Advantages of Hiring Contingent Workers During and After a Recession

According to Staffing Industry Analysts, approximately two-thirds of companies lay off contingent workers first when a recession hits. That’s why you hire them in the first place.

During an uncertain economy, savvy managers hire contingent workers to handle peak loads. The more uncertainty, the more you want workers you will be comfortable laying off, without adversely affecting your most essential core staff.

“Using contractors allows us to hire exactly the right talent at exactly the right time for exactly the right term,” says Jeffrey Bonar, CEO of JumpStart Wireless Corporation. “Contractors allow us to get a quick turnaround on a time-critical project. With contractors, you can get much more highly experienced talent than you’re otherwise likely to get if you hire someone. It’s the advantage of ‘just-in-time’ manpower – when you need them, you get exactly what you need.”

Some people think that contingent workers will be less expensive than employees. This is not always true. While you don’t pay a salary burden on contingent workers (FICA, health insurance, worker’s compensation, etc.), you typically pay more per hour to compensate for these. That said, Staffing Industry Analysts reports that 92 percent of companies say contingents are roughly 9 percent cheaper than their traditional, FTE counterparts.

In fact, the real savings comes from the flexibility these workers provide by not increasing your overall fixed overhead. According to Human Resources Executive Online, “Contingent workers solve several HR staffing issues: they provide flexible hiring for major projects and seasonal rushes; they provide specific expertise; and they let HR audition new employees without actually hiring them.”


On the surface, cutting back on employees and expenses is part of dealing with a recession. But on the other hand, companies must consider the fact that they are greatly hindering their ability to win new business and to take full advantage of an upswing as the recession fades away. Do you have enough manpower?

Contingent workers can also be hired to fill urgent gaps. This is in stark contrast to the all-too-common strategy of burdening current full-time employees with additional responsibilities (including those that they are not familiar with), and risking wearing out your essential core staff.

As the economy recovers, 50 percent of companies plan to hire contingent workers, according to Staffing Industry Analysts. Will you be the company that takes full advantage of contingents? Or will you get left behind?


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