Managing the non-employee workforce: 4 lessons for the future

May 20, 2021

2020 was an incredibly challenging year for businesses and business leaders, one that won’t be forgotten or remembered fondly. However, it is important to reflect on the lessons we learned and use our new experiences to adapt our businesses for the future.

In a quest to navigate the sea of change, businesses had to become agile to survive. At the height of the global pandemic, many businesses radically changed their work practices, the makeup of their workforces, their use of technology, and they adopted new, socially distanced and remote ways of working. Non-employee workers became a vital piece of the COVID-19 puzzle, enabling organisations to consolidate, focus their strengths, and work more efficiently to protect their profitability.

Last year fundamentally altered the future use of non-employee workers, weaving them inextricably into the fabric of modern work, Here are four key takeaways all businesses should consider to make this ‘new normal’ work for them:

 Make data-driven workforce decisions

In just a matter of weeks, businesses had to adjust to a life of working remotely, and, for some, at a distance. To do this effectively, managers were forced to review all their projects, work practices, and resources. But that was just the beginning.

Beyond identifying each employees and contingent worker, they needed to understand the worker’s location, which workers were assigned to which project, the equipment and networks each needed to access, and the systems each one had been given permission to use. Keeping track of this in a large organisation is virtually impossible without the right tools to hand – but without this information, managing your non-employee workforce is a bit like playing chess with a blindfold.

Take the time to understand your hiring needs

The pandemic forced business leaders to make decisions at breakneck speed. But it also proved that we do have the ability to adapt, overhaul strategies, and work in new ways, even under the most adverse circumstances.

After an initial reduction in spending on contingent workers, a report by Beeline found that a third (32%) of US companies did indeed replace full-time staff with non-employees.

Now, as we head into a post-coronavirus world, businesses are looking to return to their full capacity. And this means hiring needs are set to change yet again, likely with more contingent staff replacing full-time employees.

Agility is a great competitive advantage

In times of crisis, flexibility, and agility are competitive differentiators. Contingent workforces enable businesses to operate with the agility they need to navigate uncertainty – turning negative circumstances into positive outcomes.

In good times, flexibility can allow your business to benefit from a relentless focus on your core competencies – in other words, doing what you do best.

In times of uncertainty, you can look to a contingent workforce as a means of risk mitigation, enabling you to streamline, grow, or adapt – cutting costs in times of hardship, and then cost-effectively reinstating resources when you are able to do so.

This poses a series of questions regarding optimal workforce composition. What is the right balance between employees and contingent staff? Which assignments are most cost-effectively filled by temporary staff and which by milestone-based contractors? Are we spending more than our targeted bill rates to fill certain positions? T hese questions can all be answered with an extended workforce platform.

Workforce optimisation should always remain a priority

Optimising your workforce is impossible without the right analysis tools at your disposal. You need to consider the optimum mix of contingent staff and employees to be able to respond quickly and flexibly to uncertainty. To do this, you need real, live data on projects, resources, vendors, and talent. You cannot do this with a spreadsheet.

To adapt and be agile, you need to leverage all the resources you have available: service providers, strategic partners, and technology providers. So, when change happens, you can adapt quickly, effectively, and successfully.

Introducing Beeline

Beeline helps you work with your closest strategic partners to proactively manage the non-employee contingent talent and resources you have at your disposal. We can help you discover important insights about your extended workforce, giving you unprecedented visibility into your team’s current and potential performance.

With the pandemic catalysing an upheaval in the relationships between partners, contingent workers, and business, it has also spurred a search for new, more fruitful ways to work and tackle the challenges that remain ahead.

To learn more about Beeline and how it compares to alternative vendor management systems, download our eBook: 5 primary benefits of Beeline’s next-generation vendor management system (VMS).