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

Maths against smiling friends students talking togetherIt's a tight workforce out there, and when it comes to contingent labor management, it's critical that companies maintain the best candidates 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 the contractors satisfied?

EY (aka Ernst & Young) predicts that by 2020, one in five U.S. workers will be a member of the contingent workforce. But today's contingent workforce is vastly different than they used to be. These workers are highly trained, specialized, and in-demand professionals. And, they expect to be treated as such. In the tech industry, an average of 50% of the workforce population is composed of contingent workers. In fact, Google's temporary workforce now outnumber its full-time population.

This can create a two-tiered work environment where contractors can 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 that are surrounding them in the office they sit in. There is a fine line you have to cross 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


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 parties, 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 holiday 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.

As you can see by this map, recently provided by SHRM, sick-leave laws 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 87 percent of millennials stated that development is important in a job. 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-depth training programs, providing a mentor, or offering encouragement to pursue different development opportunities themselves and for them to write them off as business expenses


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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