The food industry from manufacturing facilities to grocery stores have long used temp workers and independent contractors to help ease the supply and operational demands of the holiday season. In recent years, seasonal management of increased contractor populations has morphed into yearly oversight for contingent workforce programs and the partners. This trend of utilizing contractors to meet hiring requirements annually instead of seasonally may be the new normal for these companies. It may be a forced reality for the food industry to embrace a higher ratio of contract workers within their hybrid workforce.
Food manufacturing has regained its employed population from pre-pandemic levels. According to the labor department the industry suffered a workforce decline starting with the lockdown and slowly recovered in Q4, 2021. Increased product demands, commodity uncertainty, supply chain issues, new distribution sources via online grocery platforms, and buyers continuing to buy in bulk, has created a reliance on contractors to help company’s leap over those hurdles.
Currently, these hurdles remain on the food industry track and those in charge of managing contingent workforce populations will have to supercharge their programs to transform into an annual reality of increased reliance on contractors. This will lead the industry to adopt new methods of acquiring, managing, and retaining contract talent.
“Direct Sourcing models are great options for commonly used roles especially those with seasonal demands,” says Cheryl Tracz, CCWP, Principal Consultant with Tracz Consulting, who has helped over 70 enterprise organizations manage their contingent workforce talent pools. “Organizations or staffing suppliers can curate their own talent pools with previously used temps, ICs and then also with referrals and passive candidates aligned to the skills they may need in the future.”
Scaling is not easy and bumpy at best. Just because the realities of today’s challenging marketplace are answered by increasing a new workforce, compliance will be on the mind of all food industry leaders.
“The largest compliance risk for organizations is lack of knowledge about engaging Independent contractors,” says Tracz. “Internal education to those engaging talent on worker classification, and the requirement that they not dictate to workers that they need to be engaged as a 1099/IC and having a contract to govern the relationship are 3 ways to reduce risk.”
Tracz’s thoughts on the subject detailed that few organizations have a strategy on how and when they engage non-employee labor. Visibility into understanding when to engage specific types of talent that make sense in the role they execute as well as each worker’s fit within the company culture.