Recruiting, Talent

5 Ways to Attract and Retain Alternative Workers

The nontraditional employment trend has continued on into the new year—and for good reason. Contingent workers help fill the void when looking for talent on a short-term basis or project. As for workers themselves, staffing agency Rose International found that nearly half of recent survey respondents identify the top benefits of contingent work as a good way to reenter the workforce (47%) and learn new skills (47%).


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We suspect this trend will continue—so long as states don’t enact legislation defining who is and isn’t an employee (we’re looking at you, California!). With that being said, if you’re looking to fill your workplace with full-time alternative workers, a new Ceridian report will help you understand what attracts them. And if you’re looking to retain these workers once their contract ends, we’ve got some tips for you, as well.

Ceridian, a Human Resources software and service provider, has released its 2020 Pulse of Talent report, which helps employers understand what drives contingent workers. The report features insights from 1,115 “alternative” workers in North America and details their reasons for choosing this path, their level of engagement, the reasons behind their satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and where they see themselves in the future.

Ceridian uses “alternative” workers as a blanket term to cover all forms of employment: gig workers, contingent workers, freelancers, independent consultants, side hustlers, self-employed workers, and independent contractors. “While there are some nuances between these different labels, what they all have in common is that they’re not regular employees of a single company,” finds the report. Because of this, your attraction strategies should also reflect the differences in the way this talent pool works!

Attraction Strategies

Personalization“One size does not fit all when it comes to the alternative workforce,” finds Ceridian. “Companies should make an effort to understand what these workers want—employee surveys are one great tool—and personalize their experience to keep them engaged.”

When reaching out to an alternative worker, recruiters should highlight how the company has personalized the job specifically for that worker. Will the alternative worker be given the same tools and access as full-time employees? Will the alternative worker be expected to attend workplace functions? Be sure to clearly communicate how your company appeals to alternative workers in order to recruit them into your company.

Flexibility“Alternative workers of all types enjoy the flexibility of their work situation,” says the report.  “Building flexibility into your culture for all employees—where possible—will make it easier for alternative workers to integrate into the existing culture. It will also make your company more attractive if you choose to tap this talent pool for open roles.”

Fair compensation“Leveraging gig workers can help your company scale up and down faster and at a lower cost than hiring staff and laying them off, but if you want to engage those workers and get their best effort, pay them fairly and accurately,” suggests Ceridian.

Alternative workers are able to source out new jobs based on their connections, and these workers communicate about what it’s like to work for a particular employer. If you don’t pay alternative workers what they’re worth, they’ll pass over your offer in a heartbeat.

Mental health“Precarious work situations and job dissatisfaction can lead to negative mental health consequences,” says the report. “Take care to support the total wellness of your alternative workforce—including their financial wellness—to keep them engaged and healthy.”

When attracting these candidates to your workplace, be sure to communicate how your company focuses on these workers’ wellness. When employees, at all levels, know their employer cares about their well-being, they’re more likely to stick around and refer their friends to your company, as well.

Respect“Alternative workers, while diverse, are also similar in many ways to your permanent, salaried workers. Take care to treat them as a valued part of the company, rather than dealing with them in a solely transactional manner,” Ceridian suggests.

Retention Strategies

Attracting alternative workers to your company is half the battle. The other half involves engaging these workers in the hopes that once their contract ends, they’ll renew it and stick around or, better yet, seek out full-time employment with your company. The tips mentioned above can also be used as retention strategies, but Ceridian offers a few other ways to engage and retain this talent pool.

Pay on time, every time. Because alternative work isn’t a guaranteed paycheck every week or biweekly, contingent workers need to get their invoices paid on time. A lot of gig workers complain that they spend most of their time hunting down payment from their gigs, so if you want to make sure you engage this talent pool, start by paying them on time.

Support financial wellness. Unlike traditional work, alternative workers do not get the same benefits as full- or part-time employees. “One emerging opportunity that can help organizations improve the payment experience for alternative workers is adopting technology that allows workers to receive their earned wages as soon as a shift or project is complete,” Ceridian suggests. “These on-demand tools give alternative workers more control over their cash flow, which can reduce stress and boost productivity.”

Onboarding is just as important for alternative workers. Onboarding ALL workers, not just traditional employees, is a great way to keep workers engaged in their jobs. Onboarding provides these workers with a sense of what’s expected of them and allows them to learn the ins and outs of the role and the job. If you look at alternative workers as just a “transaction,” you’re doing this talent pool a disservice. Just remember that these workers could transition over to full-time employees once their contract ends, so why wouldn’t you want to keep them in the know from day 1?

At the end of the day, alternative workers are just like traditional employees when it comes to work getting done. If you treat them as a temporary means to fill a void, these workers will feel left out and disengaged and will most likely not want to renew their contract at the end of the term. Keep these tips in mind if you want to attract and retain alternative workers at your organization.