Contingent Workforce Part I – Already Bigger Than You Think

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WorkforcePyramidFor years HR has turned a blind eye to the non-employee workforce in a company. Even though some of the contingent workforce sits in cubicles adjacent to full time regular employees, they were for the most part the outsiders. Because of the fear of something called “co-employment” conservative onboard jailhouse legal advice was passed from desk to desk without many even knowing the definition of the term. I asked. Many would respond, “Well, you know… it was that Microsoft thing several years ago…“ without even knowing the cause and outcome of that huge multimillion dollar settlement. “We don’t have an issue because our contingency workers are employed through another firm.” Really? Did you know that this fact alone does not represent a true arms-length relationship? If it were not so important we could blindly go ahead with our dream world intact and only deal with the “real” employees.

A recent promotional piece from Snelling, “Trends in Staffing and Contingent Workforce Management for 2013” mentioned that approximately 16% of the average large company is a contractor or temp. This is supposedly up from 11% a few years ago, but is this a trend that represents the future? Probably not. The actual numbers are probably much higher. Also, most companies are unsure of what the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare if you prefer) means in terms of healthcare regulations and rules. Staffing companies must be nimble enough to maintain their current growth and recognize the impact of compliance with new laws. With current economic conditions as they are, it makes sense that SIA (Staffing Industry Analysts) is forecasting an estimated 6% growth in the staffing industry in 2013. With regulatory, labor, and health care costs in a state of flux while politicians decide the final outcome, there will no doubt be six months or more of uncertainty as to the outcome.

The economy seems to be recovering for the present, but so far it has been pretty much a jobless recovery. You may pick your own side to argue as to whether this is the fault of one party or the other, but when you go to bed at night are you wondering how this impacts you? If you suspect that your job could be done by a machine or outsourced, ask your doctor for a prescription for Ambien. Then when you wake up, plan for the future of your company and for your career.

CEO’s – The time to live in a vacuum about the composition of your workforce is long past. The future successes of your company (and the size of your bonus) will depend on your people. If you do not know the current percentage of contractor or temporary workers in the organization, ask your human resources experts… they won’t know the answer but they can get a list from Security of how many badges have been issued to contractors.

HR Leaders – How is that head in the sand working for you? When you talk about creating a positive culture in the organization, you are not considering that the culture involves more than the in-house full time employees. Plan for “engagement” and leave out one of the largest components of the real workers in your environment and you only have half of the horses pulling the wagon.

Employees – Wake up and smell the coffee… and remember that Starbucks has WiFi when you are forced into an unplanned job search because your function was outsourced. Of course, this only happens to other people, but just in case a “friend needs advice” decide what you would say. It’s probably good to remember the details of your advice.

Job Seekers – Are you looking for a full time job? Considering a position with a firm through one of the job shops that places contingent workers may be a more direct route to gainful employment. Anyone who has been unemployed for a lengthy period of time needs to broaden the scope of the search to include non-typical employment. There are people who have been making a career out of temping for years.

Take time to watch the video attached to this article which is an excellent presentation by Master Burnett from the Recruitfest! Conference in Boston in 2010. There is also a cameo performance by China Gorman. Yes, that’s me on the front row worshiping at the feet of the Master… pun most definitely intended. If his presentation doesn’t get you to fire a few inactive synapses in your brain toward the enormity of the problem you didn’t listen. If you don’t want to consider that current political and economic circumstances will have an impact these numbers you may as well put your head back in the sand.

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Image credit: fintastique / 123RF Stock Photo


4 thoughts on “Contingent Workforce Part I – Already Bigger Than You Think”

  1. Pingback: Contingency Workforce – The Company Dynamics » Make HR Happen by Tom Bolt

  2. Pingback: Contingent Workforce Part III – Employees and Job Seekers » Make HR Happen by Tom Bolt

  3. Pingback: Reviewing This Week on Make HR Happen – January 13 thru January 19, 2013 » Make HR Happen by Tom Bolt

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