In my last article, I discussed how the nature of contingent engagements affects those workers’ mental well-being negatively. When employee wellness can have a direct impact on the business — and a large percentage of an organizations’ workforce is contingent — addressing this issue has become a business imperative.
Over the past several years, I have managed many contingent programs that sought to avoid burnout and be inclusive of their contingent workforce but feared co-employment risk. Let’s look at some strategies that companies may use to enhance the experience of contingent workers, avoid burnout and boost engagement across the talent journey.
Onboarding. The journey for your contingent worker begins during the onboarding process. This is an opportunity for a company to shine and demonstrate trust, their corporate culture and values to “wow” the contingent worker with a great overall experience.
Onboarding can become quite an arduous process for a worker, and if it’s not seamless and smooth, you could potentially lose a good candidate before they even begin an assignment. Companies should invest time and effort in a seamless onboarding process because it increases productivity and retention and fosters brand supporters who stick with a company long after a project is finished. It also gets them started sooner, which is a win-win for both the company and the worker.
For example, contingents are typically eager to begin their assignments and start bringing in income for their families. However, logistics such as waiting for a laptop and gaining system access can delay a worker’s start date. This can create undue stress and anxiety for workers who want to get started in their roles.
Communication. Being excluded from all company news and communications after beginning an assignment can negatively impact a worker’s mental well-being by making them feel left in the dark. Companies need to have effective communication channels with their contingent workforce in order to develop brand knowledge and cultural familiarity.
Involving your contingent workforce in important communications helps foster a sense of belonging and ensures the workers feel valued. Your contingent workforce should constantly feel part of the conversation. Companies can create more meaningful talent experiences for everyone by recognizing every worker as a person first rather than defining them by their employment status.
This might be as basic as inviting them to regular team meetings and town halls or making sure they are informed of companywide updates and events. The company’s principles and ethos should be reflected in this, even though it may differ from their channels of communication with their full-time staff and may involve assistance from a managed service provider or staffing firm. A pleasant discourse can encourage positive feedback, make contingent workers feel valued and promote teamwork.
Upskilling and training. Gartner’s research on post-pandemic trends found that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure. Meanwhile, contingent roles are often a stepping stone to permanent opportunities within a business. Landing a permanent position is typically the ultimate goal for a contingent worker as it provides peace of mind, less stress and financial stability. Giving contingent workers access to opportunities for self-improvement and training can help your organization generate talent who are highly motivated and likely to stay or be converted to perm.
Cultural integration. While people are focused more than ever on working for companies that share their values and way of life, the market for contingent labor remains extremely competitive. Companies risk losing access to the most talented individuals in the market by conducting business in a way that makes contingent workers feel like outsiders. This is exacerbated as workers have fewer restrictions on where they can work and greater flexibility in how and with whom they want to work.
It’s crucial to incorporate culture throughout each step of the engagement and talent management processes. Integrating contingent workers into company culture can result in pleasant experiences during interviews and onboarding as well as the development of inclusive practices. Negative experiences during the process can propagate quickly and may limit future access to talent. Positive experiences within your contingent community can create an active community of brand ambassadors.
Mental health and well-being are everyone’s responsibility, and companies need to make it clear to their entire workforce that they value their mental well-being. Investing in your team will yield a better company culture of engaged and productive workers for the future. Not only is this the moral thing to do, it also guarantees greater outcomes in the long run since those who take care of their mental health and well-being demonstrate more vitality, clarity and resilience at work and produce better results.
Staffing firms also have an important role to play in contingent workers’ well-being. I shared some ideas with them in a recent Staffing Stream blog post.