COVID-19 and the Contingent Workforce: 4 Best Practices

COVID-19 has created, in just a short time, a new reality in the ever-changing world of work. We’re facing uncertain times which, understandably, can be a cause for anxiety and stress. It’s important now, more than ever, that we come together as a global community to help each other navigate these strange waters.

As employers, we have a responsibility to make sure that our workforce is cared for. And this extends to our contingent workforce as well. VectorVMS is a global leader in contingent workforce management—our employees have been through the ups and downs of the labor market and we’re here to offer advice and support during these uncertain times.

Below are four tips for working with a contingent workforce.

Engaging With Your Contingent Workforce

Many organizations contain a contingent workforce that is vital to the success of the company. They are nurses, IT, warehouse associates, customer service, garbage and sanitation… and the list goes on. Many of these roles will be even more vital in the days and weeks ahead.

What does your visibility and communication strategy look like with your contingent staff? It’s important to rely on your technologies for powering solutions across all sectors of business during this crisis. Use your vendor management system as a source of record for your contingent workforce for increased visibility and better understanding of your talent landscape when creating business strategies regarding COVID-19.

While many have chosen contract work to match the lifestyle they desire—namely interesting work, constant change, higher pay, greater flexibility and so on—others have chosen contract work out of necessity. It’s just as important to ensure that your contingent workforce feels engaged with your business continuity planning. The news is full of reports of Walmart, Amazon, Zoom, and many hospitals and healthcare systems, are hiring contract workers to meet the demand in these industries.

Also read: “3 Keys to Contingent Program Success”

1. Communicate Company News (Even If It’s Bad)

Companies and leaders may find themselves unsure of how or when to communicate during this time of uncertainty. In times like these, even when we do not know what to say, it remains critical to step up to the “stage” and communicate to employees (contractors as well as FTE) and customers alike.

Now is the time to demonstrate strong leadership, show compassion and responsiveness. Keep all your workforce informed about the company’s current state—both the good and bad.

2. Remove Obstacles

Is there anything that’s preventing your contingent workforce from being productive? If you don’t provide laptops to your contingent workforce, do they need one now to work? Does their cell phone have enough data or minutes to support their needs? Take a look at what Amazon is doing.

Not all companies have the ability to match the efforts made by Amazon. However, it’s important to work with your vendors and contingent staff to determine what can be done to support your employees. One of our largest global clients has worked hard to ensure its contingent staff’s health and safety by ensuring they have laptops and equipment to work remotely.

3. Change Work Schedules So Teams Can Remote Work

In light of recommendations from the CDC and the international developments of COVID-19, social distancing and self-quarantine are important methods for flattening the curve. We understand that some contract positions could be on the front lines of the pandemic and do not offer the luxury of working from home. In these situations, it’s important that the right equipment and safety protocols are in place.

Flexible work schedules may also be another solution, with organizations like Goldman Sachs alternating who’s coming in the office and at what time to limit exposure and adhere to CDC guidelines.

4. Ensure Hygiene Protocols Are in Place

All organizations should have hygiene protocols in place, with the most basic including hand washing, staying at home when sick, and cough etiquette. It’s vital to ensure that these best practices are also communicated to your temporary workers.

Both staffing firms and clients should work together to ensure the health and safety of their contingent staff. There’s more on this in SIA’s article, “Temporary Labor Challenges: Compliance With the Law in the Age of Covid-19”.

Do You Have What You Need to Get Through COVID-19?

The old adage “Knowledge is Power” rings true especially in times of uncertainty. It’s time to get creative and everyone must come together to create new solutions for unusual and complex challenges. While this will be a time of unprecedented change, it’s also fundamentally part of human nature to help each other in times of need.

There are many ways technology can help you get through the days ahead. Whether that’s Netflix to pass the time, Zoom for your virtual workouts, or a VMS to keep track of your contingent workforce, all will play a key role in these unprecedented times.