The contingent workforce is an ever-growing resource for organizations that want to fulfill their staffing requirements, yet many organizations are still struggling to implement successful contingent workforce management programs.
That's because contingent workforce management is complex. It’s not something that can simply be passed over to a company’s HR department and managed on a spreadsheet.
It requires some basic knowledge of the contingent category, an understanding of vendor management and the use of technology to underpin the entire program.
With the above in mind, we have created this page to give you all of the information you need to understand exactly what contingent workers are, why contingent workforce management is complex and what you need to implement a successful contingent workforce management program.
The contingent workforce is a pool of non-employee workers who are hired by an organization on an on-demand or project-by project basis. These workers are not considered employees of a company. Instead, they work under a contract or on a temporary basis.
Unlike permanent employees, contingent workers are only with an organization for the continued existence of the job at hand - whether that be completing a specific project or working for a predetermined period of time.
Once this short-term engagement is completed, a contingent worker then moves onto a new job with a different organization.
The contingent workforce category is made up of a variety of workers, including independent contractors, freelancers, consultants and temporary workers. However, the contingent workforce can be separated into two main categories; temporary workers (temps) and independent contractors:
Temporary workers are typically employed through a staffing agency, places within your organization to fill specific staffing requirements you have. They generally work for a business for a predetermined period of time to meet seasonal demands, fill temporary positions or to help companies scale up rapidly.
The term independent contractor is an umbrella term for different types of workers, such as freelancers, consultants and gig workers. Independent contractors, who are classified as self-employed and not placed within a business by a staffing vendor, are usually hired to work on projects or to perform a defined set of deliverables and deadlines. They are able to work from where and when they want, and are generally experts in the specific field they are working in.
The management of the contingent category is complex.
Any department or team manager who oversees a non-employee workforce simply must understand contingent workforce management if they are to optimize their program and realize true ROI for their organization.
Here are some statistics on why organizations must focus on contingent workforce management:
When building an internal contingent workforce, compliance is crucial. Companies must comply with local regulations and laws, making sure not to misclassify their contingent workers as contingent when lawmakers would see them as employees.
This can be difficult, because the difference between a contingent worker and a traditional employee isn’t always clear and classification laws vary in each country, state and even city.
There are three important factors that distinguish the difference between contingent workers and employees:
To ensure you are properly classifying your contingent workers, most jurisdictions will have online tests. Performing these tests for contingent workers can help companies to determine whether a worker falls under the employee or contingent category.
Utilizing contingent workers can provide organizations with considerable advantages and benefits. There are a few reasons why companies opt to use talent from the contingent workforce, and we’ve listed just a few of the key reasons here.
Access to hot skills: Acquiring top talent is more competitive than it has ever been before. Organizations are now contending with their competition to access in-demand talent from a small pool of workers. Using contingent workers is a great way for organizations to navigate the skills gap and hire hot skills for immediate positions.
Lower workforce costs: To attract full-time employees companies must spend money on benefits and other incentives that help them to attract and retain the top talent. By using contingent workers, however, companies only need to pay non-employee workers for the work they actually do.
Increased flexibility: The use of contingent workers gives companies the ability to assess company needs on an ongoing basis. Whether an organization needs expertise on a short-term basis or seasonal workers during a peak season, the contingent workforce gives companies the capability to immediately meet their workforce targets.
As the hiring of contingent workers increases, so does the requirement for staffing agencies which companies use to improve how they source and engage temporary workers.
A staffing agency works on behalf of companies, and job seekers, to match talented temporary workers to the skills and experience required for a specific position. Staffing agencies are usually specialized to specific industries, geographic areas or job categories,
Typically, temp workers are employees of staffing agencies. That means they are paid directly by the agency and not by the organization. Instead, the organization pays the agency a “markup”, which is a payment to the agency for its services on top of the wages it pays the staff members.
Partnering with a staffing agency is about choosing the right vendor who can place the correct non-employee workers, in the right company positions at the right time and price point. For most companies, staffing agencies will be an important component of their contingent workforce management program.
When choosing a staffing agency to work with, keep the below questions in mind:
Managing a contingent workforce is complex. It needs to be a company-wide initiative, in which hiring managers are all using the same vendors, at the same rates and sourcing the right non-employee workers that truly help your business to grow.
This isn’t an easy program to implement, and many companies are left with issues such as:
For an organization to build a successful contingent workforce management program, they must be able to increase visibility into their program. That means using technology to manage both non-employee workers and the staffing agencies they use to source them.
Our next section will explain more about how a vendor management system (VMS) will significantly improve contingent workforce management.
Despite the above complications, most organizations with smaller contingent workforce spend (anywhere from $1m to $10m) are still using manual spreadsheets, in-house databases or Sharepoint-like websites to manage their contingent workforce.
This is simply ineffective - and where a vendor management system will help.
A VMS is a cloud or web-based platform that acts as a mechanism for an organization to procure and manage its non-employee workforce. It’s a software platform that supports a company in structuring and optimizing every process related to contingent workforce management.
By automating every process in contingent workforce management and consolidating all vendors and information into one centralized location, a vendor management system significantly improves how you manage each step in the contingent workforce management process from sourcing, hiring, tracking and invoicing non-employee workers.
This leads to better visibility into your program, significant cost savings, improved process efficiencies, and contingent workforce compliance.
These technologies were previously only designed for enterprises with incredibly high contingent workforce program spend.
Conexis VMS has changed that. We have developed the very first vendor management system designed to automate and consolidate contingent workforce programs for organizations with smaller non-employee budgets.
We had all the traditional contingent workforce issues that large enterprise companies have, however, we struggled to find a VMS provider that could give us a technology solution within our budget and we felt could attend to our needs properly. Conexis has been a godsend since we implemented it 5 years ago. We now have full visibility to our entire workforce and access to all of our data.
Director of Procurement, North American Pharmaceutical Company
With a diverse set of client needs from high to low volume, we needed a VMS system that we could market to our lower volume clients that still could provide everything that our clients, suppliers and we as the MSP needed. Conexis fit the bill perfectly for us and it is now our go-to VMS system in North America and across Europe.
SR. VP of Delivery, Global MSP Provider
I have used a lot of VMS systems over the last ten years and I can honestly say that Conexis is the easiest and simplest to use VMS’ of all of them. We are now rolling Conexis out across Europe. Please don’t change!
Senior Account Manager, US Managed Service Provider
Conexis was able to get us up and running so fast and at no cost. We have a lot of unique requirements but that didn’t impact the timeline or the budget. Just a great experience all around.
Senior Procurement Manager, Global Beauty Products Company
We have under $5M in spend on contract labor. We looked at many VMS providers, but the cost was crazy. We had given up until we came across Conexis. They set us up and had us running in a few weeks with little cost. The license fees are very reasonable as well.
Procurement Director, Global Pharmaceutical Manufacturer
"Conexis VMS has helped put our contractors in one consolidated place - giving us visibility and control over our temporary workers from agencies, and enabling us to have more predictability and oversight of our costs."
Melie Matifat, Vice President, People & Culture, Intelcom Express
We have been using Conexis for years now, I think one of their first customers. When we started with Conexis we were looking to run an RFP, but after a meeting and demo, we knew Conexis was the perfect fit for our organization. It had the functionality we needed and their client-centric culture was an important deciding factor, They didn’t let us down.
HR Director, Global Pharmaceutical Company
"Conexis VMS has been specifically developed to help small and medium-sized enterprises to automate and improve their entire contingent management process, no matter how small or large their non-employee program is."
John Clark, Conexis VMS