In today’s world of work, the candidate experience is key. The impact of a poor onboarding process affects costs, increases risk and reduces retention. According to SIA, the impact to the contingent worker is no less significant.

SIA’s research report, “North America Temporary Worker Survey 2021: Remote work experience and advice on how to make it better,” found that temporary workers want hiring companies to be better organized regarding issues specific to remote work, such as remote work policies, training and technical support.

The survey asked temporary workers, “If you worked any temp staffing assignments remotely/at home, what advice would you offer to the hiring company for which you worked on what they could have done differently to make your experience better?”

Responses included:

  • “Provide a check list of the onboarding process, training and expectations. A lot of software and resources were available; however, it seemed a little cumbersome to navigate them all without a single ‘voice of truth’ on programs, training and expectations, etc.”
  • “Have all accesses and training set up prior to start date.”
  • “Improve training for consultants on the workings of the company and the responsibilities of their roles.”
  • “I was just thrown into tasks without an understanding of what the company does, how they make money, etc. An informational meeting right away would have been helpful.”
  • “I never had an onboarding or welcome meeting. I was left to figure things out. It took me a day to track down an IT contact to help me set up my PC. There was no support for me to start working and I was given very little work to do.”

So where do companies — both staffing firms and buyers — start?

 Pre-boarding: Build a relationship

Gibson Smith, chief people officer at professional services firm Avionos, cites the importance of learning about workers — including staff aug and other contingents — early in the process. And at the same time, teach them about the organization, its values and its vision. Smith founded Chicago-based Avionos in 2014; The company focuses on consulting around digital strategy, marketing experience management and e-commerce.

The efforts made beforehand result in a “warm welcome instead of walking in cold” on the first day, according to Smith. “I think the key for us has always been really establishing relationships in a pre-boarding manor,” he says. Avionos and his suppliers make sure both full-time hires and contingents are introduced to their managers early, and information is gathered to build a relationship. New additions are also educated on the company, which helps everyone quickly get off on the right foot and set attainable expectations. Smith advocates for “rolling onboarding” where managers can learn more about their teams over a period of time.

Untapped Opportunity

Harvard Business Review reported that organizations with strong onboarding practices improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%. However, only 12% of employees feel that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. This leaves plenty of opportunity ahead for CW managers.

A good onboarding process is vital in order to help buyers retain all workers including contingents. But when it comes to onboarding contingents, collaboration is key. While many buyers put the responsibility solely on the shoulders of the staffing supplier, indeed the buyer organization itself has much to lose if the process goes badly. And for that reason, it needs to be more than an afterthought.

Good or bad, the onboarding process sets the tone for the entire worker experience. A good experience leads to a strong employer brand and a reputation as an organization that all types of workers want to be a part of; on the flip side, a bad experience — regardless whose fault it is — will tarnish your company’s image among top talent, contingent or otherwise, and could also hamper the productivity of the worker. Hence, it is in the buyer’s best interest to be invested participants in the process.

This can be more difficult is the current remote-work environment, but it is no less important. Getting it right can be crucial in building the right brand that attracts workers and winning the war for talent.

As Will Rogers so famously said, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” This is especially true in the world of work — whether you are a contingent worker meeting the company CEO for the first time, or the company itself hoping to get top talent off to a great start.