The steady growth of the contingent workforce is a global trend and one which is becoming increasingly familiar to South African business. Contingent workers are most often characterised as contractors, consultants, temps and advisers, hired by an organisation, on an on-demand basis to provide services to that organisation.
According to a Statistics SA employment outlook the number of temporary employees has risen from approximately 2.6 million to 3.9 million in the last decade and a 2017 survey by Upwork and Freelancers Union has projected the American contingent workforce to make up more than 50 percent of the workforce by 2027. The shortage of critical skill sets coupled with rising labour costs and the trend towards a demand for greater workplace flexibility and work-life balance necessitates that organisations place greater emphasis on attracting, engaging and retaining this increasingly valuable workforce segment.
Although Google has long prided itself on creating great employee experiences, it would seem that its contingent workers, which account for over a third of its workforce, may not necessarily agree with this. Google contract employees have recently been voicing their displeasure at their perceived unequal treatment in comparison to full-time “Googlers”. According to a recent article in the New York Times several employees described how Google’s contractors are barred from attending company events and are not permitted to look at internal job postings or attend company job fairs. They also complain about being excluded from internal communication e-mails regarding important security issues.
Perhaps South African organisations can learn from Google’s recent negative press exposure and intensify their efforts to nurture a culture of inclusivity which welcomes contingent workers and offers them the support and communication structures they require to collaborate successfully and achieve both their own as well as the common objectives of the organisation. My next blog will explore some of the best practices adopted by successful organisations in their efforts to create great employee experiences for both their contingent and permanent team members.
By Natanya Rutstein