Many companies put a great focus on employee engagement; even our own Best Staffing Firms to Work For list is based on the premise that engaged employees are good for the bottom line. But when it comes to the contingent portion of your workforce, how important is it? From my perspective, I’d say how important it is depends on several factors.

For example, if you are focusing on your brand as an employer, your contractors’ engagement — or lack thereof — could impact your overall employer brand. Despite this, many are hesitant to focus on the engagement of the contractor for fear of crossing the co-employment line. In actuality, regardless of the line you draw to protect your company from co-employment issues, you are indeed co-employers, and that is not always a bad thing.

Put yourself in the shoes of your contractors. Are you singling them out or excluding them to make certain they don’t feel a part of your organization or company? Sometimes these efforts backfire, what do you want them to say in their peer groups about working for your company? Many contractors today choose contract work not as a means to secure a traditional role, but because it is interesting, challenging and can help them build their profile. They care about how the work they are doing today will position them for the work they will do next. Considering this, what are you doing to make your company a place they are happy to do their best work in? Are you helping them build their profile? Are you stipulating in your MSP and staffing contracts any terms that support the bigger picture — or are your terms stifling it?

Today, many companies offer software and programs to measure and enhance your employee engagement. The idea is that the health and welfare of your workers affect your employer brand. A contractor or employee who feels as though their work is appreciated and makes an impact on the business may share positive statements about your company and employer brand to their core social group (people in their network with similar skill sets). On the same note, bad experiences are more likely to be shared with even broader audiences and often via social media affecting your brand. What do you do about it?

First, I suggest surveying your workers (both internal and contract) on your onboarding process, because first impressions are often established during this time and set the tone for the overall project/assignment experience. Then, ask how they feel about the work they are doing and its ability to help them reach their goals. Ultimately, use this process to get to a Net Promoter Score that measures how they feel about working for your company and if they would recommend your company to their peers.

I would suggest staffing suppliers do this as well. If worker engagement is important to you and your company brand, then require that your suppliers give it relevance as well and measure their Net Promoter Score with their contractors.