Subadhra Sriram's Blog

Contingent Workers Are the Survival of the Fittest

"What is a contingent worker?"

Five years ago, this was the most common response I received when I said I write on contingent workforce issues. And no, I am not talking about just my friends and acquaintances. Even those in the staffing ecosystem, including the erstwhile end users of temporary labor, were often stumped by the term.

Fast forward to 2012. The term contingent worker is widely used and accepted. Google it and you get 8,770,000 results. In contrast, temporary worker — once the more popular expression — gets only 3,380,000 results. So what changed? The recession played its part in promoting the use of these workers. Subsequently, corporate America, especially the C-suite, saw the benefits of a flexible just-in-time workforce.

And like any species, with evolution came the understanding that the term temporary worker had its limitations. Temporary worker meant just that. Contingent worker, on the other hand, could encompass various sub-species: Terms like temporaries, contract workers, statement of work consultants, independent contractors, freelancers, staff augmentation, professionals, independents, free-agent workforce — the mutations that entered the lexicon were numerous.

And as a last straw, temporary workers themselves didn’t like to be called temporary. They felt that it was demeaning. So there you have it. Staffing Industry Analysts estimates that global continent spending is about $1.5 trillion. This week at the Executive Forum in Las Vegas, around 1,000 professionals will gather to discuss how new staffing developments involving contingent workers can add to your bottom line. Watch SIA’s crack research team give you employment numbers and other contingent workforce statistics that will keep you ahead of your competition.

Hope to see you there.


Add New Comment

Post comment

NOTE: Links will not be clickable.
Security text:*


Global Employment Network, Inc. (GENi) 03/29/2012 12:19 pm

Your article regarding the contingent work force is very timely. I see them as a vastly under-utilized and rapidly growing phenomenon of the 21st century labor economy. The sooner our political leaders recognize the hidden value of CWs and make accommodations for them in the legislative infrastructure of employment/labor law, the sooner our nation will discover solutions to sustainable jobs creation and hiring.

I am passionate about influencing public policy to recognize the contingent labor force as a legitimate "employee" classification and I write extensively about this topic on If you ever see an opportunity to collaborate on any level to advance this mission, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Total 1 comments

Recent Blog Posts

An Effectual Contingent Worker Onboarding System Is Crucial

What if you had to work in a different office every week? Logging in to an unfamiliar computer, figuring out the dos and don’ts of the software, sitting in a strange cubicle, not knowing where the restroom... Read More

Executive Forum Talk Show

It’s not your usual talk show. But for those in the staffing industry, it promises all the pizazz of an Oprah Winfrey spectacle. At Staffing Industry Report Live during the Executive Forum, our esteemed... Read More

One-Click Shopping for Contingent Workers

Imagine this.  You as a buyer of contingent workers need to fill a position in your group — immediately. You log in to your company’s integrated talent management system (ITMS) and fill the position.... Read More

Get Social Buzz

Behold the power of social media. Google “social media” and you get 3.29 billion hits.  Facebook filed for its IPO last week — the social networking giant hopes to raise as much as $10 billion... Read More

RPO Scores

The fans are cheering. It’s not exactly a touchdown, but there’s cause for cheer:  recruitment process outsourcing has gone global. For years, the RPO buyer has searched for the mythical one-stop... Read More

Pandora’s Box: Misclassification

The IRS looks for it. Employers dread and hate it. And regardless of the different sentiments it arouses, it is not going to go away: Worker misclassification. According to a recent report by MBO Partners... Read More

Only Dinosaurs Don't Use Temps

Does your company use contingents? Can it staff a project within 48 hours? Does the company have a temp-to-perm hiring option? Does your management team talk about workforce modeling and the right mix... Read More

Finally, A Better Rep

Respect has been hard won for the staffing industry. It’s come a long way from the often derogatory epithet: “temp”.  But it took many years and a recession that brought an entire world to its... Read More

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo

Last weekend, a friend gave me a beautiful candle as a gift. No surprise there, given it’s the holiday season. But more than the candle — beautiful as it was — here’s what caught my eye: The package... Read More