Guest Contributor

How Can Companies Be Better Prepared to Engage and Manage Contingent Workforces

By | Elaine Bennett

Some businesses were forced to hire contingent workers in an effort to adapt and survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, while others simply have to meet company needs and production or project deadlines during busier periods. Regardless of the circumstances, contingent workforces can come with a number of benefits, from access to top industry talent to time- and money-saving advantages. However, these employees are also notoriously challenging to manage and motivate, especially in such an unstable business environment. To ensure your company is better prepared for engaging and managing contingent workers, consider following this helpful advice:

Invest in preparation in advance

While this might seem obvious to some, preparation should be prioritised early on when managing a contingent workforce. For example, if you already have a local contingent workforce strategy that’s proven and successful, it might be wise to analyse and document this approach. It can be a great first step if you’re planning to expand to a global contingent workforce in the near future, helping to define your strategy and ensure a measured approach. If you don’t have any tactics in place, however, hiring third-party providers such as an employer of record (EoR) or a professional employer organisation (PEO) for managing and engaging your contingent workforce might be the best course of action.

Get all your employees involved

It might also be a good idea to engage employees from your head office or local organisation for strategy set-up and execution. They can educate, train, and assist your contingent workers regarding the best practices, processes, operations, etc. It’s highly likely that your contingent workers haven’t had any previous experience with your company, culture, and general workflows, which is why an expert insider could be of great help when it comes to integration and ensuring smooth operations. This tactic can be quite beneficial when attempting to save some time and money throughout the entire process, and it might aid in technology integration as well.

Respect local laws and regulations

If you’d like to expand your contingent workforce globally, respecting local laws and regulations is key to success. If you’re a US company hiring overseas employees, for instance, you will have to learn more about the W8BEN form and what it’s used for. This will help to ensure compliance and prepare you to engage and manage contingent workforces more efficiently. In case you’re a UK business, on the other hand, you might need to understand IR35 compliance and whether your contingent workers are “off-payroll workers” for tax purposes. No matter where you’re located, following laws and regulations is necessary for ensuring a smooth working experience while protecting your organization from legal action in the process.

Maintain open communication

Maintaining a consistent and open stream of communication with contingent workers is crucial to success. Try to view your communications as relationship-building exercises, especially when in-person meetings are limited. Leverage phone calls and video conferencing apps to keep communication lines open. It may also be wise to ensure your company-wide messaging is clear, simple, and concise. This will help you make certain that information is accurate and interpreted well, while engaging contingent workers and allowing you to manage them more effectively in the process.

Aim to be more inclusive

Many contingent workers enjoy the opportunities to construct a more flexible work schedule and work from home, while others tend to avoid isolation at all costs. With that in mind, it’s necessary to adapt your company culture to support different types of work, especially when engaging a global contingent workforce. Ensure that these efforts to be more inclusive are supported by management and leadership as well, thus helping to actively engage contingent workers, sustain streamlined operations, and improve overall worker output. However, keep in mind that inclusivity takes time, perseverance, and patience to build, and is more likely to be successfully achieved with good communication and appropriate education.

Provide additional benefits

The need for flexible work has been steadily increasing over the last few years, and has quickly become one of the most important factors employees look for in employers, including contingent workers. Although contingent employment already provides some benefits in terms of flexibility, it also comes with uncertainty in the long term. As a result, it might be wise to implement certain retention strategies, especially if your company thrives off contingent workers. For example, you could offer external training, additional financial rewards, or even special recognition. These are all key elements of business culture that can positively affect the performance and the output of your contingent workers.

Managing and engaging a contingent workforce effectively can often be a challenging task, especially when working with international employees. Throughout this process, your ability to plan well and prepare in advance will dictate success, and you can do just that using the helpful tips mentioned above.

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