With businesses struggling to find, hire, and keep skilled full-time employees in this economy of low unemployment, many have turned to contingent, or temporary, workers. Contingent workers can fill in on special projects or deliver on short-term needs.

Because of this, gig workers have never been more practical. Recent surveys show that over a third of American workers operate within the gig economy in some form or fashion, and many organizations leverage contingent labor to maintain a healthy payroll because it can be more cost-effective. Employees also benefit because contingent work allows them to enjoy a flexible work schedule.

Startups and small businesses, especially, can benefit from employees who offer a diverse set of skills and perspectives. For example, your company may only have the budget for one full-time employee, but you have immediate needs in IT, back-office administrative services, and contract law expertise. It would be nearly impossible to find such a diverse set of skills in a single person. But by hiring three contingent workers capable of addressing each of these tasks with a high level of expertise, your company benefits from specialization, rather than attempting to spread the efforts of one person too thin.

4 common mistakes

When hiring a contingent workforce, there are several considerations you need to navigate to ensure that your company is getting what it needs and that workers have what they need to do their jobs. Unfortunately, companies often encounter a few common pitfalls when hiring temporary workers. Those that know about these missteps and work to avoid them can help build quality relationships with contingent workers and keep everyone happy.

1. Vague job descriptions and tasks: One of the most common reasons contingent workers leave their jobs early is because the actual job doesn’t match the description they were given for the position. The solution is to clearly list tasks, expectations, and deliverables to ensure that workers know what is expected of them.

Another way to ensure that everyone is aligned is to sit down face to face (either digitally or in person), outline exactly what work needs to be done, and determine how it impacts your company’s mission. This tells workers what your priorities are and shows them how their jobs are contributing to the company in a meaningful way.

2. Lack of job training: Many companies who hire contingent workers don’t provide enough training or the right training for them. In fact, 40% of employers say that temporary workers should pay for their own training. If you’re going to get the final deliverables you want as efficiently as possible, everyone needs to be appropriately trained in his or her role.

That starts with managers — who should be skilled in contingent employee training. Managers often focus on processes during training, but contingent work is more about deliverables. Make sure managers are trained to make the most of gig workers so the company gets the maximum benefits. It’s your business that reaps the rewards of well-trained workers, so provide training for your contingent workers just as you would for your full-time employees.

3. Failure to show appreciation: When contingent workers make valuable contributions to your business, are you letting them know how much you appreciate those contributions — whether that’s through a pay raise or a full-time job offer? Many companies fail to do this and then lose that worker to another company.

Collect data to learn which temporary workers are making the biggest impact, then find a way to show your appreciation. With low unemployment rates, recruiters from other companies are eager to poach your most valuable employees. If you’re paying your best contingent workers below the industry median, you’re going to see a higher turnover rate. Research pay ranges on platforms like Indeed, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn to ensure that you’re compensating your contingent workforce appropriately.

4. A negative work environment: Gig workers are just like full-time employees in that they want to feel appreciated and supported in order to perform their best work. Companies that don’t have a welcoming environment or aren’t a good culture fit for contingent workers probably won’t keep them for long. They certainly won’t be able to persuade them to return when more help is needed.

More than one-third of employees have experienced some form of workplace conflict, and nearly a quarter of workers believe that conflict is often “swept under the rug.” When contingent workers come to work for you, welcome them and introduce them to the employees they’ll be working with. Include them in company activities and events. By creating an inclusive culture, you will keep contingent workers happy and gain an advocate for your company after these workers move on.

Contingent workers provide many benefits for companies that need temporary help in a variety of roles. Companies need to treat them well by defining the tasks each person will perform, managing them well, and treating them like any valued employee. This will help your company avoid some common mistakes and make the most of your contingent workforce.

If you have any questions or would like to hear about how Innovative Employee Solutions (IES) provides customized contingent workforce solutions, contact us.


Written by: Peter Limone, Chief Financial Officer of IES

Peter Limone is the chief financial officer of Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading global Employer of Record in more than 150 countries that specializes in contingent workforce solutions such as outsourced payrolling, independent contractor compliance, and contractor management services. Founded in 1974, IES has grown into one of San Diego’s largest women-owned businesses and has been named one of the city’s “Best Places to Work” for 10 years in a row.

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