The Contingent Workforce: A Strategic Lever to Drive Resilience and Sustainable Agility

Businesses increasingly depend on contingent workers for workforce agility and flexibility. Leaders from Everest Group explain how vendor management systems (VMS) have evolved with this trend and can deliver advanced technology capabilities to manage the contingent workforce.

This article was produced by Practice Director Krishna Charan and Vice President Vignesh Kannan from Everest Group, which provides comprehensive research on technology and business services.

Charan and Kannan discuss how the contingent workforce has been redefined post-pandemic from a tactical to a strategic asset as enterprises increasingly turn to skilled extended workers to answer their talent woes and provide agility and flexibility. Vendor management systems (VMS) have evolved with this trend and can help deliver advanced technology capabilities to manage the contingent workforce. Read on to learn important questions to consider before embarking on a contingent workforce strategy.

The current business environment, marked by an increase in layoffs and hiring freezes, probably takes you back in time to 2008.

The consoling affirmation of business preparedness to help face the turbulent economy this time may ease some of the challenges for enterprises. Unfortunately, the economy isn’t the only woe business leaders are battling.

Many factors remain that make 2023 highly unpredictable: the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the cost-of-living crisis, China’s economic slowdown, and other concerns.

So, it’s not surprising that enterprises increasingly are seeking ways to be agile and resilient—and not just mitigating risks in the current uncertain times but also working toward future-proofing their businesses.

However, the path to achieving this goal can be turbulent, especially without the backing of a skilled workforce.

An Emerging Talent Source

The scarcity of skilled individuals due to the much discussed talent-demand supply gap is another issue to tackle. With an aging population and a shift in present-day

expectations—such as more individuals prioritizing work-life balance or following their entrepreneurial desires—fewer workers are seeking traditional employment. Significant research indicates the talent shortage will continue for at least another couple of years.

In times of rapid technological transformation for enterprises, the unfulfilled demand for techno-functional skill sets is likely to be an unavoidable challenge.

However, the contingent workforce has been a reliable option and, more often than not, a savior when it comes to addressing the holistic talent needs of businesses.

While the inclusion of a contingent workforce isn’t revolutionary, organizations haven’t always considered this as a strategic lever to achieve agility, flexibility, and scalability.

Frequently, organizations with a nonstrategic focus still consider the contingent workforce as just a means to offset permanent employees. Organizations that take a strategic approach can be disruptors.

VMS solutions are emerging as an important piece of the complex puzzle of total talent management (TTM).

The Evolving Contingent Workforce Landscape

Today, the contingent workforce has specialized technical, functional, and domain skills and experiences, providing their expertise across all business segments in the form of:

  • Services procurement/statement of work (SoW)
  • Independent contractors (ICs)
  • Consultants
  • Freelancers/gig workers

In addition to the traditional cost savings they deliver, contingent workers provide the added advantage of flexibility, niche expertise, and faster talent deployment.

VMS Adaptations to Changing Trends

Contingent workforce management can be daunting because of the complexities involved and the various disruptions shaping this space.

Fortunately, some VMS providers have been quick to adapt to this evolution by enhancing functionalities with deep reporting, advanced analytics, and candidate-centric capabilities.

VMS solutions are emerging as an important piece of the complex puzzle of total talent management (TTM), which takes a holistic approach by integrating the contingent workforce with traditional full-time employees.

VMS providers have expanded capabilities to offer a range of functionalities from sourcing to invoicing, as well as redeployment across all categories of extended workers. The success of effectively utilizing a contingent workforce lies in managing it well. Check out our latest research, “Contingent Workforce—a Strategic Lever to Drive Resilience and Sustainable Agility,” to learn more.

The Outlook

As your enterprise considers a new outlook for the contingent workforce, here are some questions to ask:

Is now the time to leverage an evolved contingent workforce for strategic purposes beyond just tactical roles?

  • How can organizations best manage an evolved contingent workforce?
  • Is your talent strategy equipped with the ammunition of TTM?
  • Is your organization truly utilizing the gamut of benefits today’s VMS platforms provide?

An effective contingent workforce strategy can be enticing to keep talent shortage worries at bay. To learn your organization’s degree of preparedness to successfully incorporate a contingent workforce strategy, read our paper.

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