How often do you get a call from a stakeholder telling you they need an ID badge and network access by tomorrow morning for a new contingent worker you had no idea was starting? Find it frustrating? Even though you have established comprehensive processes or business rules on how to engage a contingent worker, do you feel you are constantly having to remind people of those processes and rules?

Having policies or business rules to support your CW management program is critical for the success of the program; they also help minimize key risks to your organization. Making sure they are easy to understand, clearly defined and easy to locate is equally critical to the program’s success.

After you’ve assisted the stakeholder with this emergency, CW resource onboarding transaction, your first step should be to ask why they did not follow the company’s established policies. This may be difficult to do when you’re still frustrated, but this is a great opportunity to understand whether the program policies and business rules did not work, or worse, were not known or understood. Such feedback may be tough to hear, but it can help improve the awareness and acceptance of your CW program business policies and rules.

Program business policies need to be easy to understand and not written in the foreign language of boring legalese or CW-industry speak. You need to remember not everyone understands the world of contingent labor like you do. For example, provide definitions and descriptions of the different labor categories or types of engagement. Use examples that will resonate or make it easy for the user to identify which one applies to them. Make sure they are easy to understand and not ambiguous or open to interpretation. If you can, avoid using words such as “should or could” and instead use “must or required.” Finally, unless a CW program is mandated at a senior-executive level for all to see, then business policies and rules need to sell themselves in terms of the value they offer to CW engagement managers and straightforward “how to” support.

Exceptions allowed. Although it sounds like the perfect policy, the no-exception policy is not realistic. There is always going to be something that will require an exception to be considered or made. Instead of not having a policy handling each case as a “one off,” it is best to be proactive and have a process for an exception. Remember, an exception is not something that is necessarily bad, but it is not something that you want to become the “norm.” You might consider requiring senior-executive approval for exceptions. Requiring the engagement managers to go to a level that high in the organization can sometimes make them reconsider the importance of their non-compliant requirements. Do they really want their first time speaking with someone at this level be because they want permission to break an established business policy?

Accessibility. CW program policies or business rules should be easily accessible. Don’t make engagement managers have to search to find out what they need to do. The more difficult they are to find, the less likely stakeholders will make the effort to locate them. So post them on your program office website, your company’s intranet, or even consider including a link to them in your email signature.

Communicate. Rinse. Repeat. Tell them, tell them again, and keep telling them. The majority of engagement managers may only bring on a contingent worker once a year, so expecting them to remember program policies is pretty unrealistic. Make efforts to constantly remind your stakeholders about your program and the rules of engagement. This is basic CW program marketing 101 and your business policies and rules can be key content to that messaging! Speak at team meetings, have lunch and learns or even just a desk drop with a piece of candy can get the word out. Some programs are now even including the policies and business rules in the new hire orientation. Although it is very unlikely that a new hire is thinking about bringing on a contingent worker, just having the opportunity to mention it and provide them some material gets them started on the right path of CW program compliance. Referencing the program at this time is a great way for them to know that a CW resource program, policies and business rules exists and who they need to contact when the time comes.

It is a rare instance that a CW program stakeholder would intentionally break the rules for engaging a contingent worker, but it’s not rare that they may not even know there are rules. It is up to you and your program to get the word out (marketing communication) to avoid those surprise requests when they have a new, unknown, contingent worker starting first thing tomorrow morning.