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HCMWorks Insights

Tactics for Managing Your Contingent Workforce During Covid-19

Posted by Julia Fournier on 26 May 2020

There’s no question that throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, clear and transparent communication is paramount.  Companies have been challenged with unprecedented emergency measures that require them to stay-informed, pass on new safety information to employees, and ensure everyone in their workforce or on their property is safe.

If you operate an essential service you may have been working through the last few weeks dealing with new health and safety rules or guidelines such as, the allocation of personal protective equipment, changed hours of operation, modified work processes and more. And, if you’ve seen your office closed because of Covid, you may have found a new way to keep operating with a 100% remote workforce. 

The key to reducing risk, and keeping the wheels of your company turning, is communication, both with your permanent remote employees and with your contingent workforce, consultants, freelancers, and SoW contractors.

In an article, ‘Engaging Your Contingent Workforce During Covid-19’, Ernst & Young provides some helpful advice, for ensuring open communications with contingent workers and for talent management.

Work With Your MSP

One recommendation is to ensure an open dialogue with your Managed Service Provider. The goal is to effectively and quickly transfer information about safety and changing workforce requirements to the agency, so that they can respond accordingly. Don’t forget to communicate with these external strategic partners. They can be very helpful managing the situation.

Tip 1 - “Work with your agencies to create appropriate expectations for health and safety, engagement suspensions, recall opportunities, and what your demand forecast for external labor will be in the short and near terms.”

Establish Communication Channels

The Ernst Young article also recommends utilizing your VMS software to establish formal communication channels. Your software may have built-in features for real-time messaging that could be better than standard email. Through this crisis, information will be constantly updated, so you need to establish your system for communicating with your contractors and stick to it. Confusion over where to go to get the latest updates could put people at risk and jeopardize your operations.

Tip 2 - “Leverage vendor management systems as formal communication channels. 

Systems like Beeline and SAP Fieldglass have channels for real-time communications such as email accounts, alerts to dashboards and time card banner notifications.”

Optimize Talent Supply

Another aspect of Covid is the effect on headcount and workforce demand. With the new reality sinking in, C-suite executives and business owners are revising short-term strategic plans, looking at cash flow, reforecasting revenue, re-evaluating projects, etc. The fall-out is how this all impacts staffing. Global News reported the US Jobless Rate hit 14.7% in April, and in Canada over 7 million people have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.  

Over the coming months as businesses find a new way forward, optimizing the workforce will be a priority. Does a business increase their contingent workforce to gain the advantage of scalability and flexibility in a higher risk environment? How has the talent pool changed given increased numbers of contingent workers? This could be the time to acquire talent to fulfill gaps in your organization that have been problematic in the past.

Ernst & Young suggests focusing on integrated talent planning when shaping your new workforce strategy.

Tip 3 - “Focus on temp-to-permanent jobs in the near future to balance new headcount with talent with respect to cost concerns and leverage additional talent pool workers for future hiring needs.”

This health crisis is all about people. How to keep people safe, save lives, and keep the economy turning at the same time. Your workforce is likely made up of both permanent and contingent workers. Make sure that you put communication channels in-place for your contingent workers and strategic partners. Your MSP can help you navigate the perils and evaluate an up-side with respect to talent acquisition.

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Tags: Workforce Management, Independent Contractors

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