How businesses employ talent has changed drastically in the last year. COVID-19 has undoubtedly inspired a shift towards greater workplace flexibility and has encouraged more organisations to rethink how resources are engaged and deployed. And as more employers begin to plan for 2021 and beyond, the anticipation is that contingent workers will be used more often to support business recovery, without the commitment or liability that comes with scaling up permanent headcount once again.
So, with this in mind, what are the benefits of contingent and non-contingent workers? We take a look at the main advantages of each, and therefore how important it is to strike the right balance between them, based on the key criteria for today’s employers:
The five benefits of contingent and non-contingent workers
- Access to wider talent pools: Being able to access the right skills at the right time is vital for businesses. Permanent staff do bring a level of security to a company as you know exactly what resources you can access immediately. But in an ever-changing economy, there will be a need for skills that aren’t available in-house and are not necessarily needed on a long-term basis. That’s where contingent workers are hugely valuable. HR teams can bring in temporary resources when they are needed to fill gaps, often much quicker than they would be able to going through the necessary approval, sourcing, interview and on-boarding processes for permanent staff. And where businesses are battling skills gaps – across digital and technology, for example – tapping into contingent workforces will widen the talent pools your business is engaging with.
- Cost efficiency: In relation to the point above, hiring contingent workers can often prove more cost-efficient, particularly when shorter-term resourcing needs arise. Having a permanent workforce may provide your business with a clearer picture of headcount and salary budgets in the future, but permanent employment comes with additional costs including training investment. For the non-permanent workforce, employers are only paying for the skills required as and when they need them, without the additional long-term costs.
- Scalability: When it comes to scaling up your business there are benefits of both contingent and non-contingent workers. For the latter, having a team that already knows the business inside and out is valuable when planning to scale-up. However, this permanent section of the workforce will unlikely be able to completely support rapid scaling – whether that’s due to a seasonal increase in demand, a change of business strategy or a one-off project. A permanent workforce will traditionally take longer to get up to speed and ingrained in your business because employer’s will invest in more extensive training and induction activities. That’s where contingent workers are incredibly valuable. By partnering with the right suppliers and engaging with the procurement team, it’s entirely possible to rapidly and swiftly scale up your people resources to meet temporary demands without impacting business as usual activities. Crucially, the contingent workforce then affords employers the flexibility of quickly and cost-effectively scaling back down when spikes in demand are over.
- Flexibility: While an employer can be flexible in how full-time staff work, the agility of the contingent workforce is far greater. Non-permanent resources can be engaged and redeployed across the business to support an organisation’s changing needs. In an uncertain economy, this is particularly beneficial as demand and supply of skills sees peaks and troughs in line with global, regional and national economic developments.
- Outputs-based approach: With a fixed permanent headcount, the challenge in today’s environment is that it isn’t as interchangeable and adaptable as workloads can be. However, one of the benefits of a contingent workforce that is becoming increasingly valuable is that it can be used on a Statement of Work (SOW) or outputs-based model. No matter what type of contingent worker you’re deploying, you only pay for the work that is needed. This is a highly valuable benefit at a time when budgets are likely to be tight, and one that perfectly suits project-based work such as large IT implementations.
There are definitely a mix of benefits for both contingent and non-contingent workers. However, in today’s economic climate and in the future ‘better normal’ that we’re all moving towards, a more agile workforce presents numerous opportunities that businesses simply can’t ignore. There is a type of resource engagement that can suit all business scenarios and flexibility should extend into your workforce and the way it operates. It’s important that you grasp this opportunity now to drive competitive advantage and hold on to your flexibility, agility and scalability by seriously considering what your future workforce should look like and when to use each type of engagement.