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Could you be getting more value from the liquid workforce?

Posted by Alexandra Kane on Sep 24, 2019 8:00:00 AM
Alexandra Kane

The workforce has changed pretty rapidly over the last five years or so. As more workers move from standard, full-time roles into fluid engagements with employers, the ability to effectively scale and maximize your talent investment has never been more profound. These workers have been (or are currently) referred to as contractors, freelancers, and temp employees, among other titles.

In fact, the numbers have increased so dramatically, a new term has been coined to encapsulate all those non-traditional workers who are helping your business reach its goals. Now, the phrase “liquid workforce” is used to refer to any sort of non-traditional workers that contributes to your organization.

As employers have become more savvy in understanding the potential associated with liquid workers, we’re at the cusp of moving from a period of “What is the liquid workforce” to “How can I best maximize liquid workers?”

Here at Sense, we are proud to serve as a trusted partner and resource for the staffing industry. To help you stay on the cusp of the latest advancements and trends poised to impact your firm, we have committed to creating powerful resources that help you stay ahead of the competition. In this piece, we will take a closer look at the liquid workforce, and how your staffing firm can take advantage. In fact, we’ll leverage some robust research we calculated and prepared with our friends at HR.com.

Together with HR.com, we set out to understand how today’s employers are using liquid workers, what tools are helping them take advantage, and much, much more. We heard from over 500 organizations across multiple verticals between January and February 2019. 

Presenting: Your guide to the liquid workforce

Saying we gathered a ton of information would be a massive understatement...but we really did gather an incredible amount of data. Taking our staffing and recruiting leaders and combining their expertise with the talented team at HR.com, we published an extensive report on our findings, with critical takeaways that are applicable to just about every industry.

The full, 33-page report can be downloaded in its entirety on HR.com (free signup required, if you haven’t already). But, to give you a sneak peek at the results, and to help you make better decisions right now, here are some of the most important takeaways from our research that can help you get more value from the liquid workforce:

You’re probably already using liquid workers, but you’re not managing them very well. 

About 40% of survey respondents use members of the liquid workforce in their businesses. This percentage can include part-time employees, consultants, freelancers and independent contractors. Thirty percent of respondents use a more traditional model, hiring temporary workers provided by staffing firms. 

But while a large percentage of organizations uses liquid workers, these organizations themselves acknowledge that they probably don’t manage their liquid workforces very well. Part-time employees seem to stand out here, since 39% of respondents say they excel at managing those more traditional workers. 

The numbers decline steadily as we work down a list of liquid workers -- organizations are significantly worse at managing consultants (30%), temporary workers from staffing firms (23%), freelancers and independent contractors (22%) and volunteers (14%). 

Fewer than half of organizations that use contractors believe they’re good at managing them. 

You can probably recite in your sleep the benefits for organizations in using contingent workers -- primarily, to increase flexibility and reduce costs. These are tried and true benefits for just about every organization, and they can have a powerful impact on the bottom line. 

So why is there such a disconnect then between the perceived benefits and the actual, day-to-day implementation of liquid workers within organizations? Less than half (44%) of respondents agree that their firms are good at managing the performance of contingent workers. 

Only 39% agree that their contingent workers always get important updates, and fewer than ¼ consistently measure contractor satisfaction. 

There are two ways to look at this -- one is that, wow, there is SO much potential! Even at these low levels, organizations are getting incredible value from their liquid workforces. Imagine how even a small percentage increase could impact the bottom line for you and your clients?!

Many businesses use staffing agencies to provide their liquid workers, but aren’t getting very useful data. 

Staffing and recruiting firms remain trusted partners for contingent workers and augmenting the liquid workforce. Just over half of HR professionals use one or more staffing agencies (53%) to provide contingent labor. 

In a data-driven economy, it’s imperative for staffing firms to deliver powerful analytics that demonstrate their efficacy and the power of their services. Yet, fewer than 1 in 5 respondents (only 18%) say that their staffing agencies provide them with excellent analytics in regard to the employees that are provided. 

About ¾ of respondents believe that staffing agencies help them fill positions faster - a core competency of every staffing firm that holds up to its promises. But, the number drops significantly to 56% when it comes to providing highly skilled talent on demand. And of course, I already touched upon the analytics gap noted above. The staffing industry has incredible potential to rise to this challenge, provide powerful analytics data to clients and to effectively use technology in order to provide better talent, more quickly. 

Dig deeper into the liquid workforce, and how to take advantage.

For more insights into the liquid workforce and how your staffing firm can take advantage, download our full report with HR.com, Effectively Managing Today’s Liquid Workforce.

Topics: contractor churn, contractor engagement, liquid workforce

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