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Contingent Workforce Do’s and Don’ts

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Much of the literature dealing with the rise of the contingent workforce focuses on what freelancers, consultants, and contractors can do for their clients. Few studies have investigated how hiring organizations can provide the opportunities and arrangements that outside workers desire. Metasys has compiled this list of best practices companies can implement to meet the needs of top free agent talent. Making it easy for contingent workers to choose and work for your organization gives you greater access to the skills you need when opportunities and challenges arise. If your organization wants to initiate or expand its use of non-traditional workers, these insights from contingent worker surveys and experiences will help you build a foundation that will attract, secure, and retain independent workers.

The care and engagement of freelancers and independent contractors requires constant attention. Companies serious about reaping the cost savings, talent quality, and flexibility a contingent workforce plan can provide should invest in management resources. Whether you designate an in-house contractor-procurement team or engage a managed service provider to oversee end-to-end administration of your workforce strategy, contingent talent management cannot be left to chance.

Like all workers, freelancers and contractors are motivated by money, but they also seek fulfillment from the assignments they undertake. Forty percent cite the opportunity to make an impact on the organizations they work for as their primary criteria. Other benefits freelancers and consultants consider important include challenging work (30 percent), skills development and career growth (26 percent), and client company culture (23 percent).

Here’s how to ensure your company offers these opportunities contingent workers crave, and how to ensure they know your business is ready to accommodate their needs:

Leverage Your Brand – Though companies pay great attention to making themselves attractive to potential full-time employees, employer branding is an often-overlooked component in attracting and retaining top contingent workers. For instance, 72 percent of the HR professionals responding to a survey said the employer brand is “very important” for recruiting full-time employees. Eighty-four percent said it is important for retaining staff. But only 16 percent gave branding the same rating when it comes to contingent workers. Yet, “the experience of gig workers depends a great deal on the kind of work they do. Independent gig workers (freelance and online platform workers) typically have greater autonomy and flexibility than traditional workers do, leading to higher engagement.” Companies who can deliver to gig workers the same brand promise they make to employees will build unique contingent worker culture.

Show the Love – Positive contingent worker culture is a goal worth pursuing. It could create sustainable competitive advantage, since 58 percent of contingent workers believe they are not treated as well as the permanent employees they work with. Companies that get it right when it comes to independent contractors will claim the inside track over well more than half of their competitors. These workers will be more likely to choose companies that demonstrate their ability to make them feel at home, and they will work with more dedication and higher morale.

Socialize – Scouting, grading, and keeping in touch with people who possess the skills your company might need helps you keep track of talented individuals. It also shows your willingness to invest in developing potential gig workers. Social media is an obvious place to start. Because a large majority of gigs are computer based – IT, freelance design and writing, professional services, etc. – the workers you need are online often. Engage them on the professional and social sites they frequent. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are outstanding forums for communicating the messages you want talented people to know about your firm:

  • Advertising job openings
  • Showing off the kinds of projects your people work on
  • Touting the career-development perks working for you can offer
  • Telling stories of successful employees and consultants

Social media gives independent workers a ringside seat from which to see your company in action. It enables them to envision themselves working with your people, technology, and industry. Give them an authentic vision.

Offer Options – Companies can increase their advantage in the struggle for contingent talent by offering a variety of earning and development paths for the contractors they hire. Some of these paths – such as healthcare insurance, vacations, and other benefits usually reserved for staff employees – may require some progressive thinking. But being able to provide perks few other companies would undertake is a significant differentiator for gig workers, as is delineating the steps workers could take during assignments and after they end. While nearly half of all independent contractors want to continue in their current status, a surprising large minority – around 20 percent – would rather nail down a salaried job. If that’s a viable option for the contractors you hire, you should promote it.

Present Challenging Work

The most common reason full-time workers change jobs is to take advantage of career-growth opportunities. Contingent workers are no different. Contractors may sign on for a few months or less and many freelance gigs can last only a day. Non-traditional workers are clearly motivated by variety and the chance to expand their skills and create additional work opportunities. Most companies are adept at developing employees and promoting them to positions of greater authority and better pay; while contingent workers likely will not be around long enough to reap those benefits, hiring organizations can still entice them by giving them projects that expand their knowledge and sharpen abilities they can use on future assignments. Firms can also put contingent workers on teams with others whose abilities complement their own, helping them establish connections that can pay off down the road. Finally, companies will improve their estimation in the eyes of skilled contractors and freelancers by assigning them to jobs that are high profile and boost their portfolios. These assignments may be more valuable to contingent workers than those offering higher fees for mundane work.

Metasys understands what motivates contingent workers. We can help your organization develop a comprehensive plan for attracting, landing, and employing non-traditional talent. Our experienced team not only has the contacts to source the skilled workers you need; we also can show you how to engage with promising candidates to present your company as an employer of choice in the talent community.

Contact us and let’s work together to build a solid pipeline of skilled workers you can access whenever you need short-term, long-term or permanent workers with the appropriate skill sets for your projects.


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