In 2020, businesses had to adapt and pivot at a rapid pace. In fact, almost one-third of organizations had replaced full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure, according to a survey from Gartner. And 71% of organizations expect the use of contingent labor to increase in the next 12 to 18 months, research from Everest Group revealed.
One thing that’s become very apparent is the need for agility and speed is not about to disappear any time soon. Hiring activity is high in all regions, and that includes an increase in the number of companies turning to temporary workers.
The global contingent workforce solutions and MSP market is estimated to be worth approximately $162.7bn in 2021, according to analyst firm NelsonHall.
Contingent talentgives employers flexibility through access to critical talent and is ideal for companies that need to scale at speed. Furthermore, organizations are recognizing the importance of integrating permanent and contingent talent acquisition so that it operates as one – with a total talent approach. This provides transparency and visibility across the entire workforce to inform strategy and improve business decisions.
If you have a large, complex talent acquisition program with various owners and talent pools, start by conducting an audit. Speak to procurement and finance as those departments traditionally own the contingent segment. Then use the information you’ve gathered to develop an improvement roadmap. You must understand your current program’s status to move forward.
When thinking about how to integrate your contingent talent program with permanent hiring, consider these elements:
Differing company culture perspectives between permanent and non-permanent employees
You need to solidify your culture so permanent and non-permanent employees can work together, rather than against each other. For example, permanent employees might feel a little worried about job security if they see “outsiders” bringing solutions. Create a culture in which the unknown is not feared while highlighting the benefits of adding temporary talent to your permanent workforce. In addition, employee value propositions (EVPs) will need amending to highlight the benefits of contractors to permanent employees. It’s not a them-and-us situation; instead, promote the advantages such as taking some of the tasks off the hands of permanent employees to lighten the load.
Employment branding more important than ever for ALL employees
Overcommunication and transparency are key in today's talent acquisition strategies. Messaging and content should be personalized to cater to all generations and all workers regardless of whether they are permanent or temporary. For example, boomers will want to know if an organization is financially strong before applying for a role. In contrast, millennials will want to see how a company partnered with the community during tough times and what support was offered. Candidates also want to know what companies are doing to support their people, customers and local communities during times of crisis, so information relating to these topics needs to be showcased in employment brands.
Remember, there will be a reduced focus on office facilities and in-person perks when it comes to employment brand. This is because a lot of companies have adopted a hybrid remote-office model. This may play well for contingent workers, who tend to have more location independence. Consider what perks your contingent workers get, and don't disregard remote employees (contingent or otherwise).
Employee well-being is a key part of company operations and programs should be open to non-permanent workers.
Onboarding and performance management considerations for contingent talent
If you opt to increase your use of gig workers, this year and beyond, an effective onboarding process (and virtual options if you're planning a hybrid-remote workforce) is integral. Onboarding is just as important for temporary workers as it is for permanent. Give contractors the option to participate in your mentoring programs as this will allow them to get more deeply involved. In addition, you'll need to consider how to evaluate and manage the performance of your contingent workforce and decide whether contractors will be eligible for the same benefits, such as bonuses or incentives, as their full-time counterparts.
How the right talent acquisition technology can bring it all together
Before the pandemic, not all organizations had access to the right talent acquisition technology. But it's being adopted at a much quicker pace due to our increasingly virtual environment. There’s been a rise in the number of companies launching digital transformation programsas a result. We’ve seen an increase in the number of organizations using digital interviewing technology, instant messaging and automation over the last 12 months.
As companies adapt to the appetite employees have for remote work, the right technology stack to deal with these demands is important. Digital onboarding platforms ensure a seamless onboarding experience for remote workers. Another option worth considering is blockchain. It can help to expedite hiring by verifying candidate credentials while securely managing digital identities. This reduces the time spent conducting background checks while eliminating the need for manual validation of data.
If you want to make faster, better hires, you should conduct regular reviews on your tech stack so it can be optimized to better suit your needs. Ask yourself if the talent acquisition tech you have is doing the job it’s intended to do. If you have technology that’s not being utilized fully, why? Don’t just have tech for tech’s sake.
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Predictive data helps companies to predict what’s going to happen in the future based on current data, forecasting techniques and statistical modeling. Perhaps the best advantage is that it can unify data, something that is particularly important in a total talent strategy. This is because a holistic approach is key. It also provides transparency and accountability, helping to show if your strategy is working or if you need to pivot to meet your goals. It’s important the quality of data isn’t underestimated. If the right data isn’t collected and compiled, the output could lead to poor decisions. You need to be able to use the data to tell the story of each of the segments of talent (e.g., contingent, permanent).
Workforce planning is essential when taking a holistic approach to talent acquisition
The skills employees have today are not the skills they'll need tomorrow. As a result, workforce planning is more critical than it's ever been and will include considerations about the type of talent your organization will benefit from bringing on board. Insights about your talent demand and use, combined with market intelligence and data lakes, provide the actionable information your business needs to make smart decisions about talent and your future business needs.
Do you find yourself being asked the following questions:
How do we fill roles quickly?
Where are target skills most readily available?
Should I be seeking permanent hires, contingent talent, or upskill current employees or a combination?
Many times, the answer is a total talent program that takes into consideration permanent hires, contingent talent and development programs that provide mobility to current employees. The data and analysis of an integrated talent management solution will enable you to have the insights required to answer these questions and deliver the right talent at the right time to meet business demands. Because total talent programs centralize the hiring for full-time, part-time, temporary and contingent workers, talent acquisition teams can look at their entire workforces in one glance. In addition, a total talent approach requires looking at strategic workforce planning, employment branding and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) holistically.
Mark is the global managing director at WilsonHCG. He has a wealth of experience in talent acquisition, contingent recruitment and executive search across North America and Europe. Prior to working at WilsonHCG, he spent almost 20 years as an executive director of a public recruitment firm running businesses in Europe and Canada before launching his own search firm. Mark has extensive experience in operations and workforce needs in a range of industries. A versatile and collaborative leader, he currently oversees the contingent workforce solutions practice at WilsonHCG.