Safety and your Contingent Workforce Training Program

Our workforce is now more diverse than ever. As our population numbers rise, so the level of contingent workers increases.

Contingent workers: “...a labour pool where members are hired by organisations on an on-demand basis” account for a rising percentage of the workforce.  Edelman, a global communications marketing firm, surveyed 1000 Australian workers to assess the extent of, and attitudes towards freelancing in Australia. The report details that over 30% of the Australian workforce are now engaged in freelance work which contributes $51 billion to the national economy and both figures are rising.

According to the Department of Employment’s Australian Jobs 2016 report, the next decade will see our workforce becoming older and more culturally diverse than ever. In 2035, nearly 20 per cent of Australians are expected to be over 65.

Freelancing in Australia: A National Survey of the New Workforce states that Gen Ys and Baby Boomers are freelancing more than any other age groups.  Over a third of Gen Ys (33%) and over 55s (35%) are freelancers.

This new workforce brings with it specialised knowledge and expertise that can benefit an organisation in unexpected ways.

At a recent event, Kineo’s Lara Stewart delivered a thought provoking presentation; Understanding the Changing Workforce

APAC stats NSCA article

The pro’s…

A contingent workforce can be highly beneficial, providing access to specialists for both project and ongoing work when budgets wouldn’t allow for a full-time rate employee. Also providing access to a fluid workforce that is adaptive to change with increased productivity and employee satisfaction. Expanding your freelance or off-site employee base can also help expand your services and geographic reach.

The cons…

Onboarding and managing contingent workers is a real challenge due to their partial, and sometimes unpredictable, participation in their employer operations.

The lack of an integrated workforce management strategy, managerial behaviour, poor data management, inadequate technology and compliance can expose companies to operational business, financial and reputational risks.

37% expect growth in the use of contractors.  Only 16% have policies and procedures. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, 2018.

Managing the challenges

Organisations of all kinds can put in place various processes and procedures to mitigate these risks and ensure new workers understand their compliance related responsibilities and are familiar with the workplace they’re being employed in.

Onboarding is even more critical for contingent workers than full-time employees, and it should start before the employees do. When planning the onboarding program, the workers’ situation should be uppermost in your mind.

Along with the standard elements of onboarding process such as overviews of the company’s values, mission statement, organisational chart and new hire paperwork, there are also more individualised elements that should be incorporated into a contingent onboarding process.

While employees need to understand policies, procedures and any compliance requirements, contingent workers are unlikely to need, or want, the amount of onboarding that might be appropriate for a full-time employee, for example education on company background and culture.

To receive maximum benefits from contingent workers, you must more closely align the onboarding practices used for regular and contingent employees while still delivering a unique experience suitable for the individual circumstance. Even before the workers commence employment, organisations can mitigate potential challenges with engagement and loyalty by cultivating relationships and delivering personalised experiences before the contingent employees even start.

This means, for example, supplying important documentation to workers ahead of time, and making direct contact to welcome them to the organisation.

For compliance and risk management purposes, contingent workers require a certain amount of training in Work Health and Safety (WHS) policies and procedures. But they don’t always receive it as organisations may baulk at the cost and logistics involved.

It is important from an engagement, efficiency and risk management perspective that employers review how they manage, verify, report on and provide a formal on-boarding program to induct contingent workers. Elements of this can be automated by appropriate systems.

Where next?

Contractor Management Systems (CMS) and online learning would solve many of these problems – it allows contingent workers to train when and where they choose, it enables learning material to be tailored to the specific needs of each role or individual, and it records your employees’ course completion and results, ensuring mandatory training is delivered and completed to a satisfactory end.

It is important to note that a contingent and ageing workforce will include a wide range of backgrounds, skills and abilities. An elearning system must be user-friendly, designed with the user in mind and supported by a range of contact options to assist the learning process.

Through our Platinum partnership with the National Safety Council of Australia, Kineo is committed to ensuring you will be able to find, select, validate, engage and monitor your contingent workforce – whoever they are and wherever they may be!