The Benefits Equation: How to Attract and Retain the Contingent Workforce You Need

Jennifer Adam
Jennifer Adam
The Benefits Equation: How to Attract and Retain the Contingent Workforce You Need

It's a tight workforce out there, and when it comes to contingent labor management, it's critical that companies maintain the best talent to work on their projects. However, if your contingent population is large, how can you balance a budget, pay your contingent labor a competitive rate, and provide benefits that will keep these workers satisfied?

 According to SIA, contingent workers represented 35% of our nation's workforce in 2020, the last time this study was conducted. Today's contingent workforce is vastly different than it used to be many years ago. These workers are highly trained, specialized, and in-demand professionals, and they expect to be treated as such. In some industries, the contingent worker population is even higher than 35%, so they especially expect to be treated the same as the full-time employees they work with.

These workforce populations can sometimes create a two-tiered work environment where contingent workers get stuck feeling like an outsider. And, since they are not employed by the company directly, their benefits and pay can be less than the people surrounding them in the office they sit in. There is a fine line organizations have to navigate in order to balance what will make the talent want to return, but also maintain the flexibility and cost savings that make a contingent workforce appealing to your company.


How to Attract and Retain the Contingent Workforce You Need

There are certain strategies your company can implement to ensure you are attracting the best contingent workers and keeping them at your company, too. 


Make Them Feel at Home

Developing a formal onboarding structure for new contract hires is vital to making them feel like they are truly a part of the company. Try not to exclude them from announcements that may affect them, company events, or office meetings.

If you expect them to act like an employee and represent your company in a positive way, fill them in on your company culture and strategy. Treat them as you would a full-time employee. This is becoming more and more the norm now; if you don't lean in, you will be left behind. 


Listen to them

Poll your population. What are they looking for? What can you negotiate? For example, you may want to offer some overtime pay after so many hours worked. Or possibly, you can look into providing cost-effective healthcare plans exclusively for your contingent workforce.

If you obtain your contingent workers through an agency, offer them supplements to what the agency may be providing to make coming back to your company look appealing when their specialized skills are needed again. 


Pay Attention to Employment Laws State-to-State

Lawmakers are paying attention to the growing contingent population, and states are establishing their own rules and regulations for contingent workers. One significant benefit that has been making waves recently is Sick Leave Laws which can vary from state to state. And, we are just starting to implement these laws, so be prepared for potential complications as lawmakers will be pressured to stay competitive and keep workforces in their states. 

It gets even more complicated with contingent workers. If you have a contingent workforce that spans across the country, are you going to create a standard for a benefit like Paid Sick Leave? If you create a standard, are you creating a standard that applies to all the states that your contingent workforce works in?

Evaluate yourself against your competitors. Are you going to hold steady implementing the benefits in locations where your contingent workers may have no benefits whatsoever?

The most common paid sick leave accrual rate is one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. As with any benefit, you must consider how you will handle this added cost.


Provide Training and Advancement Opportunities

Professional development is as important to contingent workers as it is to full-time employees. A majority of the contingent workforce is made up of millennials - and 72% of millennials say they value opportunities for career advancement. If you want to keep a contingent worker in your talent pool, you should provide opportunities for these workers to learn and grow. This could be in the form of in-depth training programs, providing a mentor, or offering encouragement to pursue different development opportunities themselves. 

Until there are stricter federal laws on contingent workforce benefits, it's up to the employer to make the call on what benefits are offered while staying compliant with state and locals laws. With many are claiming the future of the workforce is contingent, staying competitive and getting a grasp on what that looks like for your organization is getting more important by the day. 


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