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With 2020 proving the year of pivoting, agile operations and adopting a readiness to change, there has never been a more important time to make sure you’re getting the most from your contingent workforce.

Top five ways to get more from your contingent workforce;

  1. Choose the right hiring model for you
  2. Set the standard
  3. Create a community of talent
  4. Clarify the scope of roles
  5. Review and measure the impact

From freelancers, independent contractors and consultants to other third-party colleagues, employing temporary workers allows for better flexibility, both for workers and hiring managers. It lets you build a fit-for-purpose team to match the work on offer, to carefully plan your resourcing for each project – and it presents an opportunity to make contact with new, fresh, dynamic talent.

The UK’s contingent workforce was already growing long before the pandemic. Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report positioned freelance workers as “the fastest-growing labour group in the European Union, with their number doubling between 2000 and 2014.” And the experiences of 2020 have only turbo-charged this shift to contract work.  The increased number of workers released into the job market through redundancies and the pressing need for businesses to plan on a more short-term basis has made businesses more reliant on contingent workforce solutions.

But temporary contracts come with their own financial challenges and specific pitfalls. To avoid these and shore up your hiring process going into 2021, here are our five most effective tips for managing your contingent workforce and keeping control of costs while hiring the best talent currently available.

1. Choose the right hiring model

When starting to think about hiring on a contract basis, the options for finding talent can seem overwhelming. Whether you opt to source workers through an inhouse service provider, a managed service provider or pay-rolled offerings depends on your own situation. Take into consideration everything from the timeframes to which you’re working, the existing pipeline of high-calibre candidates to which you have access and the budget you have available.

By investing some time at the beginning of the process into investigating which approach best suits your business, you’ll set yourself up for success later, ensuring that you’re meeting the appropriate quantity and quality of candidates.

For hiring managers looking for guidance and assistance, our workforce management offering, Randstad can support you in creating tailored hiring strategies, bespoke to your specific needs, in order to boost your own business productivity. 

2. Set the standard

First, make sure to review your rate cards. For each location in which you’re operating, check the regional rates for each level of seniority to verify that what you’re proposing is in line with the market standard. 

As well as making the job offer more attractive, doing this will ensure you’re not paying over the odds, make for a smoother and quicker candidate recruitment process – and inform your future resource planning. 

It’s also important to include a mark-up cap on contingent workers’ contracts. Whether mark-ups are calculated for labour or materials, by setting out a maximum cost permitted, you will protect yourself from soaring overhead costs as a result of any unexpected additions.

With the new IR35 regulations coming into force in April 2021, you will also need to review your operating model to check it is compliant when it comes to off-payroll workers. The reform will mean that the responsibility for determining whether IR35 rules apply will shift to the organisation enlisting the services of the off-payroll worker. New legislation can prove tricky to navigate, so our experts are on hand to take you through the changes and give you confidence that you’re ready come the new year.

Need help understanding the complexities surrounding IR35?

3. Create the community

Having instant access to a tried and tested pool of talent that you know and trust to do the job – and do it well – will speed up your hiring process and cut recruitment costs. 

This is all about getting prepared in advance. If you do not have a strong network ready to tap into, you run the risk of filling positions with too many unknown new starters at short notice. This often leads you to hire the wrong candidate – and, ultimately, reduces your business efficiency.  

One great way of creating a private talent network is through putting a call out for referred candidates – people whose skills are known and can be verified by trusted team members. This can be further incentivised with a ‘finder’s fee’ offered to those who put forward a successful candidate. 

From here, a shared database should be developed of all new and recent candidates. This will provide you with a one-stop-shop for individuals who have been sourced, interviewed, familiarised with your business and have proved their ability to deliver results. As a result, you sidestep the need to go out looking for candidates cold – and instead fast-track yourself straight to the important step of building out the job scope. Of course, another quicker route is to tap into the talent network of a trusted recruitment partner.

4. Clarify the scope 

In the majority of cases, contingent workers will work alongside permanent colleagues to complete a project or campaign. When hiring contract staff, ensure there is no role overlap between their remit and that of already-hired permanent colleagues to avoid paying out for two people to do the same job.

This can be ensured with clear guidelines detailing the role you’re hiring for, and what exactly this will entail. Cross-reference this with existing colleagues’ job descriptions, and, through face-to-face briefings, make sure teams are familiar with precisely where one person’s responsibility starts and where another begins. 

As well as reducing the risk of paying for multiple people to carry out the same work, giving each member of staff their own explicit areas of responsibility will foster more positive working relationships among the team.

5. Review the impact

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. It is important that you audit the results generated by your contingent workforce to see what’s worked in the past – and adapt what has proved less successful.

You should look at both direct and indirect costs to you associated with the hiring process for contract workers, as well as the related revenue generated and any further outcomes (e.g. any further ongoing work secured as a result of the project/expressions of interest from new clients).

By enlisting the help of an analytics platform you’ll be able to assess metrics and what they mean for your business performance. From this investigation, you’ll be able to develop a baseline to judge what success would look like for you when hiring in the future – and tailor your recruitment of contingent colleagues to deliver the best results.

In taking into account each of these factors, you’ll set yourself up to secure the greatest return from your flexible workforce – and offer attractive, well-targeted roles to workers into 2021 and beyond.

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