Don’t Lose Sight of Boundaries

By Thomas Lawrence Print this article Print

A fast-growing category of workers requires special care and handling.

Don’t lose sight of boundaries.

Taking deliberate steps to recognize the value free agents bring to your organization is critical, but so is remembering the important distinctions that remain. It can be a very fine line, especially during long-term assignments when free agents start to seamlessly blend into the working environment. In reality, contingent workers generally are not eligible for the same benefits. They also usually work in a
co-employment capacity, meaning that their actual employer is most likely a third party.

These distinctions should help define the goal from the manager’s perspective when it comes to hiring and managing contingent workers. Ultimately, the successful engagement of a contingent worker must always be focused on the work
site and the job at hand—and nothing beyond that.

It is therefore extremely important to properly classify free agents. Companies must also clarify the work process up front and make sure that benefits plans specifically state who is eligible and who is not.

While some companies have mastered these lines between regular and contingent workers, it’s still a challenge for other organizations that are just starting to diversify their workforce. This is where the staffing agency that provides these workers can add value beyond the hiring process. Too often companies don’t understand that they are paying the workforce solutions provider not only to provide a quality candidate, but also to ensure that the contingent worker’s assignment is successful from beginning to end.

So take advantage of the provider's ability to foster clarity about the entire process—from interviewing and screening to providing the professional coaching a contingent worker might need to perform at the highest level the position requires.

With more and more highly skilled workers choosing employment on their own terms, an organization’s willingness to evaluate its workforce and embrace the free-agent work style will continue to be a wise decision as the economy recovers. If you can successfully integrate free agents into your workplace and make efficient use of their talent, you’ll gain the competitive edge that comes from a diverse talent base.

Thomas Lawrence is a vice president at Kelly Services, a global workforce solutions provider.

This article was originally published on 2012-01-19
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