Although the advent of digital technologies in the workplace is nothing new, now not only is technology changing the way we work – it is changing the composition of the workforce, too.  Where the only roles available used to be the in-office nine-to-fives, now more and more organisations are embracing the flexibility and agility of the contingent workforce.  In fact, so much so are organisations embracing this type of employment that the ABS suggests that up to 28% of Australia’s working population are contractors, freelancers, or flexible workers.

Looking more closely at the contingent workforce, there is little doubt as to why so many organisations are embracing it.  Contingent workers can be significantly cheaper for employers, not to mention that that they are more agile, flexible, and give employers access to specific expertise and a global talent pool.  However, if managed incorrectly, contingent workers can also have significant disadvantages – organisations can feel like they have little or no control over their contingent workers, fear that there will be confidentiality breaches, and experience commitment, safety, and team-building issues.  

So what does best practice contingent workforce management looks like? Research shows that better training may be the difference between a well-managed, and a poorly managed workforce.  But what training does your contingent workforce need? And how should you deliver it?  Here are three types of training you definitely need to provide to your contingent workforce, and how it should differ from the training you provide your non-contingent workforce:  

A (modified) Induction

Research shows that the average company induction has shortened from 100 hours to just 30 minutes. Whilst this sounds extremely short, for a contingent worker, it should be just be enough to cover everything they need to know about your organisation.  Ensure you modify your Induction to things that the contractor will actually need to know – for example, if they are working remotely you can replace facilities information with pay cycle dates and confidentiality conditions, etc.  Focus your Induction only on information that is important and of immediate relevance – due to the nature of the contingent workforce, there is no need for ‘nice to know’ training.  

Safety training

If, like almost all organisations, safety is your first priority, if a contractor is visiting any kind of worksite, they will definitely need safety training.  However, where most organisations focus on ‘just-in-case’ safety training, your contractors (and your organisation) don’t, honestly, have the time to sit through 3 hours of factory-specific WHS training ‘just-in-case’ they ever visit a factory.  So if you must deliver safety training to contractors, consider adopting a Just-In-Time (JIT) approach, where you deliver small, site-specific training just before a contractor is due to visit a particular site.  This approach is best enabled through an agile mLearning platform, such as the one developed by Teazl.

Team building training/activities

Although contractors may not technically be part of your team, and they may never even meet your team, making them feel included can have many benefits, such as increasing levels of commitment, understanding, and teamwork.  As with Induction and safety training, the ‘standard’ team building you would conduct may not be appropriate if you contractors do not work locally.  An easy, and affordable alternative would be a game, or getting-to-know-you challenge delivered virtually.  This type of challenge can also be delivered as part of a blended learning initiative using Teazl’s platform.

The contingent workforce is not only here, but it’s here to stay – studies shows that it is set to grow exponentially over the next decade. So, to ensure that your contingent workforce is managed to the best of your organisation’s ability, invest in training, but not just any training – modified, on-demand training so your contingent workers have the skills, and connections, to succeed in their roles, and to make yours easier.  

Author: Janine Cahill

XSLT Plugin by Leo Jiang