Planning and Forecasting with Contingent Workforce in 2010 and Beyond

We are wondering what 2010 will bring. Recession has turned to recovery, and the economy is now growing again. The pains of the labor market will soon be healed by higher productivity as consumer demand increases across the board. One of the elements that may influence the pace and direction of hiring during the recovery is actually the way jobs were cut during the recession. Companies seemed to cut much faster and deeper during this recession than previous ones, quickly moving through contingent workers into core full-time jobs. Many experts who follow trends in the staffing world believe that companies will have a higher dependence on contingent staff who will allow organizations to more strategically re-integrate staff into organizations not just in 2010, but beyond.

The contingent workforce has historically been a thermometer of the economy highlighting job recovering before full-time employment rebounds. According to the American Staffing Association, which tracks staffing companies that provide contingent and temporary workers to all industries, the number of people placed by staffing firms fell by one third since 2007. This equated to a drop from 3 million in 2007 to about 1.9 million in Q2 of 2009. Recovery in the labor market can be marked by the number of temporary workers, which has been steadily rising since the end of June, and was up 8 percent by early September. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from October to November 2009 temporary employment increased 2.9 percent and 52,000 temporary jobs were added in November, the largest gain since October 2004. A rise in contingent staffing is clearly underway.

As we boldly march into 2010, we are entering a time in our history that will require a new way of thinking about staffing. In a recent survey conducted by Veritude about hiring in the post-recession, it was concluded that only 3 percent of companies would revert to the staffing model used before the most recent recession. Organizations are recognizing that contingent staffing can allow them to be extremely agile in any type of changing environment. Recent studies also indicate that at least 73 percent of employers will increase their contingent workforce in 2010. Among these employers, 35 percent predict more than a 50 percent increase in their flexible temporary employees. 

We have seen hundreds of our customers take advantage of the recent downturn by investing the time to evaluate the competencies and willingness of their workforce. Gut wrenching cutbacks obviously happened. However, we also witnessed some cutting of the fat, upgrading of talent, and alignment of the workforce with true corporate visions. A staffing approach including a higher degree of contingent workers in critical roles will be the answer for organizations that need to quickly attract top talent in order to execute its corporate strategy.    

Contingent workers often have experiences and skill sets that traditional employees do not. Some examples include interim executives acting as change agents leading software implementations, helping an organization go public, or creating and merging new compensation plans. This trend will obviously continue because our retirement age keeps extending. The best contract employees tend to enjoy 1-2 year assignments so they can keep learning. 

As you and your teams discuss the talent needed to meet your goals, you may determine contingent workers are a proactive model that should be a explored further. We have heard the call of our customers, and have worked diligently to locate only the best contingent staff in this marketplace.

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