Are there roles you need to fill for a short period of time that also call for specialized skills not available in your current population? Are current staff not the right fit to develop into these roles over time? Are you sure the roles will not be needed long-term to realize the business strategy? Clearly defining what work is suitable for contingent roles – and defining and monitoring the job definitions of full-time versus contingent workers as they evolve – are the first steps to ensuring you do not have an unsustainable overlap between the two. Otherwise, you might be using contingent workers improperly, creating situations likely to bring the company into the spotlight for poor workforce practices. Having a continuous understanding, even at a high level, of the work that needs to be done is critical.

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2. Let full-time employees switch to contingent work, if that suits their needs. Many companies believe individuals crave the suite of benefits that accompany base pay and that are often only accessible to full-time employees. But this framework may become less appealing as individuals’ personal lives change. Segments of your population might prefer the compensation package of a contingent worker over a typical corporate total rewards practice. In another instance, employers could better align rules to today’s realities by enabling eligible older employees to collect partial pension payouts while engaged in alternative work arrangements. Breaking down barriers to allow workers to switch from full time to contingent – and vice versa – may keep talent you might otherwise lose. And indeed, statistical modeling done with one of Mercer’s workforce strategy clients revealed that contractors who became full-time employees were more successful than campus hires, in terms of performance ratings and retention rates. Consequently, if done right, contingent can be an integrated part of a successful talent strategy.

3. Make contingent workers part of the team. Deploying contingent workers so you can squeeze them for a short duration will negatively impact your brand. Instead, look at this portion of the workforce as part of the company by including them in upskilling opportunities and social achievement events. Fair treatment of all employees, regardless of how they are employed, will carry forward well past their days as an employee and turn them into brand ambassadors. As an example, a US cosmetics company used an app to engage with freelance makeup artists, sending messages and event invitations to make them feel part of the organization. The company found it easier to recruit the best freelancers as a result of this integrated approach to workforce management.
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