As industry needs continue to change, more and more companies are exploring the benefits of a contingent workforce. In fact, as many as 40% of American workers classify as on-demand basis employees, most commonly in the form of freelancers and consultants.
A contingent workforce is a flexible and on-demand workforce. A contingent workforce gives companies the ability to acquire the best available talent with a specific set of skills. It enables quick adaptation to major market changes (expansion and contraction), rapid scalability, skill development, and expertise sharing. These are all some of the reasons why adopting a contingent workforce is becoming the most powerful employment strategy today. However, managing this workforce doesn’t come without its challenges. Here are our top tips for how managers can keep their contingent workforce up and running through effective leadership.
Onboard and familiarize
First, managers must get off on the right foot by properly introducing a contingent worker to the company and vice versa. Having a defined onboarding process covering the company, its workers, and their roles, as well as goals and current progress, can help contingent workers understand their position on your team.
Helping a contingent worker become familiar with the team and the company’s overall goals result in a productive collaboration that is beneficial for everyone — especially since there is considerably less face-to-face time between you and your contingent staff.
Incentivize and recognize achievements
When workers are incentivized for good performance, their need to feel valued is met, and they stay motivated for longer. Providing regular feedback to contingent workers is critically important to making them feel a part of the company. Freelancers rely on constructive criticism to develop their skills and improve their work. This way, they will be able to adjust faster to the company’s expectations and contribute better to the organization. And by incentivizing targets and quotas, managers will also be able to track progress and identify growth points for the team.
Value their career growth
Having consistent feedback entails understanding the importance of a career path for a contingent worker. Highground CEO Andee Harris recommends getting to know employees’ strengths in order to lead them successfully. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all management style,” Harris explains, emphasizing the importance of personalization in leading different teams.
Similarly, understanding who the employees are and any problems with their roles can speed up optimization in a company that uses a contingent workforce. Taking the time to present workers with options for training or expanding their role can not only be encouraging for them in their career path but can also benefit the company despite their potentially short stay. That’s because investing in a contingent workers’ growth will improve not only the quality of their work but also of the contingent workforce as a whole.
Utilize technology for contingent workforce management
Last but not least, managers must be able to utilize technology effectively to eliminate the problems of distance and time. Today’s leaders must be adept at using tech tools to manage remote workers in ways that connect with them. Problems with utilization visibility, optimizing performance, or simple internal communication can be solved with these tools. It’s important to use a system that is one end-to-end platform. Having one system of record for your contingent workforce will streamline management and allow insights into everything from scheduling, to adjusting your budget, to administering payroll.
As the pool of freelancers and consultants continues to grow, it is important for managers to know the difference between what is beneficial for contingent workers versus regular employees, and what is essential for both.