Is your flexible work culture forgetting your contractors?

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The need to recruit high-quality talent is essential to a company’s competitiveness in the market. The needs of that talent—regardless of how they are employed—have changed in recent years. Today, workers want more flexibility (this means work location, hours and anything that impacts how work gets done) and a voice in how they perform that work. This is a movement that’s been catapulted into the top of every organization’s strategy because of the pandemic, but it’s been coming for many years.

When the pandemic hit the U.S., companies scrambled to create work-from-home arrangements for their full-time employees. It took this event for many to realize how many contingent resources they also had onsite—ones they had to plan for differently in some cases due to the nature of that relationship.

As of 2018, one in five jobs in America is being held by a contingent worker. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. What’s more, a 2019 Mercer study found 79% of executives expect that contingent and freelance workers will “substantially replace full-time employees.” Developing a long-term contingent workforce strategy that meets a worker’s needs is no longer a to have. It’s imperative to a company’s success.

But because a contractor’s employer of record isn’t the company at which they perform the work, many organizations struggle with how this labor category could work from home. Access, for one, became an issue for companies, especially in the financial and healthcare industries, because they couldn’t allow non-employees to log into critical internal systems from home. 

Additionally, many contractors don’t receive paid time off from their employers so when they were, for example, sent home because a positive COVID case was identified onsite, they risked not being paid because they couldn’t work.

These examples have caused many organizations to rethink how they can offer flexibility to contingent workers who are asking for and, in many cases, requiring of future work. If not, they may not be able to attract or retain top talent.

If you’ve determined you want to offer flexibility to your contingent labor and are concerned with the “how,” there are a few places to start. If there are legal considerations around access, to change work hours or perform work offsite, talk to your legal and IT departments. Review supplier contracts and, if necessary, renegotiate those contracts based on the changing market.

You can also look at any changes to your employee’s compliance requirements that may have been enacted during the pandemic and extend those to your contingent labor. This goes for training, performance management and other education full-time employees have received during the pandemic that allows them to be more successful wherever they work.

Finally, companies across all industries are going through digital transformations to respond to future workforce needs. As these transformations happen and new technologies are implemented, consider the impact on your contingent labor.

According to Harvard Business Review, “In today’s rapidly changing business environment, companies that rely solely on full-time employees are finding they have neither the skills nor the agility to sustain success.”

Having a happy, engaged talent community connected to your brand—regardless of how they are employed—that feels listened to and empowered will only help all parties to be more successful in the future.

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