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Talent Management Recruiting & Hiring

Is Your Talent Management Ready for the Contingent Workforce?

December 11, 2014
3 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


It better be, because the contingent workforce is the fastest growing workforce segment, and that growth is showing no signs of slowing down. The Rise of the Extended Workforce Report by Accenture revealed that 20-33% of U.S. workers are freelancers, temporary workers and independent contractors. When you consider that number was at 6% in 1989, the contingent workforce is changing drastically.

Not convinced you need to get talent management ready to handle the contingent workforce? Consider these contingent workforce stats from Randstad’s Workforce 360 Study:

  • 2/3 of employers indicated they currently employ contingent workers
  • 21% of employers plan on further increasing their contracted positions over the next year
  • Throughout 2011 and 2012, the contingent workforce expanded by 25,000 jobs per month, now accounting for 8.3% of all employees

This workforce segment has arrived. Now leaders have to figure out how to manage it. First, let’s define who we’re talking about. A contingent worker is considered any worker who falls outside the normal employee status and whose employment is contingent on some additional condition. So, the traditional hourly or salaried employee who works an average 35-40 hours per week would not be part of this category.

The group includes, but is not limited to temps, contractors, part-time, interns, consultants, freelancers, outsourced workers and offshore workers. They’re diverse, they’re skilled, they’re easy on a budget but they do come with some special requirements from talent management.


Organizations looking to create a leaner workforce by hiring contingent workers can contract with a staffing firm, a recruiter an individual or use any mix of avenues. Because this workforce segment is so scattered, it is vital to track these various talent procurement avenues to ensure quality of hire and the best ROI possible. A specialized service/talent procurement system that is fully integrated with current HR systems and processes, project management and payroll will ensure the most efficient and compliant contingent talent procurement.


Yes, onboarding is a thing for contingent workers too. Given what we know about the bottom line impact of a strong onboarding program, coupled with the swift rise in this workforce segment, employers can’t afford to leave contingent workers out of the onboarding process any longer.

Again, it will fall upon the right technology to create a streamlined process out of all of these disjointed workers. Talent management will need to be armed with a simple, yet sophisticated HR solution that allows them to treat contingent workers just as they would a traditional worker in the same system. There has to be an easy way to set security definitions, assign benefits and ensure compliance. The goal is to expedite the entire process and get contingent workers producing faster, while maintaining a practical management system.


This is the area where contingent workforce management can fall apart. Compensation can get tricky with these coming, going and boomerang workers. As previously stated, there are several categories of workers that fall under the contingent workforce umbrella, and each of those categories requires a unique compensation category. In short, payroll can become a giant mess. Again, a transparent and integrated system will ensure timely and accurate compensation either through accounts payable or payroll.


Compliance can get tough when working with a workforce segment as diverse as contingent workers. HR, legal and management will have to break down a few walls and work together to ensure that each member of the contingent workforce is remaining compliant throughout the talent lifecycle. Classification, KPIs and reporting all need to be part of one, fluid process.

We’re moving toward what experts are calling a permanent, temporary workforce. That is to say this rise in the popularity of being and procuring contingent talent is slated to keep going. Workers enjoy freedoms and flexibility that traditional positions can’t offer, and employers are able to craft nimble and lean workforces. 

If you aren’t yet prepared for the unique talent lifecycle of contingent workers, you’re quickly falling behind. As the new year quickly approaches and budgets are being discussed, there is no time like now to start the discussion around beefing up talent management with the right tools and technology to optimally managed a contingent workforce.

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