Contingent Workforce Management: A Simplified Wordbook

contingent workforce management glossary

Every industry has its jargon, and the staffing world isn’t immune. For newcomers in this space, making sense of the various industry terms and acronyms can be confusing. Acronyms can mean different things, and multiple names linked to a similar concept can confuse unfamiliar audiences. And if you were like me, you might have even found yourself replaying recordings of meetings to write down these terms, then searching for their meaning. 


While it’s nearly impossible to standardize the staffing-industry lexicon, becoming familiar with the most commonly-used contingent workforce terms can help you gradually ease yourself into the vast sea of information. I know for sure, as a newcomer, I would have appreciated it.

Here is a fairly comprehensive list of industry terms and definitions.  Bookmark it as a reference, or call us – we’re here to help educate you so you can make the best decision for your company.  

Contingent Workforce Management Glossary

Staffing agency

A company that provides businesses with contingent staffing or recruitment services, including candidates.


An individual applying for a job through a staffing firm or directly with the company.

Applicant tracking system (ATS)

Software that helps companies identify, organize, and track candidates through the hiring process. It can also be referred to as a talent management system.  

Blended workforce

A combination of various worker types or categories in an organization operating under different contracts. It is usually a mix of full- and part-time, consultants, freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees. 

Pay rate

Contingent worker’s hourly pay.

Bill rate

Pay rate plus markups, which can include payroll, statutory, third-party provider fees, and other costs.


A percentage of the bill rate amounting to staffing agency fees for the services rendered.

Candidate relationship management

Strategies and processes that govern the interaction between businesses and their potential employees, alumni, or current staff.

Co-employment risk

A set of legal and financial risks arising due to the mismanagement of contingent workers.

Consolidated invoicing

The process of combining multiple invoices from different staffing suppliers into a single invoice, which makes it easier for companies to manage when issuing payments.  

Contingent worker

Temporary or non-permanent workers who are hired for a period of time or on a per-project basis. Contingent workers can also be called freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, non-employees, extended, or outsourced or offshore personnel. None of these workers are permanent or direct employees of the business.

Contingent workforce program

The method by which a company sources, recruits, and manages its contingent workers.

Direct hire 

A hire made directly by the company without the aid of a staffing agency. 

Direct sourcing

The process of building talent pipelines using your organization’s existing internal talent pools; companies can extend their reach by directly accessing other talent pools.

Employer of record (EOR)  

An organization that serves as a contingent worker’s official employer for tax and statutory responsibilities.  EOR is inclusive of payrolling services. 

Hiring manager 

An individual from the company responsible for initiating a job requisition and defining the required qualifications for that particular job.

Job boards  

Online platforms where jobs are advertised. Examples include LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, Monster, Facebook, and Snagajob.

Job requisition 

A formal initiation of a job request.

Job description

A formal document that lists the relevant skills and legal requirements for a particular job opening.

Managed service provider (MSP) 

A third-party service that helps businesses oversee their contingent workforce programs. By acting as an interface between businesses and their talent suppliers, MSPs facilitate end-to-end management of the entire contingent talent lifecycle.

Rogue spending/maverick spending 

Expenditures in a contingent workforce program that exceed the pre-defined and negotiated contracts. Rogue spend is often unreported or untracked in budgets or misrepresented as SOW spend. 


The process of integrating and introducing a new worker into the organization. 


The process that governs the legal separation of a worker and the employer organization. 

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) 

A form of business process outsourcing (BPO) where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider. 

Employee referral program

A talent acquisition strategy where businesses provide benefits (bonus pay, gifts) to current workers to recommend skilled candidates within their network. 

Request for information (RFI) 

A formal document that asks workforce solutions providers to share an overview of their capabilities and company information. After approval, the solution provider enters into the request-for-proposal stage.

Request for proposal (RFP) 

A formal document that specifies in detail the solution provider’s company information, financial information, product capabilities, and customer references as part of the company’s bidding process.

Self-managed program  

A contingent workforce program that is managed by the business with no external support.

Service level agreement(SLA) 

A formal document that specifies the work expectations the company requires from the service provider.

Candidate sourcing  

The process of searching and attracting potential candidates.

Spend management 

The process of forecasting and budgeting money to be spent on a contingent workforce.


The process of hiring contingent workers within an organization.

Staffing company/staffing agency/staffing firm

An external organization that provides staffing/recruiting services to a client.

Strategic workforce planning

An ongoing process that aims to anticipate and fulfill the current and future staffing needs of the organization.

Supplier management 

The process of managing relationships between staffing solutions providers and businesses. Supplier performance management is an integral component, where staffing suppliers are assessed based on relevant key performance indicators (KPIs)

Talent acquisition

The process of identifying and attracting potential workers.

Talent management

The process that governs and manages the entire worker life cycle within a contingent workforce program.

Vendor management system (VMS) 

A cloud-based or web-based software platform that helps companies manage their contingent workforces end-to-end. A VMS increases visibility, automates processes, helps control spend; it can be managed by the company or the MSP.

Vendor-neutral approach

MSPs that have no preferred supplier list and that give their supplier base equal access to the company’s job postings.

Vendor-tiered approach

A process where MSPs send job openings to their supplier base in a static, tiered, and sequential manner, depending on the relationship between the MSP and the staffing supplier.

Now that you’re clearer about the terminologies, you’re ready to figure out how your company can better manage its contingent (or extended, non-employee, contract, freelance) workforce. Whether you’re looking for new contingent talent or searching for a workforce solutions partner to completely manage your programs, Prosperix’s array of workforce solutions has the answer for every challenge. 

Let’s talk today to learn more about your workforce needs.

How Technology is Transforming Contingent Workforce Management

contingent workforce trends 2022

For any business that believed it was resilient to change, the pandemic was a loud, unexpected wake up call. Whether or not it was a rude one, the jolt encouraged every company to take a closer look at making work and workforces agile and resilient. Better candidates need to be hired faster, working styles have to become more flexible, greater productivity and efficiencies need to be achieved. 

And so, one big question looms – “What’s to be done?” While the answer seems straightforward (embracing technology), companies are struggling to bridge the gap between meeting worker needs and increasing automation. While the goal of optimizing workforce management through technology can seem unattainable to both growing and established organizations, it’s far from impossible. Let us tell you how, whether you’re gathering resources to implement new technology or trying to improve your company’s technology adoption and change-management success.

Workforce management technology – A compelling investment?

Not too long ago, companies began to realize that investing in technology was key for development. As workforces grew and change became inevitable, manual program management turned out to be untenable, especially for large entities. As workforces are changing, so is workforce management, but companies often fail to keep pace.

The 2022 State of the U.S. Workforce survey from TCP Software Solutions suggests the move to advanced workforce management technology is slow, yet welcome. The survey found that 58% of businesses rely on handling their workforce’s data manually through emails and spreadsheets or through basic digital tools even today. In a landscape impacted by Covid-19, where about 45% of the American workforce prefers a hybrid working style, this approach seems less than ideal. The silver lining is that 72% of businesses are adopting HR and workforce management technologies by increasing budgets; 52% of those see value in incorporating cloud technology to automate tasks, improve communication, and expedite decision-making. 

While technology can simplify and streamline workforce management, barriers to adoption can stand in the way. Limited technological competence, lack of funds, or difficulty in finding the right tools to fit specific needs can be real challenges. Companies will be able to confidently forge ahead with investments in technology when they concentrate on their biggest and most powerful component – people.

The present – and future – are all about people

For organizations to identify the best ways to handle workforce processes, they must start by understanding the actors that affect them. According to a 2022 research report from The Josh Bersin Company, companies should pay attention to nine key trends to be successful in workforce management:

  • The current economy is reinventing and redefining work
  • Technology is one of the main facilitators of hybrid working
  • Executives are driven by a learning and upskilling-centric mentality 
  • Talent marketplaces are the not-so-secret staffing weapon of every business
  • Employee experience is everything
  • Workforce diversity is expanding to include equity, inclusion, and belonging
  • People analytics is at the core of every business function
  • Updating HR capabilities isn’t an option, it’s a necessity
  • The CHRO’s role is more important now than ever

It’s clear that the common thread benefiting companies is to focus less on the business angle and more on the human one. The Bersin report pointed out a common thread across studies from 2020-2022: “Listening to employees is one of the most valuable management practices we have.” 

The importance of technology in contingent workforce management

A new world of talent acquisition, engagement, and management is here, one in which data around workers and their experiences should be inextricably tied to every decision we make. And the trends we’ve discussed aren’t applicable only to companies with full-time workforces. In industries where contingent workforce solutions are present, talent-tracking and performance-management platforms are essentials.  

Whether programs are managed by an MSP or internally, visibility into the details is key. A major benefit of using an MSP is its ability to promote visibility into key performance indicators, compliance, spend management, and productivity (of suppliers and workers). Tracking personnel records and monitoring output are best handled by people-centric solutions like vendor management systems (VMS). 

Data-based: A complete workforce management solution

Comprehensive workforce management solutions are most effective when they are dynamic and scalable. In today’s unpredictable economy, changes to business strategies, particularly around employment, need elasticity and the capacity to accommodate unexpected, sudden shifts. Modern workforce management technologies that rely on data and actionable insights provide a heightened ability to predict and forecast. They enable companies to know specific details like how many workers will be needed at a given time, what skills and pay rates will be required, and which suppliers can provide the best talent.  

Data represented as metrics, business intelligence, transparency, and benchmarks allow businesses to predict future needs and counter potential fluctuations in the market or within the organization. Yet, to be meaningful, data must be interpreted and curated. Many growing businesses don’t have the time or staff to manage programs and analyze data, even with legacy technology solutions in place. 

That’s why you need an end-to-end  solution that combines vendor management, AI-powered vetting technology, applicant tracking functionalities, and a powerful performance management dashboard: Prosperix VMS Network. 

Welcome to the future of contingent workforce management.