I was just catching up on news recently when I came across numerous articles on the gig economy, self-employment, the rising incidence of part-time employment.
What struck me was the continual unease and uncertainty surrounding the hiring of these contingent workers and it made me wonder just how much organisations actually know about managing contract, freelance and casual employees.
The Contingent Workforce has been around since contracting or casual work began and this is not a new phenomenon. I managed a large book of contractors as a recruitment agent back in the 90s and I could usually tell almost immediately if a person had the aptitude for dealing with the uncertainty and ambiguity associated with contingent life.
How well this person handled the stress had nothing to do with:
- Technical expertise, although you need to be confident in these;
- The type or length of the contract, although the longer the better;
There are two states of mind that I saw commonly amongst these contingent workers:
- John Smith has a six-month contract. He is confident in his skills and is comfortable that there will be a new contract or a renewal at the conclusion of this gig. He has been learning new skills and adding to his stock and trade as well as networking in the market constantly. Two months before the expiration of the contract, John checks in the see if he will be renewed. He understands there is a demand for his skills in the market place. Typically, John will be renewed or he is able to find another contract without much difficulty.
- Janine Jones also has a six-month contract but is very concerned about getting an extension. She calls her agent many times and schedules many meetings with her current employer to understand her current situation. It’s all about her, she feels at risk and is concerned for the future. This impacts her well-being in terms of sleep, as well as her relationship with her co-workers, family and friends. The pursuit of a new gig becomes her most important activity. Her performance levels drop off and she is at the mercy of not getting renewed.
As Colin Shaw discussed in his article on Dealing with Ambiguity: The New Business Imperative, some people need to learn how to handle unpredictability while others can do it instinctively. Unfortunately or fortunately, the ability to deal with uncertainty is a skill that we will all have to learn in light of today’s volatile business economy. And having been a business owner for many years, I have also learnt to focus my energy on my Circle of Influence, NOT my Circle of Concern (I thank Steven Covey for helping me understand and master this skill).Focus on your Circle of Influence, NOT your Circle of Concern says @trevorpvas Click To Tweet
So if you are planning on dipping your toes into the contingent space, here are some points to consider when hiring a person who is going into contracting for the first time:
- Understand the market for their skills and what is their potential in the future;
- Ensure their social presence is current and vibrant;
- Connect them with long term contractors with similar skill sets;
- Pay them through a Contractor Management Company, CXC Global has a lot of support for their contractors;
- Get them to join a contractor community like Freelance Australia;
- Encourage them to have personal development plans. There are lots ways to do this.
The road towards running a successful Contingent Workforce is hardly a smooth one but applying these tips will certainly reduce the amount of uncertainty and stress which could eventually lead to, dare I say, a more productive and loyal group of Talent.
Join us at the upcoming Contingent Workforce Conference to learn more about how you can establish the control you need to make your Contingent Workforce function a success. Tickets available here.
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