HR Insights
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September 6, 2023

Integrating contingent workers: The key to a high-performance extended workforce

Employers are struggling to integrate contingent workers into their operations, despite the widespread use of these workers. Here’s how your organisation can turn that around.

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Is your organisation among the 80% of businesses that currently use contingent workers? This data from Ceridian’s 2023 Executive Survey of 2,000 leaders from around the globe shows how much today’s organisations rely on an extended workforce as part of their global HR ecosystem.

Contingent workers include independent contractors, freelancers, consultants, or other gig or temporary workers. And 65% of our survey respondents said they expect their organisation’s use of this extended workforce to increase in the next two years.

That’s likely because, as our data shows, nearly all (99%) of the leaders we surveyed whose organisations are using contingent workers have benefitted from doing so – with increased productivity (54%), greater workforce flexibility (51%), and increased organisational agility (50%) ranking as the top benefits.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. And one in particular prevents organisations from leveraging the contingent workforce to its full potential. Seventy percent of Executive Survey respondents said it is a challenge for their organization to integrate contingent workers into their operations.

You can’t realize the full potential of your workforce – full-time, part-time, and extended – when it isn’t functioning as one cohesive entity. Let’s look at some ways to seamlessly integrate contingent workers into your operations to maximise the productivity and performance of your HR ecosystem.

Understand differences

It may seem counterintuitive, but often the best first step towards successfully integrating contingent workers into your operations is to understand the differences between them and their full-time and part-time counterparts.

Contingent workers can all too often feel like second-class citizens, which can be detrimental to their performance and productivity. Engage with them to understand what they hope to get out of a given project with your organisation.

Take this opportunity to understand their motivations for being a part of the contingent workforce – whether flexibility, necessity, gaining job experience, earning more money, or other reasons. With this information in hand, you can more effectively appeal to their interests and bring them into the workforce fold in a way that mirrors those ambitions.

Create a broader talent strategy

When asked why they use contingent workers, the top three reasons for our Executive Survey respondents were to help achieve organisational goals (51%), to fill skills gaps (48%), and to fulfill seasonal staffing needs (46%).

Today’s workforce is boundless – fluid, always on, and borderless. And there has been an explosion in the types of work and workers, each playing their own valuable part in organisational success. If your organisation doesn’t already have an all-encompassing talent strategy that includes contingent workers, now is the time to create one. Having a holistic strategy that thoughtfully considers how contingent workers are used helps ensure they are seamlessly integrated into your HR ecosystem.

Think about which roles and situations would be best served by contingent workers versus full-time or part-time employees. And be sure to think outside historical parameters. If your organisation has only ever hired contingent workers to cover maternity and paternity leaves, for example, explore opportunities to further complement your workforce.

Use a talent marketplace

Finding contingent workers with the right skills was the top contingent workforce challenge cited in the 2023 Executive Survey findings. And if you have ever hired contingent workers, particularly in recent years, that may not come as a surprise. Finding the right skills in a rapidly changing world is infinitely more challenging. And it’s impossible to integrate contingent workers into your talent mix if you can’t find the ones you need.

A talent marketplace can make that search easier. While features may vary, talent marketplaces are essentially contingent worker talent pools. Organisations post their open shifts – whether they need someone for a shift or a season – and qualified workers are matched to these positions. This can help employers more easily find the skills they need, accelerate hiring, and scale to fluidly adapt to changing demand.

Talent marketplaces can also help organisations manage employee alumni networks, which are made up of past employees who are eligible for rehire. Eighty-six percent of the leaders we surveyed said their organisation's employee alumni network is successful at filling labour and skills gaps. 

Think about benefits

According to 2022 research from McKinsey, 36% of the American workers they surveyed identified as contingent workers. This figure has increased significantly from their 2016 estimate of 27%, expanding the overall size of the available contingent workforce. But if many organisations are vying for the same hard-to-find skills, the competition for contingent workers still grows and employers must think of ways to better attract these workers.

While increased pay may be the first perk to come to mind, it’s not the only option. Instead of solely focusing on how much to pay your contingent workers, think about when you will pay them.

On-demand pay gives contingent workers the option to get paid after every shift, if they choose. This modern way of paying – contingent, full-time, and part-time workers alike – gives workers more control over their finances and can help foster financial wellness. And it’s a great way to make contingent workers feel more appreciated by and connected to your organisation.

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