7 Best Practices for a Scalable Contingent Labor Workforce Program

By MBO Partners | December 1, 2022

Team made up of employees and independent professionals

Key Points

A blended workforce, combining full-time and independent talent, offers strategic opportunities for business growth.

It’s not unusual for a company to start small when integrating independent talent into its teams.

To the greatest extent possible, initial forays into blending the workforce need to be designed with an eye toward pan-enterprise expansion.

A blended workforce, combining full-time and independent talent, offers strategic opportunities for business growth. Staffing flexibility, the ability to compete for in-demand skills, and improved speed to market are some of the results that can be achieved with a well-integrated contingent labor program.

It’s not unusual for a company to start small when integrating independent talent into its teams. Whether the initiative starts as an idea of a few hiring managers or is intentionally launched as a pilot before designing an enterprise-wide program, scalability is key. To the greatest extent possible, initial forays into blending the workforce need to be designed with an eye toward pan-enterprise expansion.

To implement a contingent labor program that gives managers across the company access to pre-vetted expert talent, consider these best practices.

1.  Make the Decision as Soon as Possible

Even when scalability is being considered, adjustments may still be needed to shift a localized program to one that can expand across the company. It’s easier to make such adjustments early, before processes and procedures that would need to be changed to grow the program become fully embedded into workflows.

2.  Your Contingent Labor and Business Strategies

There was a time when hiring contingent labor was wholly tactical, for example backfilling someone on leave of absence, augmenting staff to meet seasonal customer demands, or adding to a team for a one-off role. This began to change before the Great Realization and has accelerated since then. Independent talent today is integral to a blended workforce, which in many business sectors is a key component of competitive advantage. Aligning your contingent labor workforce program with company goals and strategies can make a significant difference to achieving business goals.

3.  Build Strong from the Start

Think through your entire talent lifecycle.

  • Where are you finding independent talent?
  • How are you vetting them?
  • What is your onboarding program like?
  • How do you ensure you stay in compliance with labor regulations?

Establish a good foundation for program growth that will work at the enterprise level. As soon as possible, establish clear processes to build and hire from a talent network of skilled and pre-vetted independent professionals

4.  Go with the Right Technology

Technology is key to creating a solid foundation that can accommodate program growth. Use a reliable platform, either self-service or third party, to help make the engagement process transparent and compliant, track time and deliverables accurately and efficiently, and offer a centralized payment system.

5.  Create an Online Resource for Hiring Managers

To ensure that all the information needed to hire contingent labor is in one place, form a multidisciplinary team of experts across the company to build an internal knowledge base for hiring managers. Include functions like HR, Legal, Procurement, and Corporate Strategy to create a 360-degree resource consistent with company culture. Roll it out to managers through meetings that walk them through search and hiring processes. Continue to support managers by maintaining the site as your program scales.

6.  Treat Your Talent Like Prospects and Customers

Take a leaf from Marketing’s page to recruit into and maintain your talent network. Want to find professionals with specific skill sets? Create multipoint promotional campaigns to attract the right independent professionals. Spotlight the opportunities your company offers for contingent labor on social media. Also, consider offering referral incentives to employees who bring talent to the network. Want to keep your valued independents engaged and eager to keep working with the company? Stay in communication with them to continue building relationships. For example, regularly share upcoming contract opportunities, offer thought leadership about growing their own businesses, spotlight hiring managers around the company and reviews from other talent who have worked for the company.

7.  Manage the Program as a Community

Both sides of your program need ongoing support. Hiring managers who are new to blended workforces and the ins and outs of engaging independent talent will need both encouragement and coaching for success. Experienced managers may need help finding more talent as they increase the roles independent professionals play on their teams. Make it easy for members of your talent network to find and pursue opportunities. To accomplish these goals and more, designate a full-time community manager to develop and nurture your program. This manager should be accountable for measurable results from the program and responsible for planning its growth.

Dedicated practice leads at MBO can help your company stay on top of market dynamics and implement the best practices for building a scalable contingent labor workforce program, including a holistic program management office and community nurturing solutions. For more questions about building your future workforce, reach out to our team of experts today.

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