With freelancers, independent contractors and consultants making up a substantial part of the post-pandemic workforce, HR and staffing agencies must engage and nurture their temporary talent pools if they want to keep up with the competition.
An often-cited report by financial software firm Intuit predicted that contingent and temporary workers would account for 40% of the US workforce by 2020. The global pandemic will have only pushed these figures higher as individuals turned to contingent opportunities as permanent options dried-up – and realised the real benefits of this form of work.
So, how can businesses build a robust contingent workforce management process that will enable them to tap into highly skilled professionals as and when they’re needed? Or to look at it another way, what factors will persuade the top contingent talent to choose one employer over another?
It may come as a surprise to some, but employer values will play a big role.
Getting your employer value proposition in order
With the war for talent raging across many different industry sectors, it has never been more important for companies to offer a compelling employer value proposition (EVP) to not only make their organisation attractive for permanent workers, but also for their flexible, contingent labour. Whether you need to bring in digital, tech or project management skills, wouldn’t it be great if you could call on these specialists when you need them most, without concerns around availability?
A strong EVP plays a crucial role in a firm’s ability to do this.
And as Millennials and Gen Z workers are likely to account for the majority of the working population over the next decade, employers need to appeal to this demographic of tech savvy professionals who want to work flexibly. These generations are driving the contingent workforce movement in a post-pandemic environment, and they expect as much from a temporary employer as they do from a permanent one.
They want exciting challenges and purposeful roles. And they want to join diverse companies that have a strong track record in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) matters. To attract these individuals requires more than just paying top dollar for their services – it requires a genuine commitment to their needs and wellbeing, and to doing good in the wider world.
While a return to office life is already happening, flexible working is also here to stay – especially for contingent workers in white collar occupations. So, what can leaders and organisations do to enhance their EVP in a remote world? Communication is always a key component of any effective engagement strategy, so regular company updates are a must – it’s important to be transparent about the good and the not-so-good news. Workers appreciate honesty and authenticity, so leaders must be prepared to be upfront and show some emotion if necessary.
Video content and storytelling, with leaders sharing company values and celebrating examples of them in action, is a great way to connect with both internal and external audiences. Virtual learning will also help keep employees engaged and motivated and make them feel that you’re investing in their development, especially now when upskilling is so important for all – contingent workers included.
Becoming an employer of choice for contingent workers
Providing skills development for the non-employee workforce will play a critical role in attracting these individuals, and it’s something that many now expect as standard from a future employer. Providing opportunities for your contingent workers to learn and develop professionally, while also showing that you care about their wellbeing, will mark your organisation out as an employer of choice.
What’s more, making sure your people - contingent or otherwise - have the tools to do their job, catering for their working preferences, and providing them with opportunities for internal mobility will make a significant difference to your ability to retain your top talent. Contingent workers may be with your business temporarily, but it’s highly likely that you’ll need their skills again at some point. Proving to them that working for you will mean more than just a temporary gig and a few pay cheques is going to be increasingly important in convincing them to come back in the future.
Adopting a total talent approach so that all hiring – including contingent, permanent and written statement of employment particulars – is under the same roof will ensure that visibility and control can be maintained efficiently, streamlining your processes, generating efficiencies and saving you substantial costs. Such a methodology would also facilitate redeployment as you can easily see which skills you have readily available across the enterprise before having to look externally to plug those gaps.
Organisations must clearly re-evaluate all aspects of their EVP, not just rewards and employee benefits packages but their actual physical office space and remote working set up. In this way, they can provide a fit-for-purpose environment for their people to collaborate and socialise and be able to work optimally and flexibly – no matter how these individuals are engaged to work. For this to happen, though, employers must listen to what their talent wants.