Use of Contingent Workers appears to be on the Rise

BNA recently published an article regarding the use of Contingent Workers in the workplace and I was honored to be a contributor to this article.  Here are some excerpts from the work by Rhonda Smith of BNA:

As the U.S. economy rebounds, so too is employer interest in hiring temporary employees to work in an expanding array of jobs, according to a new report from the Seattle-based Institute for Corporate Productivity
(i4cp).  While temporary workers, which The State of the Contingent Workforce Report defined as leased employees, contingent employees, independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers, traditionally have
held lower-level support jobs, increasingly they are being hired to perform technical and management duties, the report’s author said.

Looming Challenges:

Dan Ryan, a principal with Ryan Search & Consulting in Nashville, Tenn., and a member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s  Staffing Management Panel, told BNA March 7 that there are obstacles to a smooth relationship between employers and contingent workers, particularly involving benefits and morale.  ‘‘There are firms that want employees who feel like they’re a regular part of the team, but with a contingent workforce [such employees] don’t feel like they are equivalent to  full-time employees. That’s a downside,’’ Ryan said.

Healthcare Issues:

Ryan said health care access challenges curb the extent to which highly qualified employees are able to enter the contingent workforce arena.  ‘‘There are many people who are in their 40s and 50s who would love to be contingent workers if they knew they could buy health insurance on the open market,’’ he said. ‘‘But it’s very difficult to do if you have any kind of health history.’’  It will take a collaborative effort between employers, insurance providers, and the federal government to address this challenge, Ryan said. ‘‘Not any one of them has the complete solution,’’ he said.

Report Recommendations:

  • Share ‘‘ownership and oversight’’ of contingent workers throughout an organization. Lykins said this could be done with ‘‘cross-functional teams’’ comprised of representatives from HR, procurement, and functional business units.
  • Consider using vendor management systems software.  The software can help with compliance issues and with determining the ‘‘total workforce spend,’’ i4cp said.
  • Be ‘‘succinct and consistent’’ in communications and policies pertaining to contingent workers.


There is no doubt that the contingent workforce will continue to grow, but firms will need to be prudent and steadfast in their recordkeeping and their assimilation to ensure that contingent staff feel part of the team like full-time staff do.  Government also has a role in making healthcare accessible and affordable through some type of partnership with the private sector.

Many wish to have the flexibility that contingent status brings, but the risks may outweigh the rewards as things currently stand.



Reproduced with permission from Human Resources

                 Report, 29 HRR 302 (Mar. 21, 2011).  Copyright 2011

                 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

                 (800-372-1033) <>