What Contingent Workers Don’t Want in a Job Aside from Crummy Pay

What Contingent Workers Don’t Want in a Job Aside from Crummy Pay

Pay is an essential motivator in the contingent hiring process, but only up to a certain point. Which is why making compensation decisions isn’t the only thing CPOs and HROs need to evaluate. While we know contingent workers want to earn a comfortable living wage, we also know that they’ve chosen temporary work to satisfy their idea of what work is all about.

40.4% of the workforce is now made up of contingent workers and it breaks down like this:

  • 16.2% are standard hourly contingent workers

  • 12.9% are independent contractors (who provide a service or product and find their own customers)

  • 3.5% are hourly contingent on call workers

  • 3.3% are self-employed workers (shop/restaurant owners, etc)

  • 3.0% are contracted workers

  • 1.3% are hourly through agencies 


40.4% of the workforce is made up of contingent workers. Read here ...

Contingent work gives people more flexibility, the option to work remotely, and even the promise of avoiding a monotonous career. 


So why do so many make the mistake that money is the most important factor in contingent workforce planning? If what contingent workers really want is xyz, then xyz can be implemented and promoted to indirectly alleviate rising compensation costs. Sure your company can pay contingent employees competitively, but what if your company has something unique that makes compensation not as large of a requirement in attracting contingent workers. 

By looking at what contingent workers don’t want in a job, we can learn a little more about those underlying motivators to accept a temporary offer. According to the book Agile Talent, the top five complaints contingent workers made about their temporary workplace was:

  • Insufficient and inconsistent sponsorship

  • Slow decision-making

  • Complex organization structure

  • Internal staff not working hard enough

  • Difficulty to assess senior leaders

Take a look at what can be learned from what contingent workers don’t want in their position.

Insufficient Sponsorship

This is a big one. A whopping 87% of millennials said professional development and career growth opportunities are very important to them. And it’s inaccurate to assume contingent workers don’t seek growth in their career. After all, they don’t want to bounce around to different job after different job and never increase their value as a contingent worker at the next company. Temporary workers seek growth too and as millennials make up more of the contingent workforce, their wants and needs are going to become more important. So far, many companies are failing to showcase these contingent career paths. 

Seek out your human resource departments and management to create contingent career paths. Make sure all recruitment messaging doesn’t portray that the temporary worker isn’t just there to fill a hole, but evolve in the role and to learn so that they’ll have the experience and resources to take on the next level in their contingent career, should they choose.

How to frame your messaging to best attract contingent workers look...


Inconsistent Sponsorship

Job stability affects contingent workers too. When they take a temporary position for a certain amount of time, they’re opening themselves up to a lot of change. Granted, they can handle the change, but nobody likes finding out their job is in jeopardy because of poor workforce planning. If word gets out one too many times that contingent positions are unstable at your organization, your contingent employer brand will take a hit. When employees say they want stability, they want the pay and benefits they’re promised, and more importantly, consistently low stress levels. Did you know that employers spend$300 billion per year on stress-related health care and missed work?


Contingent workers are changing what job stability means because the idea of the “American Dream”—working the same job for 30 years, getting a house, a mortgage, settling down—is an antiquated idea. CEOs, company structures and systems change all the time and company loyalty is falling out of practice, hence temporary workers, but being a stable force and having a strong reputation as a supportive sponsor of contingent workers is critical. 

#DYK employers spend $300 billion per year on stress-related health...


Internal staff not working hard enough

When you spend 40-50 hours a week with a group of people, those dynamics become very important. Being the new guy or gal is common to the contingent worker, and there’s no engagement level like being new on the job. They come in bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to tackle their new job!  

But if the team they’re hired to help isn’t producing their fair share of the work, contingent employees may see the position as a lost cause. Every employee, permanent or temporary, wants to have a support system at work and feel like work is shared equally for the most part. The internal staff being referenced also includes managers or supervisors. So make sure everyone is considered in this factor. Encourage management and permanent employees to make temporary workers feel welcome and appreciated, not like the gopher thrown all the work no one else wants to do.

Complex organization structure

Work culture can make or break contingent worker engagement and a complex organizational structure can be a detriment to this. The structure of your workforce defines the personality and culture of your workplace. Like any relationship, contingent workers want to find a personality they can mesh with. A company with a formal, super high-energy personality isn’t going to appeal to everyone. It is, however, going to appeal to the right people. Did you know that the turnover rate at companies with a rich company culture is only 13.9%?

Think about your company’s purpose and passion. Is this communicated in the contingent hiring process? If not, make sure it is! Also ensure that your company’s values are reflected in everything you do, be it volunteer opportunities or company outings. 

Compensation may be important to the contingent workforce as it is to most every segment in the workforce, but there are many areas of opportunity to improve upon that can help you hire contingent workers more competitively, aside from pay.

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