Director, Communication & Change Management
Talent Practice Leader for Metro New York
The Contingent Workforce – Managing Risk & Unlocking Value
The pace of change, advances in technology, the entrepreneurial leanings of millennials, talent and skill shortages — there are many forces changing the nature of work. As a result, one section of the workforce, the contingent population, is on the rise. With most organizations focused on supporting a full-time employment model, this shifting and expanding model presents new engagement challenges.
But should companies care?
To appreciate the importance of this issue, organizations need to balance the value delivered by contingent workers, as well as the risks inherent in contingent work arrangements. How might these arrangements help accelerate growth? What are the risks posed by contingent workers’ access to intellectual capital and knowledge of business operations? How could contingent workers nurture (or damage) a company’s brand and customer loyalty?
One challenge lies in the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes contingent work. It can refer to different types of alternative, nontraditional work arrangements in which the work has a fixed term or is limited in duration. In its broadest sense, this can include any work arrangement that does not involve full-time employees (FTEs) and that is contingent on a formal or informal contract.
However, regardless of definition, with the changing nature of work, the option to regard contingent workers as non-employees is no longer practical or sustainable. In fact, thinking ahead about how to build engagement, inspire loyalty and unlock discretionary effort among this growing section of the workforce has the potential to drive greater performance and mitigate business risk.
The following questions can help employers begin to better understand the role of contingent workers in their organizations:
- Do you know who all of your contingent workers are? Do you currently track them?
- How important a role do contingent workers play in your talent strategy?
- Can you identify the different segments of your contingent workforce and each segment’s key engagement drivers?
- How well are you currently articulating and demonstrating your value proposition to the contingent workforce?
Answering these questions and beginning to unlock the potential of this key workforce segment could be a game-changer.