuring our clients retain a competitive advantage in talent acquisition from our MSP, RPO, technology and modular services.

Follow Shane on LinkedIn

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