How Contingent Workers Are Gaining Influence Over Employment

22nd Jun, 2020 | Trends, Data & Insights

When we think of the contingent workforce, we imagine the young Christmas casual or the temp that fills in at reception. These caricatures don’t inspire visions of influence and power and they certainly don’t appear as the kind of people that will have immense pull over the shape of the future. However, these workers are not only integral to keeping businesses moving but when viewed as a collective, they’re set to resculpt the entire employment landscape.

What Is The Contingent Workforce?

Far more diverse than our initial imaginings of the temp receptionist, the contingent workforce is a subsection of the broader workforce that works flexibly. This includes casuals, contractors and temps across a wide range of skill sets and capabilities.

Contingent workers may choose to work for one business at a time or make up their working schedules across a variety of employers – but they are defined by their flexibility and impermanence.

For businesses, these flexible workers solve a number of problems. From assisting in times of peak demand, covering for absent workers, lending external expertise, or allowing businesses safer, and simpler scalability, contingent workers allow businesses to improve productivity without the risk of additional permanent wages.


How Does The Contingent Workforce Generate Influence?

Today the contingent workforce makes up more than one-third of the entire AU/NZ workforce. This number is growing rapidly, and with it, the opportunity for businesses to benefit from the flexibility these workers bring. As the size and saturation of the contingent workforce grows – so too do the impacts it has on the way businesses and workers see employment.

With 163,000 new contingent workers joining the workforce in recent years, and early results from 2017 showing considerable growth in both people looking for flexible opportunities, and businesses offering them – the size of this labour pool is only set to increase.

Research shows that many senior HR Managers expect the contingent share of the workforce to grow to almost 50%. The bigger the size of the workforce and the more businesses that benefit – the more the impacts of bringing in contingent workers are amplified. In this way, the contingent workforce begins to exert greater influence over the working landscape.


What Does This Power Mean For The Future?

The impacts of this growing, flexible workforce are already beginning to manifest in a handful of ways. These considerations are integral to how flexible workers will be dealt with in future and what the landscape could look like.

– Contingent workers are changing management styles:

As more and more business engage contingent workers, they create situations where permanent and temporary staff must cooperate regularly to achieve business goals. This will force managers to reconsider the way they deal with their teams. How do you unite and motivate a team who aren’t always together?

 – Contingent workers are changing the way staff are engaged:

The more the contingent workforce grows, the more it drives development of technology that supports it. As technology gets better, more and more connections between businesses and the appropriate flexible workers will happen digitally and simultaneously – making employee engagement simpler and allowing staffing managers to focus on other aspects of their role.

  – Contingent workers are changing the quality of the contingent workforce:

With more businesses recognising the value in flexible engagements, the more they will engage the third party recruitment firms that know where to access them. Because it is in the best interests of these firms to present only the top-tier candidates, the overall pool of flexible workers will improve. The top-tier will build skills through constant engagement and the remaining talent will need to work to improve their performance to access opportunities.      

Growing at a rapid pace and picking up considerable influence, the contingent workforce is something businesses can no longer ignore. While recognising and leveraging their benefits in your business is a great first step – it’s important to understand how you will respond to the trends they are creating.