Companies spend countless hours and resources every year to ensure that employees feel appreciated, understood, and even celebrated. Why? The answer is simple: workers who feel that their efforts are recognized bring better results. Today however, with increasing workplace flexibility and ever-tightening budgets, companies are hiring fewer full-time employees and relying more on the contingent worker. Companies do not always spend the same time and energy to make these pseudo-employees feel valued. This non action may begin to pose a risk for companies who rely on this unique, outsourced talent.
Today, in the United States, according to Forbes, roughly 40% of U.S workers are considered a contingent worker. This includes anyone without a standard full-time job arrangement: freelancers, standard part-time workers, small business owners, company contract workers, independent contractors, as well as those working with temp agencies. Just ten years prior (in 2005), this percentage rested at 30%. Some experts propose that a free-agent nation is the future of the US economy.
For many contingent workers, not having the security of a traditional W-2 job means less access to private health insurance and higher reliance on public assistance. However, freelancers and contract workers often place high value on their freedom, flexible schedule, and autonomy. Some experts suggest that companies take the “arms-length embrace” approach to maintaining relationships with freelancers. This involves ensuring contingent workers receive an appropriate amount of credit and inclusion while remaining autonomous. This can involve something as simple as an annual appreciation dinner. In the long run, this relational strategy will pay off for their businesses.
According to Workforce Management, business executives cite “quality of work” as their primary concern with the usage of contingent workers. However, by maintaining transparency and treating the contingent workers with decency and respect, companies can benefit from new ideas and fresh creativity. Simply treating contingent workers as “hired help” will prevent them from becoming truly invested in the work and quality can suffer.
Bigger questions for the future loom as the contingent worker population grows. Will public assistance and social services need to become more available as fewer workers are able to rely on private insurance and other benefits? Will companies slowly phase out the traditional 9-5 worker and rely solely on free-agent experts?
Firms looking to find contract workers (and treat them right!) can sign up for workhoppers.com and Get Matched directly with the right talented freelancers in their city.