As healthcare workforce management becomes more complex, facility leaders face a greater need for alternatives to traditional staffing models. In recent years, contingency workers have emerged as a particularly effective solution. But what is contingent workforce management in healthcare, exactly, and how can organizations use it to their best advantage?
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What Is Contingent Workforce Management?
What is contingent workforce management, and why has it become so important? A contingent workforce is a group of professionals employed on an ad hoc, on-demand basis. In contrast to permanent, salaried employees, contingency staff works in a limited and temporary capacity.
Put another way, contingent workforce management is the strategic use of temporary contractors to supplement and support permanent staff. These are skilled workers who are already trained in the jobs they’re tasked with, and who need minimal onboarding. They can either work on-site or remotely, with a variety of different use cases and varying lengths of contracts.
Members of a contingency workforce are mostly independent contractors or freelance workers who willingly engage in temporary assignments. Usually, a staffing company formally employs and manages them to ensure efficient use. This also helps protect employers from common risks associated with contract workers, like taxes and provision of benefits.
What Is Contingent Workforce Management within Healthcare?
In today’s “gig economy” era, where workers embrace flexible lifestyles that let them work when and where they prefer, contingency workforce has become something of a buzz word. But its use in healthcare represents a larger, trend, including travel nurses and per diem workers as well as traditional part-time and temp staff.
In short, contingency workforce management in healthcare is nothing less than a paradigm shift — a new and better way to meet a number of urgent needs at once, including maintaining ideal staffing ratios, ensuring patient safety, keeping a workforce within a specific budget, and gaining access to essential and specialty workers at a time when they’ve become scarce in many areas.
These are important benefits. But as useful as contingency workers are, they require careful management for success. For instance, contingency staffing can save employers money in the long term by cutting the costs of hiring and sourcing, and more efficiently using resources. But it takes expertise to realize those benefits, especially given the immediate expense of bringing on new workers.
For that reason, most employers who use contingency staffing rely on a third party to help manage it. The good news is that most contingency workforce services are delivered by healthcare staffing companies and workforce solutions providers. So, that expertise usually comes in a package with travel nurses, per diem clinicians and other commonly used temporary workers.
Contingent Workforce Management Options for Healthcare Leaders
As noted above, successful contingent workforce management requires expertise to be successful. Without careful and correct implementation, employers could not only miss out on important efficiencies, but even expose themselves to risk. Proper worker classification, employer-of-record documentation, and regulatory adherence are just a few areas that require close attention.
In addition, contingency staffing can be costly for employers without the proper approach. Not only do travel nurses and other contingency workers require higher hourly wages, but administrative teams will need to spend substantial time sourcing, vetting, contracting, onboarding, and paying them without third-party assistance.
Fortunately, employers can offset these expenses and risks with the help of a seasoned and reliable staffing partner. A contingency staffing provider can help healthcare employers source workers as needed, helping them avoid the need to negotiate salary and benefits on an individual basis. It also helps ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, saving current staff from having to do extra work.
Using VMS and MSP Services for Contingent Workforce Management
These services are also available from healthcare managed service providers (MSPs). Specializing in managing all or part of an organization’s contingent staffing needs, MSPs also apply the latest technology and best practices to help improve workforce management throughout an entire organization, including processes relating to permanent staff like shift scheduling and time tracking.
Another way to better manage contingency staff is with healthcare vendor management services (VMS). By helping leaders combine a variety of key workforce tasks into a single line item, VMS providers help drive efficiency and ensure the most cost-effective use of contingency workers. They also help organizations achieve ongoing compliance, risk management and proper documentation, among other benefits.
Healthcare MSPs and VMS partners also help drive further long-term improvements. By leveraging neutral technology to combine essential workforce tasks under one platform, for instance, they can help leaders more closely monitor key workforce processes and make future improvements as necessary.
We Can Help with Your Contingent Workforce Management Needs
Amid growing staffing challenges, the need for contingent workforce management is here to stay. Organizations that fail to keep up with this important new development may find themselves at a loss for the workers they need. However, those who do take a proactive approach may discover a new path to positive financial returns at a time when that’s never been more important.
At CareerStaff, we’re proud to be a leader in helping healthcare organizations better manage today’s challenging workforce landscape. From nationwide clinical staffing to strategic workforce management services, we’re here to help with Joint Commission-Certified solutions. Learn more about our solutions, or get started by requesting contingency staff today!