Why Your Employee Experience Initiatives Should Include Contingent Workers

  • Author: Melanie Haniph

Contingent workers such as independent contractors, consultants, and temps are likely already a part of your organization’s workforce. Though they aren’t on regular payroll and your benefits plans, they can impact your workplace, culture, and overall competitive advantage.

As you continue to design and implement employee experience (EX) initiatives for your organization, it’s critical to include your entire workforce, including those not formally classified as employees.

Why Contingent Workers are so Important Right Now

Amid the pandemic and the ongoing Great Resignation, organizations are grappling with continued uncertainty and challenges in attracting talent. Contingent workers fill the gap left by departing employees and provide project-specific support to existing employee teams. 

Since it’s anyone’s guess when the current job market will improve for employers, the contingent workforce will likely continue to provide much-needed talent to organizations struggling to hire in tough times. In a recent Ardent Partners report, 82 percent of businesses said they expected to increase their use of contingent labor in the next 12 months.

Contingent workers aren’t just for tough times. Today’s contingent workers also provide specialized skills and expertise you might not have had access to during normal business conditions. This may help to explain why, according to a study by TLNT and Aptitude Research, 80 percent of companies rely on contingent workers.

How to Include Contingent Workers in Your EX Initiatives

Contingent workers work side by side with your other employees and perform work ranging from the strategic to the everyday. Therefore, your EX initiatives shouldn’t exclude them. Instead, you should offer contingent workers a positive experience filled with transparent communication and access to the people and resources that will help them add the most value. 

Here are three ways you can incorporate contingent workers into your EX efforts:

Add contingent workers to relevant communication loops

Contingent staff working on the same teams as regular employees need access to much of the same information to be effective. But if they aren’t included in email distribution lists or on team Slack channels, they can be left out of important updates and become disconnected from the team. When this happens, these workers can miss out on critical information affecting their performance. They can also feel excluded and undervalued, motivating them to seek work elsewhere.

To include contingent workers in important communications, you can do the following:

  • Invite them to staff meetings
  • Include them in internal communications
  • Involve them in activities where they can connect with others

Align employee and non-employee people management practices

In some organizations, employees are managed by HR and contingent workers by the procurement or purchasing department. No matter where they’re managed, you should strive to align processes for onboarding, communicating, and managing each individual’s workflow. This is an area where company managers can play a critical role. By ensuring each team member has the necessary tools and guidance, managers can help to offer a positive employee experience to all individuals, regardless of their classification.

Create pathways for potential longer-term employment

Occasionally, there will be opportunities to transition contingent workers into employee roles, either as replacements or adds to staff. To ensure contingent workers know about potential opportunities, create clear processes for them to apply for open positions. For example, you might give contingent staff access to internal job postings, so they have priority over external applicants. In addition, to ease the transition for those individuals you ultimately hire, make sure they have solid onboarding to help them successfully make the jump to employee status.

Contingent workers play a critical role in filling talent gaps and bringing hard-to-find skills into your organization. They may also become your next generation of employees. To support higher performance and engagement, offer an employee experience that considers the needs of both contingent and traditional employees.

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