5 Best Practices for Maximizing Engagement of Your Contingent Workforce

dv1492010The US Government Accountability Office found 40% of the workforce is contingent in some capacity. Debates on classification aside (standard part-timers make up 16%), contingent work has only grown in popularity as more Millennials make their mark on a new employment landscape.

There’s a sense of freedom in the case of independent contractors, freelancers and even temporary positions that a more traditional employment role lacks. These same benefits might stand in the way of keeping a contingent worker engaged and productive. Don’t be overwhelmed and miss out on the benefits of a contingent workforce. Keep these best practices in your back pocket for healthy and happy contingent employees.

Have a strategic plan before hiring

Any good recruiting process has a strategic direction for the employee that is being hired, including the why and what of the position. With contingent work, the need for that direction is at an all-time high. Depending on the open position, there is a chance the employee will be temporary or project-based. If there is a chance for hire depending on performance, then decide what metrics will qualify the individual as a possible permanent placement.

These details need to be discussed and decided prior to even opening the job up to applicants, because complete transparency will save time in interviewing and future headaches. The fewer the surprises, the happier the contingent worker.

Develop a contingent worker communication plan

An appeal of contingent work is the employee’s ability to call a few shots within their own employment. For example, freelance workers are often looking for a remote work arrangement with deliverable based scheduling. That means the hours of work and meetings will have to be planned in advance. A large part of managing contingent workers lies within a strong communication plan created with both your company and the worker in mind.

Be sure to give your company’s culture a lot of consideration when creating hours of work, meeting times, deliverable due dates and rules of responsivity. If there are any miscommunications on this plan with your existing team, engagement could suffer across the board.

Onboard your contingent worker

The contingent worker is an interesting employee. He or she might be a freelancer a state away, or an independent contractor who comes into the office for a 9-5 shift. An onboarding program is still necessary no matter how you decide to structure this employee’s position. As with any employee, the new hire will need to learn the company’s internal processes, and a period of adjustment and direction will help with acclimation.

Integrate contingent workers into your culture by discussing office/little-known rules and introducing the existing team. Simply offering company-branded materials can boost morale and strengthen a temp worker’s connection to your organization. Even those who work miles from your offices are more engaged when they consider your team to be their own.

Create a guideline to contingent management.

All employees want recognition and benefits of employment, and the contingent employee is no different. Some programs can’t be applied to this worker’s statement of work, but there are still opportunities to offer signs of appreciation.

Paid time-off or the ability to accrue time off is a great incentive for contingent workers that also allows for the recharge all employees need. In that line of thought, don’t forget to acknowledge a job well done as you would with your permanent team. Humans respond to positive reinforcement and want to be recognized for hard work.

Establish next steps throughout employment.

Engaging contingent workers can sometimes be as simple as having deliverables planned and ready for them to start. When we see a realistic list of deliverables with desired due dates, we can plan and adjust our week’s to match. Instead of leaving the worker to go with the flow, delineate the concrete needs of your company and deliver the tools and information they will need to complete them. You might even be surprised by the amount of work they can accomplish, or you might learn that your expectations are a little overzealous. Whatever the case, your employee will be able to communicate their hesitations sooner rather than later.

The contingent workforce will be exciting to watch in the coming years. Whether it continues to grow or levels off, there is little doubt how much it has already unveiled to talent acquisition and management. As always, we will continue to observe what makes for the best staffing strategies so the world at work is engaged and productive.

Do you have another best practice your team uses? Share it with us in the comments below or on Twitter @Vector_Talent.

Marc Berman

Marc Berman
Marc Berman is president of Vector Technical Resources, an IT and staff augmentation company servicing the private, federal and state sectors.

Marc Berman

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