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Contingent workers are a big opportunity for banks

Taking a more strategic approach to staffing will help banks and credit unions better capitalize on today’s candidate trends.

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Banking is among the industries relying most heavily on contingent workers, with current estimates reporting this segment has grown to represent almost half the overall workforce, at 47%.

Considering the high value today’s candidates place on remote work arrangements and unrestricted flexibility, banks’ ability to hire and retain talent is directly related to how well they embrace remote and flexible work. HR executives once hesitant to support remote work have realized they have been missing out on qualified candidates – and losing current employees – by requiring roles to be in-person and full time.

Banks and financial services companies are no strangers to utilizing contingent labor. This is especially true for hard-to-find IT talent. As banks continue to invest in technology to improve their customer experiences, they need a digital workforce to implement and maintain their tools. IT talent has long operated on a contingent project basis, using their expertise in a particular technology to consult and execute on software projects.

The currency for this role’s success is relationships, and banks must tap into this however they can get it. So, how can financial services companies use contingent talent to their advantage?

Clarify the “ask” and the “why”

The job description formula has traditionally consisted of a long list of requirements and a generic organizational overview.  To attract contingent workers, banks must instead use language that demonstrates a more forward-looking approach to talent.

Articulate exactly what a person must do to be successful in the role. Contingent workers have likely worked in varied environments and understand that success is defined differently by each. In addition, highlight how the position suits the work/lifestyle needs of an individual who may also be working on other projects and be clear in how the experience gained in this temporary position will translate into future opportunities.

Re-think value vs. cost

Contingent labor is falsely viewed as a no-strings way to tap into skills while saving money. This stems from labor markets of the past where there was an oversupply of talent. Today, banks most successful at recruiting contingent workers view them as strategic assets, not procurement costs.

Today, companies are assessing what their ideal candidate looks like regardless of worker classification. For example, tech and soft skills assessments are now part of the recruiting process for both employees and contingent labor, and direct sourcing continues to trend up as companies build their private talent pools.

It is important for HR leaders to have the value-versus-cost discussion around talent with executives. When the total workforce is viewed as a valued business driver, rather than as a hit to the bottom line, talent can truly be a differentiator.

Get visibility into your workforce mix and ensure all hiring managers have a seamless process to evaluate which positions can be filled more quickly and strategically with contingent labor. And look at positions as opportunities beyond immediate needs – understanding how a role may evolve as the business grows will help determine who best can fill it.

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Make the workplace more equitable for contingent labor

Companies must level the playing field when it comes to the reward experience, regardless of whether the individual wants to be a full-time employee or contractor. There are some perks (like paid time off and bonuses) that just can’t be translated to contingent talent because of co-employment risks. But the alternative – doing nothing – is creating a massive divide between the haves and have-nots that companies can’t afford to tolerate.

Take stock of the “perks and benefits” column for contingent workers. Flexibility, competitive pay, the opportunity to be hired – all of that should be promoted in your job description and evaluated periodically to ensure you’re giving talent a reason to work with you. Give contingent labor an equal voice in meetings and access to opportunities, and build out a strategy to use contingent talent as a pipeline for full-time positions.

Taking a more strategic approach to the contingent workforce will help banking and financial services companies capitalize on today’s candidate trends. And, just as importantly, it will help develop their reputation as a talent-friendly industry that embraces where the labor market is headed.

Mike Schiappa is chief procurement officer for Beeline.