Written by Mairead Simons
What is a contingent workforce?
When we talk about a contingent workforce we include both temporary workers and short-term contractors, who work on-demand in a broad range of sectors. The number of employers using a contingent workforce is continuing to grow and with a long list of benefits attached, it’s not hard to see why it is becoming the favoured option for many.
During the pandemic, the use of a contingent workforce has been utilised by a range of companies who may not have considered this previously.
With many organisations thrust into situations where there is mass uncertainty concerning not only working patterns but also the amount of work needed, a workforce of readily available short-term workers seems to be the only feasible solution to this dilemma. We could start to see this short-term solution becoming a more permanent fixture as life gets back to normal and we come out the other side of the pandemic.
Advantages for employers
One of the most enticing benefits for an employer is the reduced costs that come with hiring a contingent workforce. With temporary workers, you are only paying for somebody’s work when you know you need them, therefore there will be no paying out for surplus workers. Employers are well aware that taking on a permanent member of staff is a big commitment and will include a hefty sum being paid out, therefore taking on a workforce of short-term workers is often chosen. This also works in the employee’s favour as because employers will not be paying these people long-term this will often persuade them to offer higher rates of pay to attract the best talent for the short periods they will need them for, meaning workers can earn more money in less time.
The flexibility of hiring a contingent workforce is another key factor in employers’ decisions to recruit this way. Temporary workers are regularly available at extremely short notice and can be found with a wide range of skills that can be transferred throughout a variety of assignments. This is so useful to companies in particular which have periods of the year which are far busier than others. A contingent workforce will mean that they can cut down on the time it takes to put a candidate through lengthy recruitment and interviewing process, catapulting candidates into their roles and solving their staffing problems.
The availability of contingent workers helps businesses to assess their needs on an ongoing basis. Depending on company workload and permanent employee’s schedules, businesses may be left with a much larger need for workers than they had initially assumed. A contingent workforce who are ready to join the organisation at short notice is an extremely effective solution in situations like these.
Making full and effective use of a contingent workforce can eventually lead to a strong workforce of permanent workers. Hiring a candidate on a temporary basis can often be used as a trial period, with many workers eventually being taken on full time. To at first employ, people on a temporary basis gives the company a chance to get to see a great variety of perspectives and working styles, and this has led to more employers using this strategy, in effect, as a ‘try-before-you-buy system. This also works the other way as the employer has no obligation to take temp workers on full-time, so if someone is not reaching their full potential at work, they can be replaced by another readily available worker.