how to engage your contingent workforce: three key considerations

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As much as 30% of the working-age population across Europe and the United States are performing some kind of independent work, McKinsey reports. Among those workers, contingent workers have become a strategic pillar at manufacturing, logistics, automotive, and related industries across the globe.

This trend is growing as leading companies turn more to this pool of workers in a time of economic uncertainty. Companies want a more flexible talent investment but simultaneously struggle with a shortage of specialized skills. As a result, competition to win over contingent talent is becoming increasingly difficult.

Companies at any point in the supply chain can leverage contingent workers as a strategic advantage, but they need to differentiate themselves so that their brand as an employer is uniquely attractive to contingent workers. Otherwise, they will lose top contingent talent to competitors inside and outside their industries. HR and operations leaders must take time to understand these workers’ preferences, invest in organizational changes, and build a sustainable pipeline of contingent talent for their companies to get ahead.

how will you adapt your talent recruitment strategy?

It’s time to rewrite your employee value proposition (EVP) to incorporate the preferences of contingent workers. This article demonstrates how HR and operations leaders in manufacturing and logistics can stand out to this community of talented individuals, each seeking contingent roles to fulfill their unique goals.

new developments in the contingent labor market

The pandemic has forced a realignment of the global workforce, driving workers from failing companies and shrinking industries to new roles and alternative types of work. Meanwhile, companies in growth sectors are optimising the ways in which they attract and acquire new talent.

Companies of all sizes are increasing their use of contingent talent significantly as a result. In our 2021 talent trends report, Randstad Sourceright found that conversions to temporary roles rose to 22% in 2021. The average share of contingent workers will continue to grow as well, reaching 24% in 2022 and 29% in 2030, Staffing Industry Analysts reports. 

Still, identifying and acquiring the right talent remains one of the biggest challenges in manufacturing and related industries, often driven by negative worker perceptions. In that regard, your HR and operations recruitment teams are driving your company’s success, based on their leaders’ ability to adapt to a more fluid global workforce and economy.

This is especially important for larger manufacturing, logistics, and automotive companies, which need contingent workers to manage production fluctuations. Contingent talent is a highly effective way to address growing skills deficiencies, improve costs, and quickly access specialised talent in these and other related industries as well.

Despite skills shortages and growing competition over contingent talent, you too can benefit from this growing trend among workers—so long as you have their own unique goals in mind when you craft your value proposition to recruit them.

what do contingent workers want?

Generally, contingent workers seek the same personal benefits permanent employees seek in a job. A common sense-approach that prioritises the well-being of contingent workers is essential, in that sense.

But contingent work is often more than a means to an end for these workers. There are dozens of career-oriented reasons that might drive workers to choose contingent roles. You must determine how their motivations align with your own company goals.

For example, contingent work offers job continuity when a person has been laid off. Workers can gain hands-on experience with emerging digital tools as manufacturers and similar companies digitally transform. Increasingly, contingent roles also align with apprenticeships as well.

You should start by assessing the impact your EVP might have on contingent workers considering work with your company. Like all workers, contingent team members want to feel valued—that they are part of the team, even though their roles are different than permanent staff on paper. As SAP describes:

The more critical the use of contingent workers becomes, the more employers need to consider them when addressing engagement and cultural concerns for the rest of their workforce. While it may be easier to think that every contingent will be leaving too soon to reap any benefits from development efforts, businesses need to readjust their perspective.

SAP News, “What Matters Most to Your Contingent Workers”

In manufacturing, contingent workers often switch jobs when offered only a small raise. But a higher hourly rate sometimes isn’t the most attractive “benefit” for contingent workers. Training opportunities, family support, and even a pleasant work atmosphere are in demand but are not always available to workers in contingent roles. They can have a uniquely strong appeal to these candidates as a result.

reinforce your EVP with what matters most to contingent talent

 You should therefore identify what is most valuable to contingent workers in the roles for which you need them. Start by asking essential questions about these workers, such as:

  • Are the “benefits” we offer attractive options for contingent workers in our industry?
  • Which is desirable: competitive pay, career development, or opportunities for permanent work?
  • When recruiting, what is our company mission’s impact on our contingent talent “brand”?
  • How can we improve our “brand” and cultivate our own community of contingent workers?

The bottom line: If contingent workers are an essential part of your business, you shouldn’t regard them as only temporary labor. Adopting a stronger EVP for contingent talent and developing a more nuanced approach to recruitment can help.

5 things you can do to start attracting contingent talent

Let’s take a closer look at the most important factors for attracting contingent talent. We’ll examine how these factors influence your EVP and what you can do to act upon them. In time, you can build a more resilient contingent recruitment model, even as individual contingent workers arrive into and depart from your ranks.

1. provide opportunities for career growth

Competitive wages are the most direct career benefit you can offer contingent workers. But wages are not the only competitive factor in this area. Skills development and advancement opportunities within your ranks are distinguishing factors that can attract valuable talent over your competitors.

For example, popular education programs often don’t provide workers with industry skills. This is especially true in the manufacturing, logistics, and automotive industries, where specialized skills are required. Your company can both prepare talent for the roles for which you employ them and provide them with practical training that will help them build their careers long term.

As these and other industries transform—with digitization, for example—upskilling and reskilling your permanent workers is critical. Related training can become more than an investment in your internal teams. Providing these opportunities to contingent workers fulfil your internal requirements while building a more attractive contingent brand.

2. offer flexible hours

Already, one-quarter of global workers want flexible schedules to accommodate a work-life balance, and more than one-third claim to prefer a hybrid schedule, our 2021 talent trend survey revealed. Workers who care for loved ones, who are pursuing higher education, or who work multiple jobs all can benefit. As a result, 54% of human capital leaders view flexible working arrangements as important to talent attraction.

3. prioritize health and wellness

It’s common for companies to offer health and wellness benefits to permanent employees but not to contingent workers. Yet, 62% of working-age adults across the globe claim a wellness program is extremely important to them, regardless of their type of employment.

In 2019, Google began requiring its HR partners to provide healthcare and other benefits to their contingent workers in response to those workers’ demands. Google observed that gig workers in general “are becoming disgruntled ... and often their top concern is not having access to the benefits that full-time employees enjoy,” SHRM reports. Offering some degree of health benefits can therefore distinguish you from competitors.

4. accommodate family needs

Like permanent employees, contingent workers are spouses, parents, and caregivers in their personal lives with unique familial requirements. Our 2021 analysis revealed most human capital leaders (59%) believe a “family-first culture” is a strong employee value proposition as a result.

Providing greater flexibility at the workplace—adjusting their at-work hours, for example, or allowing workers to answer their mobile phones on the job—can help. Upon building a broader culture of understanding within your company, you can advertise those benefits to the contingent workforce community.

5. create a pleasant work atmosphere

According to Randstad’s own research, a pleasant work atmosphere is a key motivator for contingent workers. It is an especially attractive quality for younger workers, who value a pleasant work environment more often than job security when seeking contingent work, our research finds. Employers can advertise this aspect alongside the other benefits they extend to contingent workers. 

getting started: transforming your contingent labor program to attract today’s talent

It’s time to elevate the HR function within your company to meet the expectations of contingent workers. Creating a long-term plan gives you access to a global pool of talented workers. Best of all, investing in these strategies now puts you at the forefront of economic recovery and progress within your industry.

Randstad is the world leader in the HR services industry. With 60 years of experience, our close professional relationships and expertise span multiple continents and industries. Contact us today or download our practical contingent recruitment checklist to start improving your engagement with contingent talent and building a robust talent community.