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How to prepare for the contingent workforce rise of 2023

Maria Goyer, Innovative Employee Solutions
Maria Goyer
Maria Goyer is the chief innovation officer at Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading global employer of record in more than 150 countries that specializes in payrolling and contractor management services for today’s contingent workforce.

Companies have long used contingent workers to help address workforce challenges—and the demand is now greater than ever.

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Today, with the rise of remote and hybrid work, organizations can more easily expand their searches for talent in different markets, countries and populations—and this has also enabled companies to engage temporary and other types of contingent workers, a critical source of talent to help organizations confront the Great Resignation and quiet quitting. Staffing companies in the U.S. engaged 2.7 million temporary and contract workers per week on average in the first quarter of 2022.

For companies looking to leverage contingent talent in 2023, it’s important to understand contingent workers’ wants and needs. Consider these tips as you plan your workforce strategies—contingent or not—this year:

Get to know what’s important to different generations.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are generational differences in today’s workforce. Older generations expect certain policies that might differ from what younger generations expect. Striking a balance will be essential to attracting and retaining workers from all age groups.

Gen Zers and millennials, for example, want a better work/life balance. They also want a sense of purpose in their work, most often in the form of a positive societal impact by their employer. The same can be said for development and advancement opportunities. Gen X, on the other hand, value flexibility above all else, according to a ManpowerGroup survey. They want remote work opportunities, paid leave and the ability to start and end the day as they choose. Baby Boomers still seek a good salary but are now also prioritizing individual growth.

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Invest in upskilling opportunities.

Like it has with most businesses, the increased adoption of technology has likely changed your operations, and you now might be dealing with skills gaps. Not all your existing workers have the skills and abilities to advance in their current roles. Start cultivating internal talent by investing in worker development and upskilling programs. Such an initiative not only benefits your retention efforts by improving morale, but it also saves on costs associated with recruitment and overall training. In addition, upskilling has a way of shaping the culture into one that values learning and growth, which can drive your business forward and help you keep the contingent workers who join your organization.

See also: A ‘tectonic shift’ is boosting freelance work. What should HR know? 

Maintain flexible work schedules.

As already mentioned, workers—especially contingent workers—value flexibility, both in working hours and location. The last couple of years gave them a taste of what such an arrangement means for their work/life balance. In fact, a recent study found that working from home saved workers 60 million hours of commuting time. Many workers have used that time for extra sleep or family time—not a bad tradeoff if that means workers feel more motivated during the day. Besides, greater flexibility has a way of improving a person’s sense of empowerment, which can lead to greater creativity and problem-solving at work.

Rethink length-of-stay policies.

Companies can engage contingent workers for a day, a week or several months. Some have gone so far as to substitute full-time positions with more temporary, project-based roles. Length-of-stay policies have been implemented to address two main concerns: risk mitigation of co-employment and budget review.

For risk mitigation, there are many operational and supplier-based procedures to address the workers’ understanding of who their employer is by ensuring that the employer provides benefits and communicates with workers on any disciplinary issue, as well as other procedures to clearly identify between employees and contingent workers. For budget review, more upfront analysis and scoping of the project engagements can help extend the length-of-stay policies. Look at your stay policies and determine whether they currently meet your needs and are fair to those you’re engaging on a temporary basis.

Prioritize wellness benefits.

The pandemic took a toll on more than just business. It also did a real number on employee and worker wellness, with an increasing number of team members reporting difficulties with stress, anxiety and uncertainty. Companies have responded in a number of different ways, offering flexible work arrangements, employee assistance program (or EAP) services, mental health benefits, telemedicine options and even financial education. Any combination of these benefits can improve the worker experience at your organization, as well as support retention and acquisition efforts for contingent and full-time employees alike.

Related: Influx of freelancers? Here are tips to manage them

Consider partnering with an employer of record.

Perhaps one silver lining to the pandemic is that more and more companies are now gaining opportunities to hire remote and contingent workers from around the globe. Remote-working capabilities have certainly had a hand in that.

This has led to the increased use of employers of records (or EORs), which are organizations that handle the hiring and payroll of workers for companies. Using an EOR guarantees compliance with the local labor laws and regulations (e.g., pay, insurance, benefits and so on) associated with wherever the remote hire is located. And if you’re seeking to expand into other markets, EORs can help speed up the process, as your business doesn’t need an entity in every region you have a worker.

Be recession-ready with contingent workers.

There has been a lot of talk recently about an upcoming recession, and many think it is an inevitable event in 2023. In the face of a recession, many companies put headcount restrictions and hiring freezes in place. But when the work still needs to get done, contingent workers can be a great solution. Companies can engage the talent they need to complete work in flexible and agile ways without butting up against hiring restrictions within their businesses.

Much like remote work, contingent workforce trends aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, especially in 2023. Take the time to assess your culture, the perks and opportunities you offer workers, and the ways you hire contingent and even full-time workers. If the work environment is right, it will help add members to your team—full-time and temporary alike—and make it easier for you to survive and thrive.

Learn about leveraging technology to manage your contingent workforce at the free, online HR Tech Conference Virtual, Feb. 28-March 2. Click here for more information.