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HCMWorks Insights

The Pros and Cons of Scaling Your Contingent Workforce

Posted by Julia Fournier on 1 Dec 2015


A strong contingent workforce is a boon for any business. Out-of-house workers benefit a business by bringing fresh perspectives and new ideas, as well as a means to be productive outside the normal paradigm of day-to-day work. For a business to take full advantage of these benefits, the offsite workforce must scale according to a company’s needs as they change over time. Freelancers are to be taken in and let go as demand warrants, but striking the balance that maximizes their talents can be a demanding goal. It is important to maintain harmony between provisional staff and in-house team members as your business grows, but new challenges will reveal themselves once freelancers and consultants take on a larger role within the company and become responsible for more aspects of how things take shape within it.

The Good

Tasks assigned to contingent workers are often small parts of a larger project. The freelancer completes their contribution and moves on to something else, sometimes a project at a different company. This work style demands a particular skill set that result in a class of worker that can complete a wide range of assignments. On top this, their schedules rarely revolve around 9 to 5, which allows them to work in a very agile fashion and pass that advantage on to your company.

A properly scaled contingent workforce is also valuable for the wide range of talents and ideas acquired from the experiences unique to a freelance background. Not anchored to any one department, provisional workers are able to move more easily through the company, allowing for a simplified transfer of knowledge and expertise between levels of management and different departments that may have never communicated otherwise. Improving means of production and streamlining procedures is a key facet of keeping a business moving forward, and freelancers often see things differently and are keen to suggest improvements not considered previously.

The Bad

Working out of house is a double-edged sword for members of the contingent workforce. While it allows them to set their own schedule and work how is best for them, the trade-off is difficulty in finding employers. This works against the employer as well, since the freelancer is likely sought for a short-term project that may be completed or expire by the time someone suitable is found. While tools are available to manage a contingent workforce, as your company grows it can become very difficult to keep track of what off-site employee is handling what part of a project, or even just keeping in touch.

Failing to properly balance between contingent and full time employees can often results in unexpected complications when a project comes to an end and several team members move on to other companies. Keeping track of who is coming or going on a weekly or even monthly basis can be a great challenge if the contingent workforce is too large compared to the permanent workers. This process can be difficult to optimize, and sudden changes in team members or abruptly vacant positions can have far-reaching consequences.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the benefits of a properly sized, well organized, and properly connected pool of freelance talent vastly outweighs the risks. Overcoming the challenges of finding the correct ratio between in- and out-of-house talent and ensuring effective communication will connect your business to an ever expanding and uniquely talented community. All signs point to an increase in the number of freelancers and professionals working from home as we move forward, and being able to recognize and properly handle the pros and cons of scaling your contingent workforce will give your company the edge it needs to succeed.

 Exploring Your Contingent Workforce Ecosystem

Tags: Contingent Workforce Management

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