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Faye Holland

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How to boost productivity among your contingent workforce


Faye Holland tells the community why temporary workers are so important, and how learning technologies can help your business.


There are currently more than 1.6m temporary workers in the UK, one of the highest figures ever recorded, and despite the fact that the UK has finally started to recover from the recession, the use of contingent workforces shows no sign of reducing. For example, the REC's recent Jobs Outlook report shows that 89% of businesses are expecting to retain or increase the amount of agency workers they employ over the next three months, while 96% of employers now offer working options outside of the traditional full-time role [1].
Contingent workforces have differing needs and wants to full-time staff, and the companies who rely on them must recognise these differences in order to keep their temporary staff motivated. While contractors often earn more than their permanent counterparts in lieu of receiving some of the benefits available to them, financial remuneration alone is not enough to keep morale high.
Training and development is one of the major considerations when motivating both permanent and temporary employees. The contingent workforce has specific training needs so it's important to tailor your learning programme accordingly. As much contract work is project-based and contracts can be short, it's essential that new starters are brought up to speed as quickly as possible. They may also need training in very niche areas which aren't relevant to the wider workforce, so it's important to take this into consideration when creating a training programme.
"Training and development is one of the major considerations when motivating both permanent and temporary employees. The contingent workforce has specific training needs so it's important to tailor your learning programme accordingly. "
It's very short-sighted for businesses not to invest in their temporary workers' development. Firstly, investment in training is essential for morale. Even if these staff are only working with you for a matter of weeks or months, it's important that they are motivated enough to be as productive as possible. Properly inducting staff into the objectives and culture of the business and fully explaining what will be expected of them will help them to reach productivity as quickly as possible, and will help both the individual and the company to get the most out of their employment.
Secondly, an investment in your staff will help to create a positive perception of your company which will last once their contract with you has ended. Whether they go on to be customers of your business, or consider working with you again in the future, or speak to other contractors about working for you, this will have a positive effect on all your future dealings with them.
It's important that any training plan is tailored to the employees involved, and this extends to temporary workers who may have very specific requirements. When training staff on shorter contracts, it's more essential than ever that training is of a high quality and generates greater productivity, rather than wasting time.
With many different training programmes needed across the business, it can be challenging to keep track of the needs of individuals and how these are being addressed. This is where a learning technology system can be a great resource. By recording each individual's skills and requirements, it allows you to monitor their development and assess where additional training is needed. It also helps you to keep track of whether planned training programmes can be rolled out to a wider section of the team.
Additionally, many learning technology systems can be used to directly provide elearning to a workforce. This can be especially helpful if your team members work shifts or if people work off-site. Elearning allows your staff to train at a time and a place that suits them, and helps to address some of the traditional time-based objections to learning.
Installation of the technology is just the start, so you should be looking for a supplier who is committed to supporting your business through the onboarding process and beyond, and who can also help address the training needs of your wider team. Investing in the development of your contingent workforce can have far-reaching, positive consequences and there are many technologies out there which are perfectly placed to help you achieve this.
[1] REC Flexible Work Commission Report
Faye Holland is managing director for SharedXpertise, owner of HRO Today Forum Europe

This topic will be debated by some of HR’s most influential figures from across Europe at the HRO Today Forum Europe, which takes place at the Gibson Hotel in Dublin between November 13th and 15th. For more information or to register your place, visit


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