There is a lot of pressure placed on finding good talent, but once you have found them, the bigger challenge becomes keeping them. Quality contingent workers have multiple staffing firms vying for their attention, not to mention multitudes of job opportunities coming their way. So, what can you do to keep them focused on your job?
A good place to start is putting yourself in the shoes of a contingent worker on assignment through your firm. Besides the most obvious factors — the nature of your work and the rate of pay — imagine what the process of beginning your assignment is like. What would reassure you that you’re in good hands with your firm — and more importantly, what pain points would be frustrating enough to make you consider looking for work elsewhere? Here are several things to consider as you observe your firm through the eyes of the talent.
Brand. It starts with your brand. People want to work for companies that make a difference. There is an inherent need for humans to feel like their job is meaningful and that they are doing something that matters.
Take full advantage of your firm’s social media accounts to brag about your culture, your mission statement, your employee resource group options and the impact you’re making, and highlight your inclusive organization wherever possible. Don’t limit your firm’s online presence to just LinkedIn — platforms like Instagram count all generations from Gen Z to baby boomers among their user base, and they are watching you!
But you also need to make sure it’s not all talk. Once the worker is on board, they will want to see what’s hyped on social media in action. Are those ERGs open to contingents? Is your culture the same as you promised? If you don’t follow through in this area, you will lose your talent’s trust, so be sure to make good on your word when it comes to company culture and values.
Onboarding. A poor onboarding experience can be a major turnoff for talent. It was for me. When I tried my hand at contingent work, on my first day, I filled out paperwork, met my boss and took myself to lunch. On my second day, I was trained on I-9 validation and given a pile of work to review. On my third day, I sat alone in the office for so long, the automatic lights went out. I never met the team, never got a tour of the building and muddled my way through the only task I was given, feeling alone and forgotten. It only took those three days to tell me that was not a place I wanted to be.
Take a deep look at what happens at your company after the HR paperwork is done. If your contingent worker is onsite, make sure they get a tour of your facility. Whether remote or onsite, they should be introduced to their team, and someone should be assigned to check on them frequently. Is there a plan in place to train them, take them to lunch, have them work one-on-one with other team members, include them in department or company meetings and make them feel valued? All of these steps can go a long way to ensuring contingent workers’ engagement and retention.
Training. Speaking of training, make this an ongoing activity for your contingent workers, not just something that happens in the first week alone. People want to learn and grow and feel valued, and the easiest way to do this is through training. This may include a formal program, an upskilling opportunity or even classes on LinkedIn — the important thing is that if you teach them more, people can do more. If someone is constantly evolving in their skill set and seeing opportunities within your organization to gain knowledge, they will be hard-pressed to consider leaving.
Inclusivity. In the 1990s, client organizations developed such a fear of co-employment that they went to extreme measures to ensure contingent workers were kept “separate” from the employees. But as an attorney once told us, co-employment starts the minute someone walks in the door. This has resonated with me for 30 years.
While offering benefits or keeping someone as a contractor indefinitely might indeed have compliance or other business implications, it seems like a no-brainer to make someone feel like they matter and that you and your team are happy they are there to help. Legal advisors now say it’s even OK for contingent workers to participate in ERG events, company lunches, team meetings and after-hours social activities. If you want your contingent workers to stay at your company, include them.
Management participation. Sometimes managers are overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done and try to find the fewest contractors to do it all. It’s a cost savings approach, but it’s also a time management issue. Bringing new workers into a group, getting them trained on the job and including them as I mentioned above takes time. And who has time for all of that when the workload continues to mount?
Encourage your managers that taking the time to hire the right person is only a part of the puzzle. Taking the time to keep the person is critical. Otherwise, it becomes a revolving door of contingent workers who don’t feel appreciated — and re-training is more of a stress on time than doing it right the first time.
Attracting talent to your organization is just the beginning. Contingent workforce programs need put forth the effort to ensure the workers’ continued engagement in order to ensure retention. From a thorough onboarding process to access to ongoing training activities to ensuring an inclusive environment, there are many tools available to organizations to keep their contingent workers happy.