Amidst a backdrop of global skill shortages, contingent workers offer businesses scalability, productivity and profitability; but are businesses ready for them? Companies are familiar with building their reputation as an Employer of Choice for salaried staff, however many are not cultivating a ‘Client of Choice’ status to attract top talent from the contingent workforce. Understanding the needs of contingent workers is crucial in attracting and mobilising them effectively, so here are 4 key considerations to improve your business’s appeal to contingent talent.
# Smooth contractor onboarding from day 1
Due to the temporary nature of contractor work arrangements, companies can be too quick to dispense with good onboarding principles. For a contractor to hit the ground running, they must come to grips with how the business operates, understand who they report to, and recognise which other stakeholders have a vested interest in the work they are responsible for.
Aside from the adaptability of the contractor themselves, the onboarding experience is crucial in this transition. Indeed, research has shown that those who experience a positive onboarding process are 69 percent more likely to return to the company in the future[i]. The onboarding experience sets the tone for the engagement and can foster motivation and help contractors connect with the right people faster.
Often, contractors can feel overburdened with the administrative and compliance side of things – make it super easy for contractors to sign, store, and access essential paperwork online. Onboarding ought to be an uplifting experience to reflect the purpose-driven nature of contractors. It’s also a great opportunity for companies to provide a consistent experience across the entire organisation that reflects positively on their brand.
# Keep the lines of communication open
A well-thought out communication strategy can dramatically affect the relationship between an organisation and contractor. This includes performance and fulfilment of expectations during the engagement, plus the potential for re-engagement at a later date. When you engage with independent professionals, they do not exist in a vacuum. In fact, reports reveal that “90% [of contingent workers] want to be treated like team members.”[ii] A feedback loop is crucial as is giving sincere praise and acknowledgement for a job well done.
Implementing a contingent workforce management solution is important to ensure processes are coordinated and not fragmented. Talent will be able to tell the difference, and it may prove too taxing to maintain internally. Enter Contractor Management Outsourcing as a reliable way to achieve a centralised view of contractor worker mobility and better manage the contractor lifecycle. When considering an outsourcing solution partner, vendor-neutrality is key. It ensures they will operate in a manner that always preserves the contractor-organisation relationship, instead of letting ulterior motives affect the longevity of an engagement – i.e. poached talent.
Furthermore, it’s often the case that after the conclusion of a contract, a company goes silent, instead of proactively keeping talent warm for later deployment. As industry leaders have commented: “What the better employers are doing is trying to create a stickiness – they still want [contingent workers] to stay connected to their organisation, so that after moving on to another gig, they will keep coming back.”[iii]
# Know market rates & provide seamless payment
Although pay rate is not the overriding factor in why independent contractors choose their engagements, under-offering and/or a lack of awareness of the ‘going rate’, will deter top talent. In a 2019 study, paying well was listed as ‘very important’ by 55 percent of independent professionals and as ‘important’ by 37 percent. Being paid quickly also scored highly, with 52 percent saying it’s ‘very important’ and 38 percent saying classifying it as ‘important’[iv].
Contractors are not immune to the sense of security required by other worker types, and need a defined structure for payment they can rely on. Payment delays simply won’t fly with today’s contractors who are often spoilt for choice when it comes to job offers. Remember that the independent professional community is built on networking, and in the case of a poor payment experience, word will travel fast. It’s not worth tarnishing your brand or losing talent to your competitors.
Managing timely, accurate contractor payments can be a complex affair; especially if you are engaging a revolving fleet of contractors. For many companies – regardless of size – managing payroll in-house is not cost-effective. Can your organisation confidently say that you have a fully compliant system for engaging contractor classification type, your provision of professional insurances is sufficient, and that you have the capacity to adapt to legislation changes as governments seek to further regulate the industry? Cue the outsourced payroll solutions offered by Contractor Management Organisations to ensure seamless payment solutions that cushion businesses from risk.
# Add contractor value
What are you doing to impress new contingent hires? There is a misconception that contingent workers don’t require any company-based incentives. Although traditional employee-based entitlements and perks won’t apply, you can still add value to the contractor experience. This may include access to discounted services to support contractors’ financial development goals such as taxation services and novated leasing. For longer-term engagements, consider offering a mentor at a senior level to help support their professional development.
Will such offerings be the deciding factor in choosing to engage with your company? Perhaps not, but initiatives such as these do help endear your company and boost your Client of Choice status. MBO Partners found that contingent workers often seek out work assignments that help them grow professionally, with 82 percent saying this is either a ‘very important’ (51 percent) or ‘important’ (31 percent) factor in client choice.[v] Most contractors will work hard to keep a good relationship with organisations that are willing to invest in them.
Delivering on the above benchmarks is crucial in keeping independent professionals satisfied and re-engaging with your organisation instead of your competitors. If you have doubts about whether your contractor management strategy is up to scratch, contact us for a no-obligation chat to see how we can help.