Why You Need to Have a Flexible, Contingent Workforce

Editor’s Note: Dr. John Sullivan has been a provocateur and strategist in the field of human resources and talent management for over 30 years. His specialty is HR strategy and designing world class HR systems and tools for Fortune 200 firms, and he’s never been shy about telling it like it is.

That’s why TLNT asked him to share his thinking in a video series titled “$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” Look for these videos twice a week here at TLNT.

Today’s topic: The need for a flexible workforce

With an economy going up and down, managers and HR professionals need flexibility to deal with the changing business world. According top Dr. John Sullivan, that means the ability to flex by utilizing a contingent workforce.

One big issue: how do you integrate contingent or temporary workers into your organization? In Dr. John’s mind, you need to realize that contingent workers probably should make up about 50 percent of your workforce, especially if your business has periods of “peak” work where you need a larger number of workers for a relatively short amount of time.

He also says that it is important to make sure that temporary workers are measured and evaluated much in the same way that regular/full-time workers in your organization are.

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“If you write a detailed work statement, if they get detailed objectives for each worker, you can them assess them against that work statement or contract,” he says. “I recommend that. Every worker should have a work statement … (and) they probably should be (measured by) whether they perform (against that), not just volume but quality. (Do that) and you’ll get people performing much better.”

He details a number of ways to manage and handle a contingent workforce (including the importance of capturing their learning and what they know before they leave your temporary employ), and he points to Microsoft as a company that knows the right way to handle a contingent workforce despite some legal problems with temporary employees years ago. “They’ve totally turned it around. They’re one of the best in the world,” Dr. John says.

Did you miss the last segment of$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” on “What’s the Best Way to Motivate People?” You can see it here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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1 Comment on “Why You Need to Have a Flexible, Contingent Workforce

  1. Great thoughts… do the Microsoft contingent workers that do 9 months on/3 months off get unemployment for the 3 months?

  2. if they are mainly seasonal workers, how exactly do make sure that they the temporary workers are measured and evaluated much in the same way as regular one, lets say of the appraisal process is out of season?

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