Implementing a contingent workforce can reduce hiring costs. But without a distinct Contingent Value Proposition, it can be harder to meet your recruitment goals. Employers may find it hard to reach, engage and measure brand impact on a fast-changing talent community.
Over the last three decades, agencies and employers have perfected the model for building an employer brand. Traditional employer brands begin with building an Employee Value Proposition. An EVP helps to understand why candidates should want to join, stay and build a career with your organisation.
But what if the talent you are looking for is no longer interested in joining, staying and building a career?
As the make-up of a typical workplace shifts to include more contingent workers, employers need to rethink their EVP and employer brand to start to consider contingent workforce solutions.
The shift towards a contingent workforce
Late in 2022, Gartner introduced a new phrase to the talent acquisition lexicon: ‘quiet hiring’. Quiet hiring is when organisations add new skills to their workforce without creating new job vacancies or adding full-time roles.
Quiet hiring has continued to be a theme for employers in 2023. This is evidently due to more and more organisations seeing the value in growing their contingent workforce. Generally, the shift in the labour market is more than just a trend in hiring – it is also a fundamental change in how many candidates see their career and their lifestyle. Overall, career development is no longer a priority; impact, experiences and flexibility are key.
In a previous blog, we discussed the changing talent marketplace. Organisations are increasingly relying on contingent workers. Whereas, growing numbers of candidates want opportunities to work flexibly and remotely. Generally, these factors result in the marketplace for contingent talent becoming more crowded. Employers are seeing the opportunity to engage with contingent talent far earlier and more frequently. This enables them to effectively build direct sourcing channels and to be increasingly visible in the marketplace.
What does that mean? Ultimately, it means that quiet hiring won’t stay quiet for long.
The Contingent Value Proposition
There is no doubt that the expectations and aspirations of your contingent workforce are different to a candidate looking for a permanent role. But it is also likely that there will be significant areas of overlap too. What seems to be the common ground is the desire of employees to be able to make an impact beyond a typical 9-5 role. These include making an impact on their skill set, on future career opportunities or on the organisations success. Whether they are a permanent or contingent employee, working with a sense of purpose brings out the best in people.
Building an employer brand that you can use to engage, inspire and attract your contingent workforce
will inevitably mean creating a segmented Contingent Value Proposition. It will need to be researched,
validated, articulated and visualised in the same way that you would your EVP. Yet at the same time, when
you take your CVP to market, you will want it to feel like a single, coherent Employer Brand – delivering
consistent, relevant yet nuanced, messaging to an integrated talent community.
Understanding the Contingent Worker experience
As the marketplace changes, employers need to change how they think about contingent workers to help
drive more direct engagement. Contingent workers are usually classified by their contractual status. Are they temporary workers, contract workers or statement of work? The emphasis for the employers rests on ensuring that they are classified correctly, that standards of compliance are met, and that any workers they bring into the organisation meet with current legislation around right to work and IR35.
A robust VMS helps to manage contingent worker governance and, in most cases, introducing the technology alone generates significant cost-savings. Now, as employers turn towards direct sourcing to build their contingent workforce, and explore new attraction channels, understanding the experience and mindset of contingent workers is just as important as managing the process.
In 2024, the contingent workforce is multi-dimensional and multi-generational. Contingent workers can be at the beginning of their careers, looking for experience. They can also be highly experienced ‘fractional leaders’ taking up interim roles at board-level.
If the stereotypical contingent worker is a male, middle-aged, highly paid IT consultant who is disengaged from the day-to-day life of the business, that stereotype has long since evaporated. The new workforce reality includes a global community of contingent workers who are restlessly seeking out great employment experiences by choice – ideally companies with a clear purpose, where they can make a visible impact.
Finding, engaging and inspiring loyalty in this fast-moving, ever-changing tide of talent creates a significant opportunity – and a creative, thought-provoking challenge – for HR and Employer Branding teams.
The opportunity for employers
Direct sourcing is more effective if you build a clear, relevant and bespoke proposition for your contingent audience. Evidently, a strong proposition will differentiate you as an employer and help to manage and reduce hiring costs.
Communicating directly with your contingent talent community will also give you a unique opportunity to understand perceptions about your employer brand more widely. Rather than waiting for annual employee surveys to provide data (or EVP focus groups that might only happen every couple of years), employers can use research apps to engage contingent workers, capture insights, ask for feedback or voxpop their experiences. It means that employers can generate the fast-moving brand insights needed to match messaging to a fast-moving talent base.
Finally, it is not only the talent base that is evolving quickly. The marketplace for attracting contingent talent is building around online communities where opportunities, agreements and payments can be made through a single platform. How brands build their presence in these communities will be critical to how quickly they can engage with the right kind of talent.
Employer brands should embrace the opportunity to build a contingent value proposition. While it can help to drive direct sourcing, the surge in contingent working also means that contingent worker hiring often involves reaching out to diverse and under-represented communities who have chosen a more unconventional career path. With diversity and inclusion being such an important part of employer branding, a CVP will soon feel like a necessity rather than a nice-to-have.
If you need support developing your employer brand for the contingent workforce, get in touch with us and we can help you.