Contingent Worker

A contingent worker, often referred to as a freelancer, contractor, or temporary employee, is an individual engaged by an organisation on a non-permanent basis to fulfil specific tasks or projects. These workers bring flexibility and specialised skills to the workforce, allowing companies to adapt swiftly to changing needs and demands.

What is a Contingent Worker?

A contingent worker is an individual who is employed on a non-permanent basis by an organisation. Unlike traditional full-time employees, contingent workers are hired for specific projects, tasks, or periods of time. They may work as independent contractors, temporary employees, freelancers, or consultants. 

Contingent workers do not have the same level of commitment or nor do they receive the same benefits as full-time employees, and their employment status is contingent upon the needs and demands of the organisation. Hiring a contingent worker allows companies to maintain operational flexibility and manage staffing levels more efficiently.

Examples of Contingent Workers 

Freelancers: These are self-employed individuals who offer their services to multiple clients at a time. They often specialise in a particular field such as writing, graphic design, or programming.

Contractors: Contractors are hired to complete a specific project or task within a set time frame. They may work under a contract agreement on-site or remotely, depending on the nature of the project.

Temporary Workers: Temp workers are hired for a limited duration to cover seasonal demands, special projects, or staff shortages. Temporary workers are often recruited through staffing agencies.

Consultants: Consultants are experts in a specific field who are hired to provide advice and solutions to a company's problems or challenges. They may work independently or as part of a consulting firm.

Gig Workers: Gig workers take on short-term, flexible jobs, often through a digital platform. Examples include ride-share drivers, food delivery couriers, and freelance graphic designers.

Contingent Worker vs Contract Employees

While a contingent worker and contract employee are both hired on a non-permanent basis, there are distinctions between the two:

Contingent Worker: Typically work on a short-term basis and may be engaged for specific tasks or projects. They often have more flexibility in their work arrangements and may work for multiple clients simultaneously.

Contract Employee: Are hired for a fixed period under a formal contract agreement. They may have a defined role within the organisation and may receive benefits similar to permanent employees, depending on the terms of their contract.

The Benefits of Hiring Contingent Workers 

Companies choose to hire a contingent worker for several reasons, but most especially because of the following benefits:

It’s cost effective 

Hiring a contingent worker can significantly reduce costs associated with full-time employees such as benefits, insurance, and paid time off.

It offers flexibility

Contingent workers offer businesses the flexibility to scale up or down based on project needs or market conditions. This can be particularly beneficial during peak seasons or during a downturn.

It gives you access to specialised skills

Contingent workers often possess specialised skills or expertise that may not exist within the current workforce. This can be particularly beneficial for short-term projects or specialised tasks.

It reduces risks of long-term commitment

Hiring contingent workers can reduce the risk associated with long-term hiring commitments, particularly in uncertain economic times.

It may help boost productivity

Contingent workers can be brought in to handle excess work, allowing regular employees to focus on their primary tasks, thereby increasing overall productivity.

It can serve as a test before possible full employment

Employers can use contingent working arrangements as a trial period to assess a worker's skills and fit within the company before offering a full-time position.

Its hiring process is often faster

The hiring process for contingent workers is often faster than that for full-time employees, allowing businesses to quickly respond to workload demands.

Disadvantages of Hiring Contingent Workers

While contingent workers offer flexibility and specialised skills, there are also potential drawbacks:

  • Lack of commitment: Contingent workers may not feel a strong sense of loyalty or commitment to the company as they are not permanent employees. This could potentially affect their work performance and productivity.
  • Training costs: Companies may have to invest time and resources in training contingent workers, which can be costly, especially if the worker leaves shortly after being trained.
  • Confidentiality risks: As contingent workers may work for multiple companies, there is a risk of confidential information being leaked or misused.
  • Lack of team cohesion: The constant change of contingent workers can make it difficult to build a cohesive team, which can impact team morale and productivity.
  • Legal issues: There can be legal complications related to the classification of contingent workers, such as issues related to benefits, taxes, and employment laws.
  • Quality of work: As contingent workers are often hired for a short period, they may lack the in-depth knowledge and understanding of the company's operations, which can affect the quality of their work.

Furthermore, a high reliance on contingent workers can affect company culture and morale among permanent employees, leading to feelings of insecurity or resentment.

Best Practices in Handling Contingent Workers

In managing contingent workers, it is crucial to adhere to several best practices to ensure efficiency and productivity. Some of the best practices include:

  • Providing a comprehensive orientation that familiarises these workers with the company's culture, policies, and expectations. 
  • Maintaining clear and open communication channels to address any concerns or issues promptly. 
  • Treating contingent workers with the same respect and fairness as regular employees, fostering an inclusive environment. 
  • Proper documentation of their work status, compensation, and benefits should be meticulously maintained to avoid legal complications. 
  • Providing opportunities for skills development and growth as it can enhance their engagement and contribution to the company. 

These practices can significantly optimise the management of contingent workers, thereby maximising their potential and value to the organisation.

Transform your hiring process

Request a discovery session with one of our background screening experts today.