Businesses are continuously looking for ways to cut costs and maximize productivity with the aim of boosting profits. As employing a workforce is one of the biggest business expenses for most companies, many firms are looking for modern, innovative ways to complete tasks with a lower budget. Contingent workers are here to meet this demand while also producing better results.
What is a contingent worker?
The definition of a contingent worker is an independent contractor, freelancer, consultant or other temporary outsourced person who is hired by a firm on a per-project basis. A contingent worker can work onsite or remotely. It’s not the location that defines the worker, it’s the nature of the relationship between them and the company that delegates the tasks.
Although contingent workers are only hired for temporary projects, they’re not the same as temp workers. Contingent workers are highly skilled, with vast experience and knowledge in their field.
They’re hired to complete specific tasks and projects on a one-off basis. When the project is finished, the worker and the company part ways. However, the firm may contact the contingent worker in the future when they need their skills for another project. The worker is under no obligation to accept work from the business and the business has no responsibility to provide the worker with ongoing tasks.
Contingent worker vs employee
The differences between a contingent worker and an employee are clear. Contingent workers do not receive a salary or any benefits from the company they complete projects for. Because of this, the hiring firm doesn’t have to worry about deducting any taxes from the money they pay them.
Contingent workers also have much more freedom than an employee hired by a company. The workers decide how to complete the project and when they’ll work on it. The hiring company is less focused on how the work is completed and more concerned about the results.
Contingent worker vs contractor
The differences between a contingent worker and a contractor aren’t as straightforward. While a firm might reach out directly to an independent contractor to complete a project, companies contact contingent workers through managed service providers (MSPs). The firm explains that they want a specific project completed and the MSP puts together the best contingent workforce for the job.
The hiring company doesn’t have to worry about monitoring employees or making sure things are progressing as they should. The team the MSP created gets to work on completing the project in the best way possible, supported by their great experience, qualifications and knowledge of the field.
What are the pros and cons of hiring contingent workers?
Hiring contingent workers can be an excellent part of your business strategy, helping you cut costs while improving efficiency. But as with any major business decision, working with non-permanent contractors also comes with a couple of flaws.
Delegating projects to contingent workers is much more cost effective for business owners than hiring employees. When working with contingent workers, businesses don’t have to provide health benefits, vacation leave, sick days or extra payment for working overtime. Neither do they have to collect and pay taxes out of the workers’ paychecks.
All this saves businesses a significant amount in recruiting and hiring costs, as well as cutting down on expenses associated with human resources and payroll.
A contingent workforce increases flexibility. When there’s a sudden increase of projects or a new task arises that would highly benefit the company, a contingent worker can be hired to bridge the gap and ensure there are enough people to complete all necessary tasks. As soon as the project is complete or business slows back down, the company can simply end the contact with the contingent worker.
This frees the business up from having to pay the salary for a worker who is no longer required without the need of firing them. In a fragile economy, this great flexibility is a huge advantage.
Hiring contingent workers is an easy way for firms to gain access to experts when they can’t source them internally. When companies hire employees, there’s always the risk that they’ll spend weeks if not months recruiting someone suitable for the job, only to lose all the value of the experience and knowledge when the new employee is forced to complete tasks in a certain way.
Contingent workers have the expertise businesses are looking for, with the added freedom that allows them to complete tasks their way, ensuring superior results.
The freedom that contingent workers enjoy which produces the best results can sometimes be a disadvantage for business owners. Contingent workers can’t be relied upon to be available for work, meetings or talks between specific hours, nor can they be told how to manage the projects. If a business owner wants total control over its workforce, traditional employees are a better option.
Problems can arise when the lines between employees and independent contractors become blurred. If a business owner incorrectly claims a worker to be a contractor when they’re actually an employee, the business will be hit with various penalties. They’ll also have to pay the employee taxes they should have been paying from the beginning.
If a firm is working with true contingent workers, this won’t be a problem, since they’re definitely not employees of the firm. Incorrect classification and the consequent fines only become an issue when the professional relationship between the business and the worker changes.
Contingent workers for an agile workforce
As the demand for greater flexibility, more cost effectiveness and increased productivity rises, the rewards of a contingent workforce become more apparent. By leveraging the benefits of non-permanent workers, any business can grow and succeed. Advantages are always coupled with disadvantages, but through transparency and planning, even the biggest drawbacks can be overcome.