Agility: how a contingent workforce helps businesses be quick and nimble
Arsenio Bell

4 minutes

Agility: how a contingent workforce helps businesses be quick and nimble

An agile business needs an agile workforce. And since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s become increasingly important to be able to scale output up and down in line with demand. Add to this the fact that labor markets are tighter than ever, causing serious problems for permanent recruitment, and it’s easy to see why the agile contingent workforce is so crucial to success.

Alongside this recognition, a growing adoption of remote working and outcome-based statement of work (SOW) projects are transforming the art of the possible - meaning that benefiting from the external, non-employee workforce has never been more achievable, or more necessary.

Agility as a competitive advantage

In an uncertain world, a contingent labor force allows businesses to adopt an agile approach. For proof, consider the Covid-19 pandemic. Some businesses scaled back, and others had to significantly transform their activities - transitioning to a home delivery model, for instance, or switching from supplying the closed-down hospitality sector to selling directly to consumers. In an uncertain economy, the go-to labor resource of choice is always non-employed contingent labor.

But Covid-19 is just one data point.

Change of almost any nature demands businesses respond flexibly and at speed to remain competitive. Time and again, contingent workers - whether white-collar or blue-collar - prove to be an efficient, responsive, and cost-effective means of delivering the agility that’s so important when it comes to taking advantage of opportunities before the competition can.

Agility as a strategy

At any large, multi-site organization, a core workforce of thousands will typically be supplemented by a smaller group of contingent personnel. In manufacturing, for example, contingent workers will work alongside their permanent counterparts in a variety of roles - from highly skilled engineers to production operatives.

However, when different hiring managers source these individuals from different suppliers, and at different rates and terms, inconsistencies can lead to spiralling costs and a lack of control and visibility.

By standardizing the process and sourcing contingent workers through one specialist managed service provider, organizations can benefit from a set of trusted, proven agencies with access to a wide candidate pool - meaning they get the best people for the roles that arise.

Contingent worker agility: the power of MSPs

Agility involves moving flexibly and quickly. However, this can be difficult when engaging contingent labor in the traditional manner - either sourcing candidates directly or soliciting resources from multiple suppliers with multiple systems, multiple ways of presenting candidates, and subtly different talent pools.

It can be even more difficult to be agile, yet effective, in the way you engage service suppliers to provide outcome-based statement of work solutions.

This is where a managed service provider comes in.

By acting as an intermediary between the buying organization and individual suppliers, a managed service provider can reach out to many more suppliers than an individual organization could by itself. The MSP can also apply consistency and a single set of systems and standards to the sourcing process.

Ultimately, a managed service provider exists to deliver contingent workers at both speed and scale - as well as to build rigorous, consistent engagement processes. They also specialize in leveraging opportunities for wage arbitrage and other cost savings through efficient contingent workforce management.

Want to improve your agility? Read our report

With uncertainty becoming a defining characteristic of our times, agility will continue to be a competitive differentiator for the foreseeable future.

To help more organizations understand the agility benefits of building an effective contingent and external workforce, we partnered with global CPO community Procurement Leaders on an in-depth report on workforce agility.

Get your copy of the report to find out how we can help your business acquire the agility it needs to thrive in the new normal.

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