Whether you have one contractor or ten thousand of them, the likelihood is that your contingent workforce is here to stay.

In fact, the proportion of people you engage to do work who aren’t your own permanent employees is almost certainly going to increase in the future.

There’s a mountain of evidence pointing to this. My LinkedIn newsfeed will never run dry of analyst reports (such as from SIA, Everest and NelsonHall), CEO surveys (from Bain, PWC, KPMG, Mercer et al) and anecdotal proof that with each passing day the future of work becomes more flexible and less permanent than ever before.

Despite all this, I still often hear the following sorts of phrases when I meet and speak with business leaders and heads of departments, who might even be in an interim or external advisory role themselves:

  • “We need to reduce spend on contingent labour compared to last year”
  • “We’re putting a freeze on contractor hiring”
  • “We only use contractors when we can’t find someone permanent”

What excites me about this though is that all these people are still only a slight mindset adjustment away from transforming the organisation they work for.

And that’s why the title of this article asks the question: are you looking at your contingent workforce the wrong way?

The purposeful use of a brilliant contingent workforce should be celebrated for what it can bring to an organisation. What one person sees as a cost to control another might see as revenue-generation to unshackle.

Staring down a sustained skills shortage might instead become empowered talent enablement. And a contractor hire could soon be flipped from being a last resort to the first port of call whenever there’s competitive advantage at stake.

There’s a few key reasons why the contingent workforce shouldn’t just supplement your corporate strategy; it should be a key part of it.

Contingent workers hold the key to your future success

To start with one of the most obvious and practical reasons, it’s likely contingent workers are already being used (or can be used) to provide expert external perspective and advice to help your business design, develop and implement strategic initiatives - like mergers, acquisitions, digital transformation or getting new products to market.

Contingent workers are engaged to lead or contribute to mission-critical or time-sensitive tasks when internal capability and capacity doesn’t exist.

Whether you like it or not, many of the most in-demand skills may soon only be available on a contingent basis.

The experts possessing them are commonly choosing a freelance career, which nowadays offers the same security of regular income with the added benefit of choice over when, how, where and with whom they work.

Furthermore, skilled contingent workers’ power of choice now means there’s more need than ever to invest in reasons for contingent workers to want to take on your projects.

We’re finding that contingent workers’ affiliation with Expert360 is actually doing a lot of the upfront groundwork on behalf of our customers, because Experts already trust us to pay, empower, invest in them and connect them with a steady stream of interesting and high profile projects.

Some of the most progressive organisations are using contingent workers to generate increased revenue too. By deliberately using more contingent workers instead of recruiting and maintaining a permanent bench of staff, these organisations can pinpoint and deploy the specific set of skills they need in order to win and deliver client work.

It’s reducing their capital investment dramatically and turning more of the workforce into a profit centre.

Lastly, contingent workers are important vehicles for knowledge sharing and upskilling. Adding clear deliverables to train and develop permanent members of staff (or even other contingent workers) throughout or at the end of contingent workers’ projects can be a great way to maximise the lasting value of their engagement.

Every day Expert360 empowers Australia and New Zealand's #1 skilled talent network to do the best work of their lives. Please get in touch to discuss any aspect of how to best hire, engage and manage your contingent workforce.