Integrating Contingent Workers into Workforce Planning

On day 1 of the ATC Contingent Workforce Conference, ‘The Idea Exchange’ general session included a 20 minute discussion hosted by Darren Morris from CXC Global. The focus?

Integrating your Contingent Workers into your Workforce Planning.

It was an open discussion, featuring representatives from the ATO, Lion, RMIT, the mining industry, and many more…

Firstly…

  • It’s almost easier for the workforce to introduce a permanent worker, than a contingent worker, for one organisation. Easier to shift internal resource around rather than try to introduce a contingent or gig worker. From a compliance, control & risk standpoint, it can be prohibitive for some organisations to bring in gig talent. For these companies, it’s the true ‘gig’ or freelance workers who are harder to hire (for the above reasons) – e.g. content editing requirement, for 3-4 hours across 3 consecutive days, every couple of months. This is very different from contractors who are engaged, for example, for a couple of years to deliver work of a longer-term, strategic nature – more in-depth projects, which also require knowledge workers.

Then this…

  • Other organisations find themselves in the opposite situation – where it’s more flexible to bring in someone on a shorter term contract rather than try to introduce a worker to perm head count. This provides more flexibility to the business. Conversely, these organisations often want to introduce some of these contract workers to the permanent workforce, but instead find themselves allocating them to projects across the business.

Another perspective…

  • RMIT people opted in to take a shift from lecturers, so all their lecturers put have access to a common board of what’s available, and they opt in to take the options available to them. If they have an hour spare, they can self-nominate to do some additional work.

And another viewpoint…

  • Use of informal networks is on the rise too: word of mouth remains powerful. That is, engaging contingent workers they know can actually do the work. Hence, some organisation would prefer to rely on these informal networks rather than on other systems to help them source contingent workers.

Then this came up…

  • What about the targets for percentage of permanent employees, or reducing permanent employees? In the mining industry, which is reliant and reactive to the market – the Aussie dollar, and the price of oil & coal – where, in addition to a high level of risk, there’s also the need to maintain apprenticeships as, if they slow this process down, they won’t have talent in 4 years’ time. Hence, they need to build the workforce to factor in future activity & business levels. There’s too much risk, if the majority of the workforce are permanent: if the market tanks, the loss is too drastic.

And finally….

  • Mandate to look at the workforce shift to contingent: in government, it’s very difficult to engage contingent given workforce caps.  Also a lot of scrutiny of spend on contractors. Delicate balance of how much do they rely on CWs and aim to introduce them to the permanent talent pool.
  • Australia – one thing that’s unique, professionals are increasingly choosing not to take a permanent job. Who would be happy to take that person in a different context, rather than permanent…. given the flexibility to be able to do that, there’s a keenness to be able to engage those workers.

What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below.

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