Contingent worker: What they are and how to deploy them

Contingent worker: What they are and how to deploy them
Last Updated: January 5, 2023

Contingent workers are a growing trend in the workforce. They are typically defined as workers who are not employed full-time and who may or may not have a fixed job. These workers can be found in various industries, including the service and retail sectors.

Companies are constantly attempting to improve efficiencies and reduce expenses to achieve profitability. With labor being one of the most expensive expenses in business, businesses naturally strive for creative ways to do tasks more quickly and cheaply, which is how the contingent workforce came to be.


Independent contractors, temporary workers, freelancers, consultants, or other forms of outsourced labor like gig workers may be categorized as contingent workers.


These people could be hired through suppliers or other talent pools like staffing firms or online marketplaces for independent contractors, or they could be found directly by a business through its procurement or human resources departments.


Utilizing contingent labor may provide organizations with a more flexible and economical alternative to filling certain skill gaps without making the long-term investment of hiring permanent personnel.


What is the meaning of contingent work?

An individual who works for an entity but is not officially hired as an employee is known as a contingent worker. An individual recruited for a set length of time, frequently on a project basis, is referred to as a contingent worker. Workers regarded as contingent may provide their services permanently, temporarily, or as required. In contrast to permanent employees, who take on a constant, unending job, they are frequently employed to finish a specific project. The following are a few examples of contingent workers:

  • Independent contractors
  • Freelancers
  • Consultants



Why Do Some Employees Decide to Work as Contingent Workers?

Many productive contingent workers can earn more money or work fewer hours than they would as permanent employees and occasionally can do both. Additionally, independent workers frequently cherish it. They are free to select the tasks that appeal to them the most, and once you have given them a task, they are free to pick how to complete it; micromanagement is usually not permitted.


How do you engage contingent workers?

For all talent, whether permanent or contingent, it is crucial to focus on the fit between the prospect and the corporate culture.


When a liaison is not present to function as a point of contact and establish expectations from day one, creating harmony between permanent staff and contingent labor is challenging. The client and the candidate should value synergy since it can promote fruitful interactions, teamwork, and innovation.


Here are a few engagement projects to take into account:

  • Extending recognition initiatives to both contingent and permanent workers
  • Establish a mentoring program for temporary workers and permanent employees. 
  • Collaborate with a provider of contingent labor that provides alluring advantages to contingent workers.


What is an example of a contingent worker?

Contingent workers are also referred to as:

Example roles of contingent workers include:

  • Gig Workers
  • Flexible Labor
  • Non-Payroll Workers
  • Outsourced Workforces
  • Non-Employees
  • Staff Augmentation
  • Individual Resources
  • Temporary Staffing
  • Independent Contractors
  • Contractors
  • Freelancers
  • Contracted Consultants
  • Agency Workers
  • Nurse
  • Retail Clerk
  • Marketing Services
  • Truck Driver
  • It Specialist
  • Construction Worker
  • Engineer
  • Web Designer
  • Architect
  • Copywriter
  • Project Manager
  • Legal Services


Why do companies hire contingent workers?

Employing contingent workers has several benefits, particularly in a tight labor market. Due to various perks, several businesses favor hiring contract staff over full-time employees. There are, however, negatives to take into account. 


What Are the Benefits of Hiring Contingent Workers?

Although the contingent workforce is not new, the recent economic downturn has increased companies' use of contingent workers. The federal government defines a contingent worker as an employee who does not have an explicit or implicit contract for continuing employment. Contingent workers include temporary help agency workers, independent contractors, on-call workers, and contract firm, workers. In addition, contingent workers can be full-time or part-time.


Hiring contingent workers have various possible strategic and financial benefits. Among them are:

  1. Increase your flexibility. Organizations can modify the proportion of their staff as needs change rather than committing to employing permanent workers. You can work with contingent workers again once they have completed their assignment. 
  2. Gain access to specialist knowledge. Professionals can be brought in for one-time projects that require talents that your usual crew does not have, such as designing your company's website.
  3. Spend less on compensation. Employers must pay only the agreed-upon amount for the services provided by contingent workers. They are not obligated to pay overtime or provide employee benefits like medical/ health insurance or paid time off. 
  4. Reduce training expenditures. Contingent workers are typically employed for advanced knowledge and abilities that they already have, decreasing or eliminating time meant to be spent on training but now can be used for productivity.
  5. Avoid tax obligations. Taxes are the responsibility of independent contractors, freelancers, and consultants. You are not required to withhold and deposit payroll taxes or make matching employer contributions to Social Security and Medicare. 
  6. Fresh perspectives. Not every business requires a new hire. Sometimes all that's needed are some fresh viewpoints. Bringing someone in from the outside is a quick and economical method to gain that new perspective. A temporary consultant or advisor is still considered to be a contingent worker.


Key decision-makers in a company can have trouble distinguishing between the forest and the trees. It can be challenging to identify new development routes when you are too close to your daily activities. Someone with extensive knowledge in the field but no personal connections to the business can have a clearer perspective. A company's strategic orientation may be greatly influenced by this kind of new viewpoint.


What Are the Challenges of Hiring Contingent Workers?

1. Control and supervision

Contingent workers aren't your employees. Remember that at all times. You can and should provide them with a detailed outline of their expectations. Additionally, you can monitor their procedure and often check in. Even so, you don't have the same level of authority or supervision over a contractor as you would over a permanent employee.


There is an easy way to see the distinction. There is an easy way to see the distinction. You can tell a contingent worker what to do but not how to do it. You have no say over their work hours or when you can contact them. You also lack authority over the systems they use to finish a task. This will not necessarily affect the quality of service performed. However, lack of control can be problematic for some owners and executives.


2. Screening & Trust

One of its benefits is the ease with which you can bring on contingent personnel. It frequently takes much less time to begin a project with a contractor than to hire a full-time employee. But doing so can divert a company from thoroughly scrutinizing the people they hire. Neglecting the screening procedure can lead to serious issues.


A lot of confidence and trust is put in contingent workers even though they are not permanent employees. Businesses frequently grant them access to their facilities or computer systems. Additionally, managers could grant them access to and usage of private data. Contractors could cause harm if businesses don't thoroughly screen them like they would permanent employees. If one individual mishandles client data, the business's reputation will be permanently damaged.


3. Legality

Generally, a company has fewer obligations to a contingent worker than to a permanent employee. You are not usually expected to provide employee benefits. That means you're probably not required to provide insurance, paid leave, or anything else. However, things aren't always clear-cut.


It can be difficult to determine whether or not a person is an employee. You must become acquainted with all relevant legislation in your area. It is illegal to treat an employee as if they are a contingent worker. Fines and penalties may be imposed by your region's tax authorities, for example. That is if you incorrectly classify an employee as a contractor.


4. Unreliable Talent Access

Filling in skill gaps can be done by hiring contingent labor. It's one of the main benefits of hiring people on a project-by-project basis. However, there is a similar problem. You could occasionally discover that you cannot use the appropriate abilities at the appropriate time.


For instance, imagine that your company suddenly faces a certain difficulty. If you had recruited a full-time worker with the necessary abilities, you wouldn't have to deal with that problem. You can't be certain that you'll be able to locate and hire the ideal specialist in time if you rely on contingent workers.


5. Building a team and culture

This is a disadvantage of hiring contingent employees extensively. If you sometimes hire outside experts, it won't matter as much. Building a firm culture or sense of cohesion is challenging when relying heavily on non-permanent employees. You'll get no sense of team or togetherness from your colleagues. That makes sense because there isn't a real, lasting relationship with your business.


Any business can suffer from poor corporate culture and low team morale. Employees who feel a connection to their co-workers are more productive. Contrast this downside of using contingent labor with any potential gains.


Tips for Managing Contingent Workers

Despite the difficulties, utilizing contingent workers is still something you should consider. By being conscious of them, you may position your company to prevent such consequences/challenges. In this manner, you can gain much from non-permanent employees. We've compiled a handful of concise suggestions for handling a contingent workforce.


Due Diligence

Do everything you can to get to know the person you will be working with before hiring an external employee. It makes sense to research possible contractors thoroughly. Examining reviews is a great place to get started. You might also try contacting businesses that have already worked with the person. You might want to think about conducting a background check on a worker if you're going to put them in a position of trust.


Systematized Talent Acquisition

Find the ideal personnel for each project if you rely on contingent workers. A logical first step in finding talent is to have a systemized approach. Try to establish a straightforward procedure for hiring and managing contingent labor. You might be able to delegate the duty to a team member. It might also entail installing specialist software to make talent searches easier.


Integration & Participation

Building camaraderie and involvement among a non-permanent staff is more complicated. That is especially true if your contract employees also work from home. However, if you try to incorporate your non-permanent workers better, you will benefit. Encourage relationships between contingent and permanent employees. Don't minimize their significance to your team's permanent members. Make sure, above all, that you don't smear contractors with the proverbial brush.



It would help if you always abide by your region's rules and regulations. When it comes to contingent workers, regulation can become a little complicated. If you have never employed such personnel, start familiarizing yourself with the pertinent laws. After then, make sure that you or someone in your company stays current on all changes as they happen.


Contingent Workers –A Significant Component of Today's Workforce

In conclusion, today's world differs from ten or twenty years ago. You never could have guessed how much technology has changed daily life. Communication and interaction patterns have rapidly changed. Individual perspectives on life and work have also evolved. All of this indicates that today's labor is a different species.


Traditional employer-employee relationships are increasingly being questioned. A shift favoring what the workforce prefers, be contingent workers or full-time employees, is growing rapidly. Working as a contingent worker allows them more flexibility and better fits their personal lives.


Many businesses benefit from the use of contingent labor. Contractors or freelancers may be less expensive than full-time employees. It's also often easier to enlist the assistance of more highly skilled professionals as needed.


Contingent laborers are not without disadvantages. Firms must exercise caution while contracting and employing non-permanent employees. However, doing so may become the greatest method to get the most out of today's workforce.


Related Article: Employee compensation and what you need to know about it

Related Article: Contingent Workforce Management?

Related Article: Understanding What an Independent Contractor Is

Richard Mapfuise is an Organizational Development Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm. 


Phone: +263 242 481946-9/481950

Mobile: +263 779 683 299  


Main Website:

Richard Mapfuise

Related Articles


Sign up now to get updated on latest posts and relevant career opportunities