Is your business culture working to harness or hamper your contingent workers?
With 41.5% of the average organisation’s workforce now made up of contingent workers, being mindful of how your culture serves all the workers in your business, is increasingly critical. (Data from Ardent Partners ‘The State of Contingent Workforce Management’, 2018-2019 report).
More organisations are undertaking cultural shifts, to better support their contingent workers. This isn’t to the detriment of permanent employees, by any stretch. Rather, it’s a shift towards greater inclusivity.
Better integration of worker types, a more open, and fluid cultural experience for all workers. In short, it’s a means of creating a more cohesive business operation, better output and productivity, and a better working experience for all categories of labour.
Keep in mind, in the era of COVID, culture is now a more complex issue. With many companies shifting to a more permanent work-from-home arrangement, it’s way more difficult to influence culture in 2020, than ever before. However, with technology enablers costing so little, and workers progressively accustomed to the new norms associated with remote working, influencing your culture need not be the major headache you perceive it to be.
Here are 5 ways you can shift your business culture, to improve the performance of your contingent workers.
Connecting, engaging, and motivating a remote contingent workforce is a challenge faced by many business managers in recent months. Businesses have quickly needed to adapt and cope with a disrupted workforce, and maintain business culture whilst people work remotely. The challenge managers now face, is how to understand contingent worker’s needs, while they’re working outside of the office; and sometimes, outside normal office hours.
Many contingent workers will relish the opportunity to work from home, enjoying flexible work hours, while others may find extended isolation oppressive. As such, managers know that to achieve the best results from their team, remotely engaging with contingent workers across the business is vital.
While it’s crucial that inclusivity efforts are supported by the CEO and line managers, actively engaging employees and contingent workers, is the most effective way to sustain a positive business culture and worker output during these uncertain times.
Inclusivity in the workforce is a journey, not a destination.
It takes time, patience, and perseverance which can be achieved through communication and education, while connecting and engaging with people as individuals, ensuring they feel a valued and important part of the team.
2. Offer More than Just the Job
Demand for flexible working arrangements has continued to increase over recent years and has become one of the biggest observable trends within the employment sector. Business culture has consequently changed, as society at large is changing the way it looks at work. While contingent employment does provide significant benefits regarding flexibility to both parties, it also presents a degree of long-term uncertainty and commitment.
This highlights the need to implement sound retention strategies for businesses who thrive off contingent workers. Providing more than just the opportunity to work with your business is an effective retention and re-engagement approach, for contingent workers. For example, offering external third-party training, or supplementary monetary rewards or recognition.
Every worker in your organisation wants to feel they are an integral part of the team, and that their input is valued: this is a critical business culture element that can positively impact your contingent workers’ performance and output. Hence, think about offering more than the job at hand.
Also, check-in regularly with your contingent labour to discuss their current work activity and ask how they are experiencing the workplace, as well as providing feedback and recognition. Building a trusting relationship between your business and your contingent workers ultimately leads to higher levels of engagement, productivity, and the likelihood of reengagement.
3. Make Technology your friend
With social distancing guidelines in place due to COVID, companies throughout the country have been forced to implement remote work practices, so they can continue to operate while ensuring the health and safety of their workers. As a result, most companies today rely more heavily than ever before on technology. The key technologies we’ve seen to enhance business culture, while of great benefit to contingent workers, include:
- vendor management system (VMS). This web-based software application allows companies to manage an entire contingent workforce remotely; and at the same time ensures the contingent workers feel connected, engaged, and part of the team.
- A virtual private network (VPN) provides a secure communication channel through public internet connections and can be a secure alternative to emails and texts.
- Zoom meetings between contingent workers and their supervisors – either one-on-one or as a group conference call – allows virtual interaction with co-workers whenever in-person meetings aren’t possible.
Combining the right technology with the right people creates a positive business culture and an informed and unified workforce. During this time of COVID and isolation, technology isn’t just your friend, it’s your lifesaver.
4. Understand Today’s Contingent Workforce
Millennials are entering the workforce today in record numbers, and will soon make up the largest part of the total global labour force. And, they don’t always have a traditional view of the employee-employer relationship.
A 2017 study by Lovell Corporation found that 75% of millennial workers plan to start their own business and that over 70% of them want to work to support their personal interests. In the meantime, contingent working is a means to earn a living whilst keeping enough flexibility to work on their own business, concurrently.
Contingent workers are typically highly skilled specialists and are frequently hired to complete specific projects. It’s for this reason, they can reap the benefits of choosing who they work for. Therefore, it’s essential to create a business culture that attracts, engages and retains contingent workers, encouraging them to undertake multiple contracts with your company, and feel part of the team.
5. Communicate your way to a Better Business Culture
Despite technological achievements designed to help businesses overcome talent management challenges (especially during COVID), the importance of personalisation, interaction, and engagement with your contingent workers, can’t be underestimated.
Good working relationships form the cornerstone of positive business culture, particularly as the world becomes more digital. And in this context, communication is key to positive business culture and contingent workforce engagement.
So… at the beginning of the relationship, establish a clear sense of purpose, direction, support, and connectivity with your contingent labour.
Instil a detailed understanding of how each member in your contingent workforce contributes to the overall value and success of the business.
Solicit input regularly and offer transparent communications about objectives, opportunities, and challenges. Like all employees, contingent workers want, need, and appreciate honest feedback; and this is why it is so important to allocate time and resources to invest in your teams.
Talk is cheap – communication is gold!
Over the next few years, your contingent workforce is likely to become an even more important part of your company’s human capital.
Naturally, this has implications for HR and their practices.
While understanding contingent workers can feel like a moving target, the best approach seems to be an ‘inclusive’ one, following the best practices mentioned here.
Business culture is about how a company treats its workers and their experience of working in your organisation: the difference between an inclusive and an exclusive approach, is almost tangible. In the former, companies include their contingent workforce in their normal HR practices. In the latter, companies treat contingent workers as a separate group of workers, often bypassing existing HR systems and processes; and often with dire results.
As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutions, CXC is well positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce engagement. With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your engagement.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help please contact us here.