Female manager training male employee in a factory setting

How to Make the Most of Your Contingent Workforce

by James Howe, on August 21, 2019
From rideshare drivers to the rise of freelance professionals, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about the “gig economy” lately. But what about the original gig workers: temps? The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that nearly 6 million people worked contingent, or temporary, jobs last year. By all accounts, temporary employees have become a critical part of the workforce in many industries, like manufacturing and distribution, accounting and financial, legal, and even the medical field.
As commonplace as temporary workers are today, they still report lower levels of engagement than their permanent counterparts. A Gallup poll found that contingent workers (not including freelancers and contractors) had less of a sense of belonging, a lower sense of stability, and less shared goal setting than permanent employees – and, they were significantly less likely to feel they were paid accurately and on-time. These feelings often lead to higher turnover and poor overall performance with more errors, which are costly to your business.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are several simple things every company can do to increase their contingent employee engagement, which will reduce turnover, risk, as well as your overall labor costs.
Why Use Contingent Workers?
Contingent workers are typically brought in to allow companies to supplement their existing workforce, whether for a day, a week, a month or even as a long-term strategic part of their workforce. By using contingent workers, companies can rapidly scale up or right-size their workforce without incurring the added costs or employer liabilities that typically come with adding or removing headcount. A flexible, contingent workforce also helps to navigate existing challenges, like open positions, skill gaps, frequent turnover in highly task-repetitive roles, extended training times, and even quality issues.
Temporary work offers a number of benefits to job seekers as well and it shows; a growing percentage of workers now prefer temporary work. Generally, the flexibility offered by temporary assignments is a big draw, while others job seekers look at temporary roles as a potential bridge to a full-time position, or an opportunity to work at a company that may not hire directly. In fact, even though temporary workers reported lower engagement in some areas, the same Gallup poll found that temporary workers actually rated higher than their permanent counterparts for their flexibility, autonomy, and their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

To learn more about the benefits of utilizing contingent workers, check our out blog The Benefits of Hiring Temporary Employees.
How to Make Temps Part of Your Team
Whether temporary employees are with your company for a short time, or indefinitely, there are a several steps you can take to get more buy-in and commitment from this part of your workforce. First and foremost, treat them like the rest of your staff. Learn their names, make sure they have the tools they need to do their job, especially on their first day, and treat them with respect. Temps often report feeling like they don’t get as much feedback as permanent workers, even if they are doing the same job function. It’s important to let them know how they are doing and that you value the skills and experience they’re bringing to the company.
Additionally, be sure to communicate your expectations about their performance, and include your temporary workers in any employee recognition programs your company offers. Just like other employees, temporary workers are likely to feel more invested in their jobs, their performance, and even your company when they feel their employer cares about their needs and personal growth. When choosing a temporary staffing supplier, look for one that offers good benefits for temporary workers. At a minimum, they should have multiple options to get paid, including direct deposit and pay cards, offer an ACA compliant health plan, as well as paid holidays, 401K plans, and even a paid time off benefit.  
How to Maximize a Large Temporary Workforce
In some industries, having a large contingent workforce just makes sense, especially for highly manual, task-repetitive positions. That’s why it is important to be deliberate in setting policies that will create greater worker satisfaction and productivity. A key to maximizing the success of your temporary labor program is to align with a staffing company that understands your business and knows how to help drive labor cost out of your operations, instead of just sending you more bodies. Your chosen partner should also have clearly defined employee engagement and retention programs already in place that support your values, mission, and goals around, safety, quality and performance. Whatever the size of your company, success comes when your staffing partner becomes truly embedded in your company’s culture. This means they know intuitively how to recruit, screen, and engage employees in the way that works best for your business.
As unemployment rates continue to drop in virtually every market, the need to have flexibility in your staffing model is critical in order to succeed in today’s economy. Utilizing temporary employees, as a way to supplement your team, is a workforce planning solution that has become more important than ever. By working together with your staffing agency partner in a way that allows them to understand your labor goals, they can integrate, on-board, and manage your temporary workers efficiently and you can ensure that your company has the agile workforce it needs.
LandrumHR offers Staffing Solutions, Executive Search and fully-customized, Workforce Management programs to companies that rely on a large contingent labor force through its Workforce Solutions Division. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your business succeed.
James Howe

Jim Howe is the VP of Workforce Solutions for LandrumHR. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the Staffing Industry, having worked for a couple large national organizations. Jim’s expertise has been in building teams, growing revenue and profitability, while working in tandem with his clients to implement workforce management solutions focused on attracting, engaging and retaining the right workforce.

View more blogs by James Howe