Does your organization employ contingent workers? With today’s contingent workforce at an all-time high, and growing steadily, chances are that your answer is “yes.” In fact, as early as 2014, Forbes reported that 40% of the U.S. Workforce was made up of contingent workers.
Traditionally, contingent workers are generally categorized as employees who don’t have full-time or “secure” jobs. Contingent workers include agency temps, on-call workers or PRNs, contractors, self-employed workers, and part-time staff. In the Human Services industry specifically, contingent workers are very commonly PRNs, Fee for Service Clinicians, and Part-Time staff.
The rise in contingent workers can largely be attributed to a competitive and complex job market coupled with a shortage of workers with critical, in-demand skills. These factors complicate the objective of many Human Services organizations to reduce labor costs in order to boost revenues. As organizations continue to struggle with long recruiting cycles, high turnover, and an aging workforce, they are turning to contingent workers to bridge their staffing gaps.
As your organization continues to utilize contingent workers, it is important to a keep a strong focus on company culture, teamwork, and performance management.
Whether your organization is using contingent workers to bridge skills or staffing gaps, each investment in contingent work requires a double down on company culture to ensure sustainability. From Part-Time to PRNs, all employees want to feel like they are part of your organization and are valued as members of the team.
Conducting staff meetings in which only full-time employees attend, or only extending invitations to work events to a certain subset of core employees is a sure-fire way to alienate your contingent workers and drive a deep divide between your workforce. It is important to strategically introduce the use of contingent workers and share your plan, reasoning, and methodology with the entire organization so that everyone is on the same page. Allow time for contingent workers to get to know the team and provide regular opportunities for engagement between all staff.
Assimilating contingent workers to your organization is the first step, but the bigger challenge leaders are facing today is figuring out how to harness the power of a multi-faceted workforce and encourage them to work together in top-performing teams. In the 2017 State of Workforce Management survey, executives identified communication barriers, siloed information, and a lack of cross-functional talent as the top three deterrents to cross-departmental collaboration within their organization. If these problems persist among full-time employees, imagine how the introduction of more remote, part-time, on-call, and contract workers will magnify this issue. To effectively utilize contingent workers, organizations must develop strategies to foster communication and collaboration between applicable team members.
Contingent workers come with their own set of management challenges. Management models for contingent workers vary from one organization to the next, but there are two main methodologies including “centralized” and “de-centralized.” The centralized model involves one manager or point person that monitors and fills staffing gaps across the organization. The de-centralized model refers to a practice where the manager of each department is in charge of filling the gaps in their department only.
Regardless of which method your organization uses, contingent workers are often over-utilized, difficult to budget for, and time-consuming to track. A weak management strategy in this area can cost your organization valuable time and money. Establish a management model early on that incorporates budgeted utilization, regular feedback for the employee, and dates to re-evaluate the necessity of the position.
Skill gaps and staffing challenges are on a trajectory to continue increasing. Whether or not your organization currently utilizes contingent workers, developing a strategy early on for incorporating these workers into your culture, teams, and management models is critical to organizational success.
There is no doubt that contingent workers can be a valuable resource to bridge gaps or support growth. However, it’s important to conduct a regular analysis of your organization’s staffing levels and practices to establish appropriate usage rates for this type of workforce that often comes at a premium. Contingent workers should be used as a necessary asset to successfully operate your organization and not as a band-aid to fix know, or unknown, workforce management issues.