Top Takeaways for Businesses to Invigorate Their Contingent Workforce

Finding the right people to work for your company can have an enormous impact on your business’ success. Recently, we collaborated with one of our partners, TAPFIN, in a four-part blog series that explores an often untapped yet talented resource — parents. With the unique skills this group hones while raising children, parents can be a valuable asset to teams and enhance business operations.

To maximize the full potential of these candidates, there are several key initiatives companies can take to improve the work experience for parents — and bridge the gap between workers’ expectations and an often disappointing reality. According to Unlocking the Potential of Parents in the Contingent Workforce, a report by Werklabs and Staffing Industry Analysts, there are four main practices to employ: empathy, flexibility, training, and opportunity.

Here are the top takeaways you need to know to help parents succeed at work and drive business success.

Cultivate Empathy

Empathy helps us forge connections with one another, allowing us to build meaningful relationships — and it is vital in the workplace, author Dary Levy, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales at The Mom Project asserts.

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In the workplace, empathy relies on two main things: understanding and seeing the person behind the role, and highlighting the importance of diversity in hiring.

Leaning into empathy and valuing what parents, specifically moms, require out of work is critical — and attainable. Contingent workers run the risk of feeling excluded from companies, disconnecting them from the culture and making work less enjoyable. Because of this, the best way to practice empathy for them is to enhance inclusion whenever possible. This falls into two main areas:

  • Foster an environment of “personal inclusion.”
  • Don’t let co-employment concerns block all forms of inclusion.
“When contingent workers feel seen and included, everybody wins. Empathy brings benefits to the companies that use contingent workers as well as to the workers. One of those benefits is building a loyal base of contingent workers who are willing to be redeployed,” Levy says.

Foster Flexibility

“Flexibility in the workplace has been a hot topic for years, but the pandemic proved to many skeptical business leaders that companies could still run and, in some cases, be even more efficient with flexible work models,” author Jennifer Torney, Global Vice President, Client Experience & Partnerships at TAPFIN Talent Solutions, points out.

Offering more flexibility “decreases barriers to inclusion, enables more diversity and provides historically underrepresented groups, including working moms, with more opportunities for career growth. And while flexibility certainly benefits parents and caregivers, workers of all demographics have indicated a preference for these types of options.”

Research has shown that flexibility — and happier workers — leads to business success. How can companies use this information to build better workplaces for all? Torney points out that strategies can include remote/hybrid work models that boost potential cost savings associated with sourcing talent remotely across alternative locations. 

“To reap the benefits of retaining contingent workers or accessing the untapped pool of parents and caregivers, companies should be proactively strategizing for how they can offer greater flexibility in any form,” Torney says.

Lead through Training

“Being a great leader goes beyond directing a team through workloads and projects. Leadership is a skill that is made better through experience and continuous learning — and great leaders know that leading with vulnerability, empathy and understanding can be one of the most powerful ways to inspire others,” Levy says in the series’ third article focused on training.

The Werklabs and SIA report states that the top two things leaders can do to build successful contingent workforce programs through training are, first, by equipping managers with the tools they need to hire well and be effective leaders, and second, by training managers to demonstrate empathy and inclusion.

Before diving into specifics, Levy points out that training is critical largely due to the implicit biases we all possess.

“The trick is understanding your own biases and actively pushing back against them. Not doing so can negatively impact your workplace, with one study showing that 80 percent of people who experienced implicit bias in the workplace would not recommend the company to others,” Levy says.

Cultivating a great workplace culture takes time and effort. It requires organizations to truly be invested in empowering their managers and their workers.

“The best way companies can show all types of workers they care is training their managers well and by showing up themselves, proving that actions speak louder than words,” says Levy.

Create Opportunities

“Some of you have heard the quote “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” This is relevant for many in the contingent workforce today, including parents and caregivers who are actively looking for ways to grow in their current role, change careers or transition to full-time jobs. However, not everyone has the tools or materials to build a door to opportunity. That is where managers play a key role,” Torney states in the fourth and final article of the series, discussing opportunity in the workplace.

According to the report, opportunity includes:

  • Providing equal pay and equal responsibilities for parents compared to others performing the same functions.
  • Providing upskilling opportunities for parents and actively seeking to convert parent contingent workers into full-time roles.
  • Taking measures to avoid scope creep in assignments for parents.

Yet Torney recognizes one of the main issues when it comes to providing opportunities for parents — first and foremost, that businesses may not always know if someone is a parent. Therefore, she suggests that opening up more opportunities, and more flexibility, for all is key to growing workplace success and culture.

When it comes to upskilling, companies can help themselves stand out by extending training opportunities to contingent workers, who are still invested in expanding their careers.

“The bottom line is that successful leaders recognize that it is up to both managers and contingent workers to communicate their needs, whether it is for more flexibility, training or opportunity, while also communicating boundaries...Empathetic managers who engage in this dialogue create a space more likely to retain parents and caregivers in contingent roles while also potentially growing them into full-time roles if the opportunity is right,” Torney says.

Empathy, flexibility, training, and providing opportunity is the way we can create the future we want to see — one that is inclusive, diverse and empowered. If this sounds like something you believe in, join us in our mission to create a better tomorrow.


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