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The future of employment; Contingent Workers

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What are contingent workers?

Contingent workers are independent contractors, freelancers, and consultants that a company can hire on a per-project basis. Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic we are bound to see a rise in contingency work due to a lack of certainty in the labour market and a need for flexible working.

Contingent workers are hired to undertake specific tasks for a specific period of time in an organisation without receiving the same rights and employment benefits as full time employees. The key feature of contingency work is that it non-permanent.

Contingent Workers in Ireland

In Ireland, the two main types of contingent employment are employees on temporary contracts and freelancers. Between 1998 and 2005 eight to nine percent of the Irish workforce were contingent workers. This rose to over ten percent after the recession but fell back to its pre-recession figure in 2016. Contingent employment in Ireland is relatively lower than other countries in the EU.

Contingent work is often seen in a negative light due to the lack of job security. However, research has found that contingent workers in Ireland value the opportunity to gain experience and focus less on job security and pay. They do not suffer lower levels of job satisfaction compared to their counterparts in permanent positions.

Benefits for Employers

The main reason organisations use contingent workers is to improve profitability and maximise efficiency. There are a number of benefits to hiring contingent workers:

  1. Flexibility: they can be hired during busier periods and help the organisation to adapt to changes in the corporate world and within your organisation. This will be important for organisations adapting to a post Covid-19 world.
  2. Bridging the skills gap: contingent workers are highly skilled in specific areas. They allow an organisation to fill a skills gap for a specific project. This saves costs in retraining current employees.
  3. Quick and easy hiring process: there is no need for the same level of onboarding as with permanent employees. This will reduce hiring costs for organisations.
  4. Leads to more creativity: hiring contingent workers brings a different perspective into an organisation. A more diverse workforce leads to more creativity and innovation which will benefit the whole organisation.
  5. Reduce costs: contingent workers are not salaried and do not receive the same employment benefits as their permanent counterparts. This reduces the overall costs for the employer.
  6. Learning opportunity: contingent workers are often highly skilled and can provide a learning opportunity for current employees.

Organisations will have to react to the changing labour market due to Covid-19. With many companies moving to remote working for the foreseeable future, this may be where we see the rise in contingent work. There are many benefits for both employers and workers to justify contingent work as an option for the future.

Audrey Hughes
Careers at Principle